Meal Delivery Companies and Meal Kits

I recently started a new job and am remembering how to juggle everything again. One thing that has helped me through is meal kits. There are so many now days to choose from, how do you decide?

There are a bunch of meal services out there. We previously used Hello Fresh, which definitely made life easier, but eventually stopped after we started gaining weight because of the high caloric and carb content of the meals. This was several years ago and I know that Hello Fresh has added lower calorie meals to their menu since then. Another downside is many of the recipes took multiple pots and pans to complete so the cleanup took as long as the cooking! A good thing is that you could choose which meals you wanted each week and pause the service if you were traveling or didn’t need it. There are many services like this, many which offer vegetarian and other specialized types of meals.

There are also meal kits where the food is completely cooked. We used FitLife foods until my Husband grew tired of microwaving dinner every night. They had a wide variety of foods (and three different sizes) but it was still something you had to heat up. FitLife also offers free diet and health coaching, which was a nice added plus. One I have wanted to try is Trifecta, which makes meal plans with carefully balanced macronutrients and is used by many athletes. These precooked meals are still much better than something from the frozen foods section.

Even the grocery stores have gotten into the game during the pandemic. This week we purchased three meals kits from Fresh Market: Chicken Marsala, Szechuan Shrimp and Thai Coconut Chicken. All three were very flavorful, took 15-20 minutes to prepare, only needed one pan and had a good balance of protein, veggies and carbs although I did add more broccoli to the mix each night. The X factor with these recipes are the sauces, which don’t have a measurable macronutrient, carb or calorie count to them. I didn’t worry about it too much since it’s a small amount.

Chicken Marsala with Mashed Potatoes and Veggies

Many of these plans offer free delivery as well as discounts for your first order. There are so many others out there that I didn’t mention, so let me know if there’s a meal delivery company or meal kit that you loved (or hated!) Hopefully, you can save some time in your meal prep without blowing your nutrition plan!

Recipe: Pineapple Chicken Skewers

A great summer grilling recipe that comes in just over 200 calories per serving and has tons of flavor!

Cut 1lb of raw chicken breast into 1 inch pieces. Put it in a reusable bag or container with 1/4 reduced sodium soy sauce, 2 tsp. of sesame oil and 2 tsp. of grated fresh ginger and shake to coat. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. I don’t always have ginger on hand so it’s not essential to the recipe. I also usually end up making more than 1 pound of chicken, which is completely fine. Just adjust the amount of sauces (i.e.) 2 pounds of chicken should have 1/2 cup soy sauce and 4 tsp. of sesame oil. Don’t forget to cut a few more vegetables as well.

Cut up 1-2 bell peppers and 1/2 a red onion into kabob size pieces. Take those pieces, your chicken and a can of pineapple chunks and alternate them on to a bamboo skewer until there are two of each of the ingredients on each skewer. (I actually fit three of each ingredient but when you are factoring portion size, calculate 2 skewers with 2 ingredients each for the portion size.) Throw those on the grill and you are good to go.

Each serving is 214 calories, 5 grams of fat, 12 carbs and 26 grams of protein. For Ultimate Portion Fix, the container counts are 1/2 green, 1/2 purple, 1 red and 1/2 spoon. You can add some brown rice for 1 yellow if desired.

Happy Grilling!

Meal Planning – Vacation Style

On Sundays (and sometimes Mondays), I meal plan for the week. This week, my husband and I are on vacation so I will be planning on lunches for him as well but I plan on incorporating leftovers and treats. Stay tuned for some new recipes I’m trying out, including peanut butter cups!

I know a lot of people are intimidated by meal planning but I promise, you don’t need to be. You already do a little bit of meal planning when you buy your groceries, whether or not you mapped it out in advance. It only takes a few minutes to plan out the week. You can get started by planning out the first few days and then expanding to the week from there. You don’t have to cook it all at once and I often switch things around during the week if we have a lot of leftovers or feel like getting takeout one night.

I start my meal plan by writing down different ideas I have for things I want to cook that week. Then, I fit them into a day that makes sense at the time. I also know which meals will give us a lot of leftovers and will skip a night of cooking. I also cook things that work for everyone’s tastes at that time. So where I may eat something over a salad, my Husband may eat that same thing with a wrap or bun.

Since this is a vacation week, I want to make sure we’ve got plenty of food for lunches and snack as well. Since I have extra time because of vacation, I’m going to be cooking every night and saving the leftovers for lunches. It’s also my Husband’s birthday on Friday so we are planning a fantastic night of takeout along with cake and celebration!

Of course, this vacation week is different than years past since we will be at home all week. Normally this week of the summer is spent at the beach but I still meal plan when we are away. We know when we are going to splurge at the breakfast buffet, when we are going to eat away from the hotel (and where) and when we are going to grab a quick something from the beach cafe. Traveling to somewhere you haven’t been before can be a little trickier but you can always have a flexible plan and check out the menu before you dine.

Happy meal planning and have an awesome week!

Eating Out and Not Going All Out!

Eating out (or in the pandemic, ordering in) is always a treat. You don’t have to cook and you can pick something you can’t cook! How can you accomplish this while still eating healthy? If you’ve ever been to some place like the Cheesecake Factory with it’s over-sized portions, you know sometimes it’s hard not to over-eat. Plus, you’ve got sides and bread and sauces and desserts, oh my!

Now overindulging everyone once and a while never killed anyone’s overall nutrition, even if it might have given you a stomach ache. A lot of people probably eat out most weekdays for lunch and you don’t see people measuring out portions at a restaurant. I know I used to take clients out for lunch or drinks multiple times a week. So how do I choose what to eat?

First, if I know where I am going to eat, I always check out the menu in advance. Most restaurants will also have their nutritional information online as well. You would be surprised how many times you will look and the salad is NOT the best option. If you look at the menu beforehand, you can meal plan while eating out! I also ask for dressing and sauces to be on the side and I usually ask for them to go easy on the cheese!

Another trick is to order a side salad, with dressing on the side, to eat prior to your entree coming out. I love Seasons 52 because you can get a delicious salad with a smaller flatbread as a “pick-two” type of meal, you are eating veggies along with the indulgent pick. I also skip soda or tea and just stick with water, normally with a lime.

Many restaurants also have lighter menu options, even the Cheesecake Factory! You can also substitute out some items that are processed or high in calories for other, healthier options. Our favorite burger place has turkey or vegetarian option that you can put over a salad. You can substitute a lettuce wrap for a bun or if you can’t live without a bun, take off the top and eat the bottom only.

I’ve even been known to order from the kids menu, which isn’t always easy to do when you eat in but getting takeout (or ordering room service) makes it easy. The portions are much smaller and manageable and most times mirror something on the main menu. They are also much less expensive, especially from room service!

A great example is our Friday night taco order. While my husband ordered 3 tacos just as the described, I ordered mine on a salad. The shells alone are over 300 calories and almost 60 carbs! Did I miss the shells? Absolutely not. I did take off a little of the cheese because there was A LOT of cheese but it was amazingly delicious and I was nicely full, not overstuffed.

What are some of your tricks when you eat out?