Simplify: Thanksgiving

standard November 20, 2017 Leave a response

For many of us, Thanksgiving is a big production of food, football, family gathering, laughter, fights, and lots of pie. It can be an easygoing, laid back affair or it can be a stressful nonstop event. My memories of Thanksgiving growing up involved family vacation, since my family didn’t see the point of cooking a huge meal for just four people. I look back on those trips and see all the fun, all the experiences, and none of the stress (though I know some was probably involved for my parents in taking a vacation anywhere with kids).

Once I grew up and was making my own decisions about where to go for Thanksgiving, would we host, would we cook, where would we go, it started to get a lot more stressful. Then I switched to a plant-based diet, and things got even more complicated. I started making big productions myself, full of vegan dishes I was determined everyone would love. Family came, friends came, everyone helped out. It was fun and fairly low key (except for my cooking madness). But over the years, I started feeling like I had to keep topping each year’s menu and activities and things easily got big and stressful. FOR NO REASON. It was all in my head.

This year, I decided to go back to the basics. The menu is getting shrunk. The visitors are increasing. The activities are staying the same. Exactly as I want it to be.

Ready to get your Thanksgiving back and enjoy every minute without going crazy? Try these tips:

Cut the menu in half. Yes. Half. Take a look at each dish you traditionally make and ask yourself, “WHY do I make this?” Is it a food you love, that your family loves, that your one child loves and insists upon? Great. Keep it on the menu. However, if you find you are making something just because you’ve always made it, and no one will miss it, cross if off the list this year. There is no reason to make something people don’t care about that much. It just adds to your cooking list and provides extra time and stress.

Invite the people who matter.  We are all used to having family at holiday gatherings. But also think about those friends and coworkers and neighbors who might not have somewhere else to go and who have a big impact on your daily life. Yes, this is adding people to your day, and we’re trying to simplify here, not make things harder. But people can also bring food. Fill your table with the people that matter most to you. And give them a dish to bring to round out the meal without you having to do all the cooking.

Put guests to work. Have a friend or relative who always shows up early? Let them help! Even guests who aren’t as savvy in the kitchen can pop rolls in the oven or toss a salad together. Have someone stir cranberry sauce, mash potatoes, check on the pie, pour drinks, set the table. Even kids can get in on the prep work. And giving everyone a role to play will make guests feel more at home and included.

Make it fun. Thanksgiving isn’t about spending the day in the kitchen while your guests lounge around watching football. Add some fun activities everyone can participate in to your agenda for the day. Join in the annual Turkey Trot in the morning before coming home and cooking up your feast. Go out and play a round of tag or flag football. Have a family game night tradition after dinner. And make sure the host or hostess also participates! If you’ve cut recipes off your cooking list, asked people to bring food, and put guests to work, you have plenty of time to join in on the fun!

Looking for some menu and recipe inspiration? Check out these past holiday posts:

What are you doing this year to simplify Thanksgiving? 

Healthy Holidays: Maintaining Balance at Mealtime

standard November 17, 2017 2 responses

The holiday season is notorious for gorging on rich foods, over eating and binging, and throwing self-control out the window. But does every year have to come with dread over ruining your diet and sidelining those hard-worked goals from the past 10-11 months? It is indeed possible to have balance during the holidays and still enjoy Grandma’s classic cookie recipe.

On any given day, at any given meal, the thought of balancing the types of foods you are eating, as well as the right amount of food, can be challenging. Add in the approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and it is easy to feel like you’ve lost a battle before you’ve even started. Regardless of the day or the occasion, there are some ways to make sure you listen to your body, honor your hunger cues, and still enjoy all those delicious special holiday dishes.

1. Take Inventory.

Before filling your plate, opt for a walk around the room and make a note of what you’d like to indulge in. This way, you don’t load up before you discover that Aunt Sally brought her famous potato casserole and Mom splurged on that cream pie. You can also decide at the beginning which foods you are going to choose. You do not have to eat everything just because it is there. Go for the ones you love, the ones you enjoy, the ones that look interesting. If it’s not your favorite, don’t add it to your plate just because. Really stop and think about which foods you really WANT to add to your meal.

2. Start Small.

When you first fill your plate, take just enough for a taste or small portion of each food. Then you can go back for seconds (either voluntarily or forced by Grandma) without any guilt of ruining your diet. Your total portion will end up being about what you would have taken in the first place. If you have tried a dish you don’t really like, you won’t feel bad leaving it on your plate because there won’t be enough there to make it a big deal. And if you weren’t sure which foods you wanted to start with, you now know which you’d like to enjoy to round out your meal. Just make sure to give yourself about 20 minutes after eating to let your food settle and begin to digest before indulging in a second plate. You may find you don’t really need it.

3. Enjoy It.

It is the holidays, and they only come around once a year, so go ahead and splurge on your favorite treat. Just make sure to do so in moderation. You do not have to try every dessert on the table. Nor do you have to have a heaping portion or finish your plate if you are given a pre-portioned serving. Enjoy the taste and flavor and set it down when you have had your fill.

 

Master Meal Planning with Get Meal Prepped!

standard November 13, 2017 Leave a response

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by Get Meal Prepped, nor have I been paid to write this post. This post does contain affiliate links. Purchases from these links may result in a small commission used to support Neat & Nutritious. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I thought I had meal planning all figured out. I had a rhythm, a routine, a process for each week. And then I had a baby and all routines went out the window. Getting meals on the table for a family vs just an individual or couple is at least 10 times harder, even when you’re just adding one baby to the mix.

We eat 3-4 times a day. But meal planning shouldn’t take up all of our free time. In my quest for a simplified, less stressful life, there has got to be an easy and simple way to prepare healthy, nutritious meals for our families.

That’s where Get Meal Prepped comes in! I had the chance to interview Susan Watson and Andrea Hardy, registered dietitians from Nutrition Academy, on their latest online course, Get Meal Prepped.

What is the “Get Meal Prepped – Family Style” E-Course?
Get Meal Prepped – Family Style: Is a step-by-step course to teach you exactly what you need to know to need your family healthy meals, with time to spare. This online course teaches you not just the ‘what’, but the HOW of meal prep. Are you ready to meal prep and plan without fails, flops & frustrations? Then Get Meal Prepped is for you!

Created by registered dietitian and co-founder of Nutrition Academy, Susan Watson, Get Meal Prepped is ALL the skills and kitchen-hacks YOU need to know to get nutritious meals on the table for your family, fast.

Is this course for me?
Does this sound like you?
• You’re tired of the ‘food rut’ = spaghetti, hot dogs, pizza, REPEAT
• You hate spending an extra $100/wk eating out or ordering in
• You are running to the grocery store at 5 pm every day to figure out dinner
• You desperately want to enjoy a healthy home cooked meal around the dinner with your family, without the fuss

If you said yes to any of these, then you’ve probably already recognized you NEED a change. Maybe you’ve been waiting for the motivation or right time to get started – or the right plan to fall into your lap. Lucky for you, Get Meal Prepped will give you the skills to solve these meal time dilemmas!

What will Get Meal Prepped teach me?
This course will teach you:
• The ins and outs of meal planning from the start to the finish
• How to streamline your grocery shopping experiences
• How to plan and create balanced meals in record time
• How to create stress free meal times
• Time saving methods to meal prep including big batch cooking, using cooked components, and freezing strategies.
• Dietitian and kid-approved breakfast, lunch and dinners that are quick and easy!

Let’s create confidence and competence in the kitchen with Get Meal Prepped.

If I get one thing out of this course what will it be?
You CAN provide balanced healthy meals for you family with less stress. There isn’t just one way to meal plan, or one way to eat.

This course will teach you a variety of ways to meal plan that will suit your life, your eating habits, and your financial budget. No generic advice – just plenty of tried and true ways that work with even the most challenging families! Sports? We got you covered. A parent working away from home? We can help you with that too. We’ve taught hundreds of people to meal plan – let us help you.

This course incorporates nutrition education in the most practical way possible – through the meals you prepare. You will learn important nutrition concepts, like how to balance your meals so you can stay full and keep your energy levels up ALL day – as well as how to plan snacks that work for you and your family’s life, and are nutritious!

After completing this course, you will be able to:
• Plan balanced nutritious meals for you and your family
• Cook 1-2 times per week, but have meals ready to eat all week long
• Know how to incorporate healthy snacks into your diet to keep you energized for the day, and not overeat at meals
• Know the batch cooking secrets to success that will save you time in the kitchen when preparing meals
• Prevent recipe ruts and never get bored with your meals you prepare again
• Master your time in the kitchen and not be a slave to the stove
• Be super efficient at the grocery store … “get in and get out in record time”
• Make the most out of your time in the kitchen by putting your appliances to work for you

How do I sign up?
The Get Meal prepped Family Style is a membership based course run through the Nutrition Academy. Sign up here.

Additional FAQ

When does the course start and finish?
The course is a completely self-paced online course – you decide when you start and when you finish. After your initial purchase, you will have unlimited access to the course!

How long do participants have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, participants have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like – across any and all devices they own.

What if a participant is unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! Get Meal Prepped™ has a 14-day money back guarantee. If you get into the course and realize that our strategies are not helping you plan your meals, let us know in the first 2 weeks and we will give you a full refund. All that I ask is that you show me that you have completed all the modules and assignments, and demonstrate that you have tried the different methods recommended in the course. This money-back guarantee is in place because my course does get results, but you have to put in the work to succeed. I know if you take the time to implement these strategies you will be saving time & money, eating better, and less stressed out.

You guys, this program is amazing! I’ve had the chance to try it out myself, and it is full of useful tips and information to get you on a simplified meal planning routine, just in time for the holidays and end of the year madness. Get ahead of the holiday stress, and check out Get Meal Prepped today!