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Go Further With Food with Meal Planning!

March 11, 2018
Cooking is fun! Eating is enjoyable! Meal planning is hard! I, a registered dietitian nutritionist, have struggled with meal planning. I would get this great meal idea in my head, buy the ingredients, and then change my mind or forget what it was I was going to cook. However, after years of trial and error, dedication, and practice, I'm now starting to get the hang of it. Below are some tips I want you to know regarding meal planning that will help make the whole process a little bit easier.

1. There isn’t a perfect meal planning system. I know this may shock you, but it’s true. There are so many different ways to plan meals and no one way is superior over the other. It comes down to practice, patience, and personal preference. My advice:
• Whether it be digital, a home delivery service, or old-fashioned paper and pen, pick one system and try it out for at least a month before quitting.
• Proper meal planning takes time. It’s about developing new habits that will last
• Give the system time to work; you can always tweak it later.


2. It’s not just about what you want to eat, it’s about what ingredients you have available. Food is expensive and I don’t want to see anyone waste it. Meal planning is about making use of what food you already have at your disposal and not always relying on recipes that require you to buy more food. It’s about knowing what to do with the leftover chicken from last night’s dinner. Remembering that you have frozen broccoli and asparagus in the freezer. Thawing a package of ground beef so you are prepared to cook a meal in the coming days. The great challenge of meal planning comes from being able to utilize your resources.

3. Meal preparation doesn’t have to start at night. Nights are busy. There is homework to get done, school events and basketball games to attend, and TV shows to watch. You don’t have time to wait until the last minute to start meal prep. Think about what you can accomplish on weekends or in the morning to reduce the time spent preparing meals. Maybe it’s grilling some chicken breast for lunches during the week, washing a head of lettuce for salads, or setting out all the spices and herbs you need to make that new recipe. Don’t underestimate what you can accomplish during 5-10 minutes of meal prep. Your goal should be whenever you start making dinner, you’re already halfway done.

4. Mondays are for easy meals. If you’re like me, then you hate Mondays. On Mondays stick to basic meals you’ve made a million times. If you dare try a new recipe on Monday make sure it has 5 or less simple ingredients. This is not the time to try that new multi-step, multi-ingredient recipe. Give yourself every chance to succeed and this means taking it easy at the beginning of the week.

5. Establish meal themes/templates. When following a theme or meal template most of the work is done for you. Assign a food theme to each/or few days of the week to help narrow down ideas. Common themes used are taco night, pizza night, rice night, Asian night, egg night, etc. You can also get more creative by doing crockpot night, soup night, meatless night, etc. There are so many themes/templates to choose from that you shouldn’t be bored with your meals.
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Meez Meals...Reclaim Your Dinnertime!

July 26, 2017
Meez Meals is a Chicago based company that sells DIY meal delivery kits that are delivered directly to your door with all ingredients chopped, prepped, and measured to make healthy cooking easy and fun! A representative from Meez Meals reached out to me last week and asked if I would sample some of the products and provide my feedback. As a dietitian, I certainly love food and love to cook, so I was very excited and pumped for this opportunity, and surprisingly…I have never tried a DIY meal delivery kit before. Sure, I see and hear commercials constantly for companies such as Blue Apron, HelloFresh, GreenChef etc. and many of my clients have used or currently use a home delivery meal service and I think it’s wonderful and innovative. I personally have never pulled the trigger for myself, not because I think they’re bad or unnecessary in our time demanding, unhealthy society, but because I’ve always enjoyed my time in the kitchen as cooking is therapeutic for me. Well thanks to this positive and enjoyable experience from Meez Meals, this dietitian may soon jump on the DIY meal delivery bandwagon with much delightment, ease, and creativity as it provides me with another beneficial tool in maintaining my unwavering lifelong commitment of good nutrition and overall health.

Meez Meals provides you the opportunity to select meals that are customizable to you and your dietary needs/preferences. Whether you’re gluten free, vegan, or have allergies to tree nuts, etc. Meez Meals has got you covered. I selected the All American BBQ Chicken Burrito, Farmers Market Salad, and the Ultimate Oreo Cheesecake. A recipe card accompanied each item as well as simple cooking instructions that turned my meal into a delicious and satisfying experience. Also included on the recipe card are the nutrition facts (including Weight Watchers Smart Points) and a dinner hotline number to call for questions/concerns. Below I discuss each item in greater detail.

All American BBQ Chicken Burrito:

This item took me approximately 30 minutes to cook and included 5 items: cabbage and carrot slaw, cage-free chicken breast, flour tortillas, coleslaw dressing, and BBQ sauce. I ordered enough for 2 servings and it was plenty for 2 people, especially if you eat additional side items such as a salad or dessert. I really enjoyed this item and found it provided a different and refreshing taste to my normal dietary cuisine. I would certainly order it again.

Farmers Market Salad:

This was my absolute FAVORITE item that I ordered. I love salads and can generally be quite picky in the types of salads I eat, but this salad certainly delivered and surpassed my expectations. The ingredients included: Arcadian lettuce blend, Persian cucumbers, sugar snap peas, green beans, red and yellow peppers, and Green Goddess dressing. It tasted so fresh and contained huge amounts of vitamins, minerals, and an abundance of antioxidants and phytochemicals. I also fell in love with the Green Goddess dressing and will find a way to make my own version in the very near future. The only negative I will say about this item (and it’s not really a negative) is that I would have preferred the peppers to be chopped or sliced smaller than what was presented. The slices were a little large for my personal taste, however I understand that many people enjoy eating large slices of red and yellow peppers so “to each his own” I guess!

Ultimate Oreo Cheesecake:

Cheesecake… you are the great love of my life! I adore sweets and cake is my absolute favorite food, but I have embraced the low carb lifestyle for several years so I really only ordered this item for my family to enjoy. I am not a dietitian that encourages sweets or baked goods very often in the diet as I find many people struggle with moderating sugar, however I am not opposed to the occasional treat now and then. This item included 3 ingredients: Eli’s Original Cheesecake, Oreo cookie crumbles, and caramel sauce. The only prep involved was drizzling caramel sauce over the cheesecake and topping it with Oreo cookies. I only had one bite of the cheesecake and I can tell you that it tasted amazing. My dad’s birthday is today and he reported that he very much enjoyed his piece of Ultimate Oreo Cheesecake for breakfast this morning.

My first experience into the world of DIY meal delivery kits was exciting, intriguing, and highly enjoyable. Meez Meals provides a variety of meal options that can accommodate any number of dietary needs/preferences. Another advantage of Meez Meals is there is NO COMMITMENT OR SUBSCRIPTION to try it out and experience the process. If you try it once and for some reason don’t like it, you can rest assured knowing that you only paid for that one experience. I don’t know about you, but that is a huge advantage in my opinion.

We live in a fast paced, stressful, and often unhealthy society. Clients are always asking me “ How can I plan my meals during the work week?” While meal planning is still going to be required with this approach (you still need to take time to log onto the website and select your menu), it can really provide an easier avenue and solution to meal planning while keeping your diet healthy, nutritious, and most importantly…delicious! While you may or may not feel you need this service every week, I encourage you to keep Meez Meals in mind when you have a super busy week filled with homework, kids activities, work deadlines, and other life demands that can negatively impact your eating habits. Because after all, an organic, cage-free All American BBQ Chicken Burrito, and a super nutritious, organic Farmers Market Salad will certainly be preferable… and sometimes necessary… than another stop at your local area drive-thru.

For more information on Meez Meals, you can access their website at www.meezmeals.com. You can also see my pictures of the experience on Instagram at username: speakingofnutrition. Feel free to share any of your experiences with the DIY meal delivery kits in the comments section below.
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