4 Fit Mommies: How to Plan a Week’s Worth of Healthy Meals

The two biggest objections I hear to eating healthier are that it’s too expensive and it’s hard to cook interesting meals. The truth is, neither of those things have to be the case.

 It’s not that eating healthy is actually complicated and expensive; it’s that you don’t have a system for making it easier and more affordable. I’ve put a great deal of thought into creating this system for our household, and now I’m going to share it with you.

 

Step 1: Invest in Cookbooks

meal planning, paleo meals, paleo cooking, meal planning and shopping

The first step meal planning is having good sources for your recipes. This means having cookbooks. There are plenty of websites out there with delicious recipes that you can access for free. Personally I like using both, websites and cookbooks.

 

Step 2: Inventory Your Kitchen

When planning your meals you need to know your possible cooking mediums. Look around your kitchen at the tools you have. I have an oven, a stovetop, a microwave, and a crockpot. I have discovered, through trial and error, that I do really well having multiple things on the stovetop. For some reason it keeps me on task.

 

meal planning, paleo meals, paleo cooking, meal planning and shopping

 

Step 3: Sit Down With Your Homework

Every Friday I sit down in the living room with a notepad and a pile of cookbooks. I spent thirty to sixty minutes going through my cookbooks, selecting my recipes, and creating the menu for the week. (See photo below for menu example.) From this menu I then generate my shopping list. Once I finish my homework, I head to the grocery store. All in, it’s at most a two-hour process that saves me time and money throughout the week.

 

Choose Your Meals Wisely

When I create the weekly menu I’m thinking about a number of things:

 

  • Is there enough variety in the protein sources?
  • Do we have green vegetables with every meal?
  • Is there a source of starchy carbohydrates for my husband?
  • Is there a variety in color and type of vegetables over the week?
  • Will there be enough left over for lunch?
  • What vegetables are in season?
  • What is on sale at the grocery store?
  • Can my personal schedule handle this workload of recipes?

 

I often check the website of my grocery store to see what’s on sale in the meat department before I plan my weekly menu. We’ve had some great cuts of meat for dinner we wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t done this, and we saved money. I also try to stock up our freezer when I come across great sales and ease my work in the future.

 

meal planning, paleo meals, paleo cooking, meal planning and shopping

The last question on that list – my personal schedule and workload – goes a long way toward alleviating stress. I work full time and have two toddler boys. I cannot come home from work and cook some elaborate meal. This is why I choose to cook on Sundays during their naps and have leftovers throughout the week that I just have to reheat. There’s no reason to make it harder on yourself if you’re planning things out ahead of time. Alternately, you can always chop all your veggies in advance to make things easier on busier days.

 

The key is to plan ahead and keep it simple. Cooking can feel overwhelming if you’re new to the kitchen, so start small – don’t start with extravagant meals. If I decide to try a new recipe, I make sure all the other recipes that evening are tried-and-true. So, if you’re new to cooking a certain entrée, then just steam some veggies for your side dish.

 

Once I have my menu planned for the week, I create my shopping list:

 

  • First – I go to each recipe and write down all the ingredients I don’t have in my kitchen. I don’t worry about organizing them at first. Just write them all down so you can put your cookbooks away.
  • Second – I get a blank piece of paper and rewrite the ingredients in a more organized fashion. I group them similarly to how the grocery store is organized – meat, vegetables/fruit, canned goods – so that I can quickly move through the store and not go in circles. (See the two versions in the photo below.)

 

Now, all I have to do is follow my own instructions. I go to the store and buy exactly what’s on the list. 

meal planning, paleo meals, paleo cooking, meal planning and shopping

As your comfort in the kitchen grows, your ability as a cook will also evolve. I handle much more complicated meals now than I did a few months ago, and I’ve begun adding desserts to the weekly menu, too. You’ll find as you experiment each week that there are recipes you revisit and they become easier each time you make them. I keep track of these easily by putting stars next to them in my menu notebook. I keep all my meal plans in one notebook for easy reference and for looking back on previous weeks, as to what went well and what did not. I also make notes right in my cookbooks if I change the recipes so that I don’t have to try to remember little details in the future. Remember, the goal is to use planning to make things easier.

 

So, it’s not that healthy cooking is necessarily complicated or expensive. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need is a system for moving forward. Once you create that system, before long you’ll be eating better with less work and for less money.

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4 Fit Mommies: How to Calmn Your Newborn

Ok, you gave birth to a beautiful baby. Your heart is filled with so much love you can’t stand it. You will do anything in your power to keep your little one safe and happy. Your life has changed forever. Life could not possibly be sweeter.

 

And then you go home from the hospital and reality hits you in the ears – you’ve got a brand new baby who doesn’t know how to do anything but scream, poop, scream, eat, scream, sleep, repeat. Your holding, rocking, walking, cuddling, swinging, swaddling, unswaddling, passing to daddy, passing back to mommy. . . .  WHY won’t your baby stop crying and how do you get them to sleep???

4 Fit Mommies
4 Fit Mommies

Here are my tried and true ways of calming a baby. Pediatrician Harvey Karp wrote a book called “The Happiest Baby on the Block”. In this book he references the Five S’s for getting your baby to sleep. These worked on both of my kids.

1. Swaddle: Wrap your crying or fussy baby snugly, arms at her sides, in a thin blanket. The key is to keep the babies arms INSIDE the blanket. Swaddling soothes babies by providing the secure feeling they enjoyed before birth. Swaddling also keeps your babies arms from flailing and prevents startling, which can start the cycle of fussing and crying all over again.

2. Side or Stomach position: To reduce the risk of SIDS, experts recommend putting babies to sleep on their backs. But because newborns feel more secure and content on their side or tummy, those are great positions for soothing (not sleeping). Hold your fussy baby in your arms in a side or tummy-down position.

3. Shush: Newborns don’t need silence. In fact having spent months in utero – where Mom’s blood flow makes a shushing sound louder than a vacuum cleaner – they’re happier, they’re able to calm down, and they sleep better in a noisy environment. Put your lips right next to your baby and “shush” as loudly as he is crying.

4. Swing: A baby swing might be your first thought but that’s not what I am talking about. It refers to jiggling your swaddled baby using very small, rapids movements. In utero your baby is often rocked, jiggled, in motion. That makes #4 Swinging familiar and comfortable. Do this while shushing your swaddled baby in a side or stomach position.

5. Suck: This simply means giving your baby a pacifier or a thumb to suck on. In combination with being held on his side or tummy, being soothed with loud shushing or white noise, and being gently jiggled, sucking may do the trick. Pacifiers also reduce the risk of SIDS so it’s ok to allow your baby to keep the pacifier while asleep.

The Five S’s saved my ears (and my sleep) MANY times when my kids were babies. Try it and see!!

4 Fit Mommies: What the heck is a burpee?

Burpees are on ALOT of exercise plans because they work the whole body and are a great way to increase your heartrate and burn major calories. However, not alot of exercise plans tell you how to do them effectively. The Burpee is a 4-step full body exercise that combines strength (bodyweight) and aerobic exercise.

 

4fitmommies
4fitmommies

Mason Jar Breakfasts

Mason jars take the hassle out of breakfast—make something ahead of time, grab it, and go. And, they’re super cute! We’ve created a simple template for you to follow when putting together your own amazing breakfast creations. Keeping it simple (and a little sweet) is the name of the game here. Start with protein-rich dairy or fiber-filled grains as a base, add fruit, and top with a few nuts. Voila—a healthy and filling breakfast!

Fill your jar from the bottom up, and be sure anything you cook has cooled before assembling.

Protein-Rich Base (150-225 calories per cup)

2% Greek Yogurt

Nutrition (per 7oz): Calories: 150; Total Fat: 4g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 10mg; Sodium: 65mg; Total Carbohydrates: 8g; Dietary Fiber: 0g; Sugars: 8g; Protein: 20g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 155mg; Vitamin A: 2%; Vitamin C: 0%; Calcium: 20%; Iron: 0%

Oatmeal

Nutrition (per cup): Calories: 166; Total Fat: 4g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 9mg; Total Carbohydrates: 32g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugars: 1g; Protein: 6g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 143mg; Vitamin A: 0%; Vitamin C: 0%; Calcium: 2%; Iron: 12%

Quinoa

Nutrition (per cup): Calories: 222; Total Fat: 4g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 13mg; Total Carbohydrates: 39g; Dietary Fiber: 5g; Sugars: 0g; Protein: 8g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 318mg; Vitamin A: 0%; Vitamin C: 0%; Calcium: 3%; Iron: 15%

Fruity Middle (30-100 calories per half cup)

Strawberries

Nutrition (per ½ cup): Calories: 49; Total Fat: 0g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 2mg; Total Carbohydrates: 12g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 7g; Protein: 1g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 220mg; Vitamin A: 0%; Vitamin C: 149%; Calcium: 2%; Iron: 4%

Peaches

Nutrition (per ½ cup): Calories: 46; Total Fat: 0g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Total Carbohydrates: 11g; Dietary Fiber: 2g; Sugars: 10g; Protein: 1g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 224mg; Vitamin A: 0%; Vitamin C: 0%; Calcium: 0%; Iron: 0%

Bananas

Nutrition (per ½ cup): Calories: 105; Total Fat: 0g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 1mg; Total Carbohydrates: 27g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 14g; Protein: 1g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 422mg; Vitamin A: 2%; Vitamin C: 17%; Calcium: 1%; Iron: 2%

Cantaloupe

Nutrition (per ½ cup): Calories: 27; Total Fat: 0g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 13mg; Total Carbohydrates: 7g; Dietary Fiber: 1g; Sugars: 6g; Protein: 1g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 208mg; Vitamin A: 54%; Vitamin C: 49%; Calcium: 1%; Iron: 1%

Nutty Topping (150-170 calories per ounce)

Almonds

Nutrition (per 1oz serving): Calories: 161; Total Fat: 14g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Total Carbohydrates: 6g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 1g; Protein: 6g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 200mg; Vitamin A: 0%; Vitamin C: 0%; Calcium: 7%; Iron: 6%

Cashews

Nutrition (per 1oz serving): Calories: 155; Total Fat: 12g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 3mg; Total Carbohydrates: 9g; Dietary Fiber: 1g; Sugars: 2g; Protein: 5g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 187mg; Vitamin A: 0%; Vitamin C: 0%; Calcium: 1%; Iron: 10%

Pistachios

Nutrition (per 1oz serving): Calories: 159; Total Fat: 13g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 113mg; Total Carbohydrates: 7g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 2g; Protein: 6g Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 291mg; Vitamin A: 1%; Vitamin C: 1%; Calcium: 3%; Iron: 7%

Peanuts

Nutrition (per 1oz serving): Calories: 168; Total Fat: 15g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 90mg; Total Carbohydrates: 4g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 1g; Protein: 8g

Nutrition Bonus: Potassium: 200mg; Vitamin A: 0%; Vitamin C: 0%; Calcium: 2%; Iron: 2%

Healthy Crockpot Pot Roast

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This is one of my favorite recipes, it’s so delicious and tender.

Ingredients:

3lb boneless beef bottom round roast, trimmed of all fat

2onions, sliced

2tbsp Hungarian Paprika

1/2 tsp dried basial

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried thyme

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup water

1 can low fat, low sodium beef broth

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 lbs baby carrots

2 lbs small new potatoes

 

Directions:

1. Lightly coat skillet with cooking spray and place over medium high heat. Add roast and brown on all sides (about 5 minutes). Place in crockpot.

2. Add onion slices to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until golden (about 5 minutes). Add spices and garlic, cook for another 2 minutes. Pour over roast in crockpot.

3. Add water, broth, pepper, carrots and potatoes to crockpot. Cover and cook for 10 hours on low or 5 hours on high.

 

Makes 8 servings

Personalized Workout Plan

Who doesn’t want a personal trainer? Get your very own personalized workout plan from yours truly. All you have to do is share my posts and follow my blog. Every “share” will get you an entry into a drawing for me to develop a workout plan that will shred fat, build muscle and give you the body you always wanted. The drawing will take place in one week, on Sunday August 31st, at NOON. You have one week to get as many “shares” in as possible. Good Luck!!

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10 Exercises to do with your Baby

Finding time to exercise when you didn’t have children was tough enough. Now you have another full time job to add to your list of things to do!! Here are some moves you can do with your baby:

 

1. Side Plank: while lying next to your baby on your left side, prop your upper body up on your left forearm, making sure your elbow stays under your shoulder. Left leg should be on the floor, with your right leg stacked on top of it. Place your weight on your left arm and shoulder and lift your hops off the ground so that you come into a side plank position. If you can hold the position while you extend your right arm over your head. Aim for two sets of 10 repetitions per side.

2. Butt Tightener: Lying on your stomach with your baby in front of you, bend your legs so that they form a 90 degree angle at the knee. Rest your chin on your hands in front of you. Keeping your feet flexed, slowly lift your knees off the floor, squeezing your legs together as you push your feet up toward the ceiling. Hold this position while you sing “Twinkle Twinkle” to your little one. Repeat 3-5 times.

3.Squats: Stand with your baby in a front carrier, feet just past your shoulders, toes turned out slightly. Inhale and lower your body down to sit in an imaginary chair, weight over heels, navel pulled in, tailbone pointed to the floor. Exhale and return to start. Aim for 3 sets of 12.

4. High Chair Lunges: Put your baby in a high chair or a stroller and face him, with your left foot back about 3 feet and your hands on your waist. Bend both legs until your right thigh is parallel to the ceiling, making sure your right knee stays in line with your ankle. Blow a kiss to your baby, slowly return to standing. Aim for three sets of 12 per leg.

5. Leg lifts: Hips expand during pregnancy which is why you may have lost the baby weight but still can’t button your jeans. This side leg lift can help. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands on your waist. Putting your weight on your left foot, lift your right leg out to the side, keeping is straight and parallel to the left leg. Slowly return to start. Try for two sets of 10 on each leg.

6. Push-Ups: Place your palms chest high on a wall in front of you. Step back about two feet away from the wall. Slowly lean into the wall, bending your elbows and inhaling for a count of five. Return to start, exhaling for a count of five. Aim for 3 sets of 10.

7. Triceps Tightener: Sitting on the floor with your knees bent, place your hands just behind your hips, fingers facing forward, arms straight and your butt lifted a few inches off the ground. As you inhale, keep your shoulders back and bend your elbows, lowering your upper body down to the floor in a “reverse” push up. Exhale as you slowly return to start. Try for 2 sets of 10.

8. Tummy Time: Lying on your stomach with your baby in front of you, rest  arms on either side of you in an airplane position and keep legs just wider than hip-width apart on the floor with toes pointed out. Then simultaneously lift your arms, legs and chest up off the ground, keeping arms and legs as straight as possible without locking elbows or knees. Hold for 10 seconds while you sing to your baby. Slowly return to start. Aim for 10 repetitions.

9. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes: Lie flat on your back with arms at either side, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Then, with your knees together, lift your legs off the floor, making a 90 degree angle- knees should be over hips, calves parallel to the floor. Hold for five deep breaths. Extra Challenge – Place your baby on your belly and lift your head and shoulders off the floor too. Repeat 3 times.

10. Alphabet: Lying flat on your back with your baby next to you, place your arms at either side and extend your legs straight up toward the ceiling, feet together. Then draw each letter of the alphabet with your toes while saying the letters to your baby. Keep the moves slow and be sure to have your navel pulled in toward the floor. Complete one set of the whole alphabet.

 

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