Let me start this off by saying… I love food. I love to cook, I love perusing grocery stores, I love food network magazine, and obviously I love to eat.
Inversely, the reality of my life is I live in an adorable motorhome converted into a tiny house, on a farm, and work from 5:00am until sometimes 8:30pm. Although my midday breaks allow for plenty of time to run errands and get meals in, it is not always the most convenient to have a home cooked meal when you live 20 minutes out of town. Going out to eat every meal not only adds up in cost, but makes it hard to feel like you are truly hitting dietary goals.
I have developed a shopping list that I like to call my “Get shit done, but don’t feel like a bag of dicks” grocery essentials. Also known as: Boss B*tch Go-To’s. I’m going to fill you in on my weekly essentials that not only help me get through my days, but help me get in my micronutrients, protein, and don’t kill the calorie game. Staying a lot lighter on my intake and meals and getting all of the essentials in during the weeks helps me have a lot more play room on the weekends. I am too busy to fuss during my weekdays, so I will save my calories and meals out for when I get to enjoy it with family and friends, or exploring new cities or wineries.
Take notes. This shit will save you a lot of turmoil (with planning, and the scale.)
My top 10 work week essentials:
I have recently developed a love affair with Fage 2% Greek Yogurt. I used to be all about that fat free yogurt life, until I tasted the difference of what 4g of fat per serving can add. However, this is personal preference. Other good brands that also come in easy pre-portioned containers are: Yoplait Greek Light & Fit & Oikos Triple Zero
Greek Yogurt not only is a relatively low in carb protein source, but is full of great natural probiotics that help with digestion and gut health. I eat mine with nutrient and fiber rich berries, a touch of cinnamon (which also has great thermogenic effects) and a sprinkle of stevia. If the texture of thicker greek yogurt creeps you out, try adding a splash of sugar-free flavored syrup that you would see at coffee shops, or a dollop of fat free whipped cream.
2. Trader Joe’s Chicken Sausages / Just Grilled Chicken
First off, you are going to need to get over your fear of sodium. Just chug water and get your other electrolytes and you are golden. Then you can thoroughly enjoy these tasty high protein/low carb sources to add to any veggies or eat on their own. It will save you time and a huge mess of prepping chicken… and they don’t smell like a fart when you open them up like prepped chicken breast does. Always a plus when you have to eat in public.
My favorite of the T-Joes sausages are the Spicy Jalapeno, and Sundried tomato. For around 100-110 calories per sausage, and 11g of protein they will not only satisfy your tastebuds but keep you satiated with their 6g of fat and low carbs. I just pop these babies in the microwave since they are already fully cooked.
The “Just Grilled Chicken” is killer to add on top of your salads, zucchini noodles, or just by itself. You will find just the bare minimum ingredients on the back of this package (chicken breast, seasoning, olive oil), which will make you feel good about eating pre-made grilled meat.
3. Cottage Cheese
You either love cottage cheese or hate it. But my favorite thing about cottage cheese is you can add numerous variations of toppings, or use it as a topping itself. Packed with protein, and in varying sizes of packaging to help with guesstimating your weekly portions. (For example, if one has 4 servings in it, I will know that in two days if I finish the whole thing I have eaten 2 servings a day, and will track it as such).
My current favorite way to top my cottage cheese is: Kalamata olives, roasted red pepper slices, pine nuts, pepper, garlic. Meditteranean deliciousness.
I also love getting rice cake thins ans using them to scoop it straight out of the container. There is something so gratifying about being able to finish off a container of something guilt free.
4. Pre-Mixed Protein Shakes
Watch the carbs on these guys, but these can be amazingly handy for a quick snack on the go. I have been using the EAS brand lately because I love the chocolate fudge. Places like GNC and Costco carry all different brands, and again – it’s all about personal preference and what fits your dietary needs.
My M.O. with these lately has been getting my iced americano, and when I am about 2/3 done, pouring my chocolate protein shake over the ice. Basically like an iced mocha without all of the sugars – and without the shits afterward. Pre-mixed protein typically has a great amount of potassium in them as well, which is something that most american diets are far too low in.
5. Bagged Mixed Greens & Bolthouse Farms Dressings
I’m that cool kid that literally opens up a bag of lettuce, pours in dressing, throws on chicken, shakes the bag, rolls it down into a bowl and eats it straight up. Nobody has time for dishes.
Bolthouse dressings are my preference for low calorie creamy dressings that actually taste good. They have a ton of variety, so you can easily change it up to not get burnt out on one kind of salad. My favorites right now are the Chipotle Mango in a salad with shrimp and peppers. Or try a taco salad version with the Cilantro Avocado dressing.
6. Baby Carrots, Sugar Snap Peas, Jicama sticks
These guys are lifesavers for getting in vegetables with minimal prep work. They give me fiber and vitamins I need daily, while giving me something crunchy to snack on throughout the day. I love having these around when my current dietary goal is to be in a deficit, because I can mindlessly munch on them without doing any real damage to a caloric intake. Unless you just really really love carrots and can eat them until you are blue in the face… you are probably okay.
7. Berries, and all other fruits
Keeping berries around make it super convenient to add in fiber and nutrients to any meal. Whether it be to top my greek yogurt, or throw in a salad it isn’t hard to find a yummy place for these.
Apples, pears, and pre-sliced melons can be a sweet snack to add in guilt free to your day and keep you full without completely blowing it. If fresh fruit of your choice isn’t in season, keep the frozen kind around. Fruit in the freezer section has been picked at it’s peak, and can be added to smoothies or thawed out to add to all of your favorite foods.
8. Deli Meat & Cheese
Not only can you count the slices of these to get a good guesstimation on your intake without having to have your food scale on hand, but you know that you are getting a great amount of protein and flavor no matter what. I like looking out for higher quality meats with low additives. As far as cheese goes, I am a huge fan of light string cheese or Babybel cheeses. Because… more food. Pre-sliced skim or 2% cheeses can also make for a nice little charcuterie-esque snack along with deli meat and some veggies.
9. Stevia packets & Individual coffee creamers
These guys are my flavor savers. I have trust issues when it comes to my drive-thru baristas, so having these in my office or work bag make it so I am in control of what goes into my essential daily coffee. I can also add a little sweetness to my yogurt or iced teas with the stevia packets. In my experience, when things actually taste satisfyingly delicious, I am less apt to overeat or go in search of more food.
10. Vitamin Water Zero & La Croix or other sparkling waters
Just as the name implies, Vitamin water is chalked full of vitamins and minerals. They are a great way to get in more fluids, or supplement if you are bad at taking your daily multivitamin. More fluids will help with energy, and feeling full between meals.
Carbonated drinks can also help aid in feeling full and satisfied. I am the first to admit I am a sucker for a diet squirt – but when I want to keep my artificial sweeteners in check and acidity for my teeth low, I turn to delicious carbonated zero calorie water like La Croix or any other fizzy sugar-free drink. I try to stick to the caffeine free varieties so that I can drink them late at night when those cravings kick in when I am in a stage that I am not wanting to give in.
In a perfect world we would eat all of our meals at home around a table. The reality is that most of us lead busy lives, with a budget in mind, and some regards for our health. I want to take care of my body while hitting on a weekly caloric average, and these 10 items help me grind it out. I am a firm believer in not having to eat the same thing everyday, but keeping these staples in give me more flexibility when it counts: date nights, girls trips, family time, and any other enjoyable even shared with others. By eliminating panic and stress, and then guessing game of my weekly intake I can fluidly enjoy when plans arise. I can keep it light, and if I get invited to tacos and tequila on a Wednesday, then I am prepared to lock it up the very next morning.
There is enough stress in daily life, so set yourself up to not obsess over being perfect – WITHOUT feeling like you are completely blowing it. Take care of your business and your body at the same time homegirls.
For personalized help with nutrition planning, or finding balance in your lifestyle – email me! I am always here to help.