Finding Balance

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The other week, I was taking a yoga class when the instructor started preaching about the importance of balance. I’m no stranger to the concept— my mom has iterated the importance of balance (body, mind, and soul) for as long as I can remember. However, the older I get and more responsibilities get piled on my plate, the harder it is to strike that balance (Mom and Dad, how did you ‘adult’ with three kids?!).

I found January especially difficult to find any sort of routine between traveling for work, starting a new role, transition/big news at work, and a move. Taking care of myself was the furthest thing from my mind— I was just trying to keep my head above water.

However, now that the move is over and life is somewhat settling down, I’m determined to get back on track. As with many things in life, preparation and planning are required to successfully achieve balance, especially during the work week. Lack of meal prep can make or break your waistline, not to mention your bank account.

It’s really important to prepare as much as possible during the weekend when you have more time and aren’t as frazzled. Having the right tools in your arsenal to help prep quickly and efficiently are also keys to success. My prep go-tos consist of the Inspiralizer (perfect to help you prepare the veggies and sometimes the fruit you’ll need for the week) and mason jars (great for jar salads and transporting delicious smoothies to work). You can pick up mason jars of all different sizes at Target or a hardware store.

Prepping veggies for the week with the Inspiralizer

A few other tips to help gear up for a healthy and balanced week:

  • When planning your meals for the week, I recommend using Skinnytaste’s meal planner. It helps you plan the meals you’ll cook during the week, set goals for yourself, and help you track what you eat to stay honest with yourself. It’s also great to refer back to when you are in need of inspiration re: what to cook. Bonus: there are a few recipes included that are not in Skinnytaste’s cookbooks.
  • As you think about what you’re going to make in the week ahead, try to find recipes that have similar ingredients, so you avoid wasting food. Waste=$.
  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and yet so many people are quick to write it off. Make a big batch of omelet muffins or smoothies on Sunday, so you can quickly grab something as you run out the door to that 8am meeting.
  • I’m a huge fan of mason jar salads. You can either prep all of the jars on Sunday (easy grab and go) or you can prep all the ingredients on Sunday and compile the jars throughout the week. I usually go with the latter, so I can use leftover protein from dinner and make sure leftovers don’t go to waste.

Remember, it’s also important to treat yourself every once in awhile, so that you don’t go off the deep end. Adam Rapoport, the editor in chief of Bon Appétit said it perfectly in this month’s magazine:

“At Bon Appétit, we believe that living a healthy-ish life is about balance. You can do what you can. You’re knowledgeable about what you put in your body. You take care of yourself. But you know it’s okay if you can’t quite strike that crow yoga pose, or if you sneak a bowl of peanut butter crackle ice cream the night before you wake up to a bowl of sheep’s-milk yogurt. We all want to be healthy. But isn’t it a lot more fun being healthy-ish?”

I don’t know about you, but I will never be 100% perfect when it comes to my diet. I love eating. I really love food that isn’t good for me like fries and pizza. Wine makes every occasion better.

It’s important to be okay with treating yourself every once in awhile, while striving to be healthy-ish. Granted I need to work on treating myself a little less and focusing more on being healthy-ish, but hey, I’ll get there.

Below I’ve included my meal plan for a delicious and healthy-ish week along with a few additional tips that I have found help me stay focused on finding balance in my diet.

Saturday:

Sunday:

  • Breakfast: Use the leftover spaghetti squash from the previous night to make baked eggs in spaghetti squash nests. You’ll have enough leftover egg nests for breakfast throughout the upcoming week.
  • Dinner: We usually have friends over for Sunday dinner, so I’ll make something a little “fancier” than I would during the week. It’s a great way to wrap up the weekend and shake off the Sunday scaries. The added bonus? We’ll usually have leftovers that we can have for dinner during a busy week night or a quick lunch. Check out this miso-ginger braised chicken with bok choy and barley  recipe (I subbed farro for the barley)— my husband and friend I made this for raved about it.

Monday:

  • Breakfast: Leftover egg nest and handful of blackberries
  • Lunch: Jar salad with leftover chicken from Sunday dinner
  • Snack: Turkey, spinach, and mustard cucumber noodle roll-ups
    Tip: Buy a pack of lunch meat (turkey or ham), a small jar of dijon mustard or hummus, pack a small bag of spinach, spiralize a cucumber on Sunday and seal in a ziplock bag with a paper towel, and store all of these ingredients in your company’s fridge. It’s a nice little break to make the roll ups at the office.
  • Dinner:  Balsamic chicken with roasted vegetables

Tuesday:

  • Breakfast: Leftover egg nest, handful of fruit
  • Lunch: Jar salad with leftover balsamic chicken
  • Snack: Turkey, spinach, and mustard cucumber noodle roll-ups
  • Dinner: Seared tuna with shaved vegetable salad
    Tip: Slice the veggies thinly vs. using a veggie peeler like the recipe calls for. The peeler took way too much time for a work night. Also, get a little more tuna than the number of people you’re making dinner for, so you have leftovers for lunch for the next couple of days.

Wednesday:

Thursday:

  • Breakfast: Smoothie
  • Lunch: Jar salad with leftover seared tuna, cucumber noodles, spinach, pomegranate, pear noodles, red onion, and maple-sesame vinaigrette
  • Dinner: Kale pesto zoodles with shrimp
    Tip: I subbed in zoodles vs. pasta for a lighter meal. If you do this, don’t reserve as much of the cooking liquid as the recipe calls for—reserve around 1/4-1/3 cups instead.

Friday:

  • Breakfast: Smoothie
  • Lunch: Leftover kale pesto zoodles with shrimp
  • Dinner: Out (i.e. the “treat yourself” I wrote about above)

Have tips of your own or a go-to quick and healthy weekday meal? Please share in the comments section below!

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