For many, meal planning can be difficult. This is something that I see online and talk to clients about as well. The struggle can is figuring out how to make meals that…
- Taste good.
- Keep us full.
- Can be made in a timely manner.
- Aren’t too boring.
I think the first thing I want to lay out is that if you don’t enjoy most of your meals, moderating your diet will kind of suck. This isa big reason why weight loss can be hard and maintaining after can be even harder. We need to look at the word diet as what we eat every day and make lifestyle changes instead of what we traditionally think of as a short-term diet that has the sole purpose of weight loss.
Now, that’s not to say that you’re going to love every meal, you probably won’t, but what I am saying is if you don’t like kale, don’t eat it. The flip-side, regardless of what you see online, you probably won’t be eating cake every day too.
Since number two is a little more in depth than I want to goin to for this post, we’ll skip that for now, but just know that these are foods I buy and meals I make because they keep me satisfied – that’s not a promise that they will keep you satisfied.
First thing’s first. Check out this post if you haven’t already. You’re going to want to think of your grocery list and your staples before diving into cooking.
So, breakfast, I think we need to remove that label.
We’re going to casually say this is the first meal of the day because:
- Not everyone eats first thing in the morning.
- I believe that by reducing meal labels, we startto have more flexibility with the foods we eat at different times of the day.
- Sometimes I really want a “lunch” for “breakfast”.
My morning routine allows me to have unlimited time to make and eat breakfast. I try to limit it to an hour. I know not everyone has an hour to do this, so some of these meals may be better for the weekend or make ahead, which is completely reasonable.
First meal, protein pancakes or waffles.
I’ve made these a few ways and yes, you can make them the night before and they’re still good. You can also bake them in a muffin tin and make pancake muffins – those are excellent for easy travel and egg sandwiches (just cut them in half!)
You can check out my protein pancake recipe using Kodiak cakes if you want to boost the protein or you can follow the instructions on the box. It’s a ‘just add water’ mix and the PowerCakes already have about 14g of protein per serving. I measure out the serving using my scale so I can make them for me and JP because you just don’t want to fuck with baking chemistry by not having enough water to mix and visa versa. We use this mix for both pancake Monday’s and waffle Wednesday’s.
An easy solution for the person who hates measuring daily: measure out the mix when you buy it so you can just grab the portion you need when you need it. Ziplock snack bags are awesome, but on a budget the store brand should seal fine too.
If you don’t have time in the morning to get pancakes going, these keep well overnight or you can mix them up and bake them in a muffin tin for 10 minutes at 350 degrees while you get coffee started and your lunch gathered for later in the day. Multitasking at it’s finest.
Some other pancake recipes that I’ve made from scratch that take about 15 minutes-ish, but can also be popped in the oven:
Also, fun toppings include peanut butter or nuts or berries or this Protein frosting.
Second and third meal,breakfast sandwiches and toasts.
We grain load in the morning because we both find that the complex carbohydrates keeps us full longer. There is research that discusses the benefits of complex carbohydrates and fiber-rich carbohydrates such as slower digesting, which helps control blood sugar as well, but again, we’ll go into that another time.
My go-to grain most mornings is a cinnamon raisin English muffin, but I also really love Arnold’s 100% whole grain bread as well as their Oatnut bread.
Here are breakfast sandwich combinations I enjoy:
- A toasted English muffin of choice with one whole egg and one egg white, slice cheese
- Toast with one whole egg and one egg white, cream cheese, tomato and onion
- A toasted English muffin of choice with two or three egg whites and peanut butter
- A toasted English muffin of choice with two or three egg whites and blueberry goat cheese
- A toasted English muffin of choice with two or three egg whites with sliced cheese, tomato and onion
- Toast or English muffin with cream cheese, smoked salmon, one whole egg, tomato and onion
- Optional on savory sandwiches: a slice of bacon because that makes the world go ‘round
Bacon is one of those every now and then foods that I enjoy, it’s a treat, but I definitely can’t throw back a pound of it like I used.
Bacon buying pro-tip: buy at the meat counter.
This allows you to get specifically however many slices youneed. We each eat two with one or two being a technical recommended serving depending on the brand. This usually comes out to a tenth of a pound or about $1.00 to $1.50 The standard package of bacon comes in one-pound packages and with two of us, we don’t need that much bacon around. So, not only is this portion control, but you can also save money if you’re buying what you actually need.
Bacon cooking pro-tip: place bacon on baking sheet and place in oven for 8 to 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Perfectly crispy and less mess!
Egg cooking pro-tip: Scrambled eggs are super easy to make, but if you’re a runny yolk person, crack you egg into a pan on medium heat and place a lid over it for a few minutes. This will cook the egg without flipping and it will be perfectly runny.
Toasts are treated just like sandwiches, but more often they have peanut butter on them. I’ve also done savory spreads like roasted red pepper spread.
Breakfast “grilled cheese” is looped in with breakfast sandwiches, and it’s exactly what it sounds like except, instead of buttering the bread and panfrying it, I bake them – either in the toaster oven or the actual oven. This gets the cheese melty and the bread appropriately toasty.
“Grilled cheese” fillings include:
- Cream cheese and Nutella with strawberries
- Blueberry goat cheese
- Goat cheese and fresh blueberries
- Cream cheese and peanut butter
You can have a ton of fun with this!
Fourth meal, omelets and frittatas. The difference between these two? I make one stove top and the other is open-faced in the oven. Typically, in a mini pie pans that you can find here.
These are just like sandwiches, diverse.
My standard omelet has one whole egg and two whites, but sometimes I’ll do two whole eggs and one white. If I’m not super hungry, I’ll do one of each.
For fillings, this where we’ve been getting creative.
If you’re lactose intolerant, you don’t need cheese to enjoy these, even though it seems like most omelets have cheese. Avocado or guacamole is an awesome substitute for a creamy filling, or you can just load it with veggies. The same methodology goes for frittatas.
Here are some of my favorite combinations of frittatas:
Three egg whites and one whole egg with
- Mushroom, peppers and onions topped with goat cheese crumble
- Broccoli and sweet onion with goat cheese crumble
- Mushrooms and peppers with shredded Mexican blend and salsa
For most of our omelets and frittatas, I’ll serve toast or an English muffin on the side or roasted vegetable. More common green vegetables on the side: brussels sprouts or more broccoli. Starchy vegetables: sweet potato, red potato or butternut squash.
Side note: sweet potato mashed up with peanut butter is amazing. Just think – sweet and salty.
As far roasting vegetables for with my first meal, this is where leftover vegetables are awesome for repurpose, especially if you have an awkward amount left that isn’t quiet a serving.
Fifth meal, French toast. Similar to pancakes, these can easy be made the night before and reheated in a toaster oven to perfection. I’ve also made French toast and tossed it in the oven on a baking sheet for about 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Again, the purpose is mostly so I can do other things without theconcern of starting a fire on the stove top.
I make French toast with egg whites, vanilla and cinnamon, maybe a splash of milk if you need it. So, crack an egg white into a bowl splash some vanilla extract and a dash some cinnamon, beat together well and then dip your bread. One egg typically covers two slices of bread. If you like sweet egg white, crack two and cook what you don’t use to eat on the side.
Sixth meal, overnight oats. If you really are here because you need to save some time, this is for you. As the name suggests, I make these the night before, but you can make them a few days before and leave them in the fridge.
I’ve also made some stove top oats too when they’ve been agame time decision like gingerbreadoats.
Last meal, granola and egg white bowls.
This is where you have to lend some trust.
Without the yolk, egg whites are very bland and will take on whatever flavor profile you want them too. They can be spicy or savory or sweet.
I make them sweet with a splash of vanilla extract and some cinnamon, then scramble.
For a granola bowl, I top sweet egg whites with cream cheese or goat cheese. The blueberry goat cheese is my favorite. I’ll also add melted peanut butter and then granola. Start to finish this takes 10 minutes.