Why Pre-Planning Works for Me

I learned early on in my weight loss journey that pre-planning was definitely in the cards for me.  I have a better week and even a far simpler day when my meals are planned out for me.  It makes avoiding temptation easier and it even gives me things to look forward to – whether that is dessert, a snack, or even a particular meal of the day.
Undoubtedly pre-planning takes a little getting used to, especially if it’s not something you did prior. I do not feel it takes a whole lot of work – if I had to guestimate I would say it takes me about 3-5 minutes to pre-plan my entire day the night before.  Once I know what I’ll be having, I then pack those items up to have in the refrigerator so when I need to leave in the morning I can grab my bag (without having to think) and off I go. Now I choose to pre-plan the night before because when I wake up in the morning I already know what I’m having for breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner.  It simplifies my routine and I love simple.  Dinner is always noted in my tracker and my nightly snack is occasionally jotted down, but there are times where I leave myself with 2-6 points to figure out what I want for snack that night (depending on my mood).
Pre-planning can help you in a multitude of ways.  It can help you watch your spending on groceries (if you’re on a budget you can pre-plan a weeks worth of meals based on your budget and pick and choose from that meal chart). It can push along your weight loss by keeping you focused and on track.  It can be that unseen “angel” on your shoulder giving you the strength to resist the daily temptations that come along with life and food.  It just makes things so much easier.
I personally meal plan daily because I find it to be easier for me, but I have also planned my meals for an entire week – including breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner.  I usually pre-plan weekly meals when I really need focus and structure, particularly when I’ve been in the same food rut.  I like to switch up what I’m eating and when I’m stuck I put everything on paper because it forces me to think outside the box.
Typically I plan my meals around what is in the house (cabinets, freezer and refrigerator), but since I do grocery shop 3-4 times a week (usually it’s to run in to get fresh produce or vegetables and a few other odds and ends) if I see something I want to make I’ll pick it up and incorporate it into the meal plan for the next day.
Breakfast items are typically staple; so I plan those according to what I feel like eating.  Sometimes it’s a “true” breakfast: eggs, home fries and sausage/bacon – other times it’s a deli meat sandwich or even cereal.  There have been a few times where a leftover hamburger has been my breakfast!  The beauty of pre-planning is you really can see and adjust where you spend your point allowance.  For instance, there are instances where I know lunch and dinner are going to be higher in points, so I’ll keep breakfast under a certain amount of points but I ensure it is are going to be equally as filling.
9 times out of 10 I bring a packed lunch from home with me to work.  For years I’ve instilled in myself that it’s just ridiculous to spend $10+ for a meal at lunch for something that I may not necessarily enjoy.  Occasionally I do decide to have lunch out on the go, but I try to ensure those meals are as pre-planned as possible. There have been instances where what I have brought in to eat was just not edible (which I’ve learned try not to bring something in you’ve never eaten before) I do make the exception to grab a quick bite out.  But I try to stick around the same points plus value my original pre-planned lunch was at.  For example, one time I brought in vegetarian eggplant hamburgers with salad and wheat flax pita bread.  The whole lunch was to be 7 points plus.  I had never tried eggplant hamburgers before, but I was feeling adventurous.  When I assembled my hamburgers and took one bite I was completely repulsed. I couldn’t even stomach it with a blocked nose (not that I’d want to spend 7 points plus on something I had to block my nose to eat!).  I ended up needing to reevaluate my lunch plans. Do I go to Subway? Do I go to McDonald’s? I wasn’t feeling either option – so I ended up at the local grocery store, picking up a frozen dinner for 5 points plus and some fresh fruit.
Dinner is normally my biggest point allowance and consumption.  I don’t cook just for myself; I cook for others, so I have to take into account the pallets of others.  Not everyone is going to like the same things, so it’s all about finding a common ground and introducing new foods in fun and unique ways that are flavorful and enjoyable.  I cook because I enjoy it, but I’m not going to make two separate meals – well that is, unless I REALLY want macaroni and cheese (my boyfriend will not eat a food dish that has cheese in/on it – outside of pepperoni pizza) or I want a lower point pasta.  In those instances I’ll throw another small pot of water onto boil – but other than those 2 instances our meal is our meal, no exceptions. Plus, I find knowing what we are having for dinner ahead of time gives us a meal to look forward to.
Understandably life happens and sometimes plans change.  There have been many times where dinner is completely planned out and the phone rings and we’re extended an invite to come over or go out for dinner.  Yes, I follow Weight Watchers but that doesn’t mean I cannot go out for dinner or eat someone else’s food.  That’s the flexibility with Weight Watchers – I can go out and enjoy myself and not feel guilty because I can dip into my 49 weekly points if needed. It’s nothing I get stressed out over, as long as I have the points I’m golden.  The only extra work is deleting what I’ve already tracked in my tracker and replacing it with the new meal I’ll be having in replacement of it.
One of the reasons I love pre-planning is because it keeps me honest and it keeps me incredibly focused. How? Well, yesterday was National Donut Day and I love donuts (probably just as much as I love pizza).  I still eat donuts whenever I want one because it’s a food I enjoy. Well, on this grand day donuts were being given out free to customers who ordered a coffee beverage from two of the local coffee shops in town.  I didn’t order a coffee from Dunkin Donuts, but I did order a coffee from my favorite local coffee house (who also, BTW, sells THE best donuts).  I decided to bypass the donut – letting my boyfriend get 2 donuts for himself.  Why? Because I didn’t plan on having a donut – but I DID plan on having a piece of cake I had made the day before.  That piece of cake was delicious and far better than the momentary enjoyment I would have received from the donut.  Plus, my cake was 4 points plus compared to the 9-13 points plus that donut would have cost me.  Now – if I decided that I really wanted that donut, I could have just juggled up my day.  I would have not had my piece of cake, I would have not had my Pringles and I would have dipped into my weeklies for the remainder of the points I’d have needed to cover it.
I enjoy this method because it keeps me on track and focused, but it also allows me flexibility.  What I have written down is not etched in stone.  If things need to be changed up, I can do that, without guilt.  But I also know I feel like a rockstar having gotten through a whole day, resisting temptation and feeling satisfied with my choices.
Do you pre-plan your meals?  If not, is it something you consider trying?

Homemade Breakfast Turkey Sausage Patties

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Trying to switch up what I eat, I felt inspired to make breakfast turkey sausage patties.  For the most part when my boyfriend and I have ground turkey out, we make tacos or pasta sauce, so this was a great way to “think outside the box.”  We actually ended up making this for dinner because breakfast for dinner is always a great way to go!
We served these up with scrambled eggs; bagel thins and shredded hash brown potatoes with a half of a sliced pear for garnish (my boyfriends personal touch!). Great delicious meal!
Serves 8. 2-3 Points Plus (depending on weight after cooking).
  • 20.8 oz (1.3 lbs) 93/7 Lean Ground Turkey (I used Shady Brook Farms)
  • ¼ cup Sugar Free Vermont Maple Syrup
  • ~1 teaspoon salt (or whichever you’re comfortable with)
  • ~1 teaspoon black pepper (or however much you’re comfortable with)
  • ~2 1/2 tablespoons Bell’s Seasoning
Combine ground turkey, salt, pepper and bell seasoning in a bow.  Add in maple syrup and combine well.  You can adjust your seasonings by judging the smell of the meat.
Score meat with your hand into 8 even sections (note: you can make as many patties as you wish and you can make your patties as thin or as thick as you wish – cooking time and points plus values will vary). Roll the meat into balls and set in the bowl to try to get all patties the same size.
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and begin to place your formed patties into the pan.  Let the patties cook, not moving the patties to allow them to form a “crust”.  When half-way cooked (roughly 4 minutes or so) flip and cook on the other side.  Since this is poultry, please ensure your sausage is cooked all the way through!

Homemade Rocky Road Fudge

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Every year at Christmas time I make fudge to give to family and friends as a “thinking of you” type of gift.  Typically I make a Bailey’s Walnut fudge, but this year I decided to experiment and make a few different batches.  The fudges I made turned out to be such a hit I think I’m going to just make these flavors moving forward.
Talking to my boyfriend I decided I’d try out a Rocky Road fudge.  The ingredients are very similar (minus the added mini marshmallows) in comparison to the recipe I’ve always used. They were quite delicious.  The fudge recipe I use is seriously the best fudge I’ve ever had – and I’m not just saying that because I made it!  If you do give it a try – I hope you enjoy!
If you are going to try this recipe do keep in mind this makes a large 13×9 pan of fudge.
I put my recipe into the Recipe Builder on Weight Watchers and I throw in the amount of fudge pieces I end up with to figure out the points.  Typically I end up with 4-5 Point Plus Value pieces of fudge.
Now onto the recipe:
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1/2 pound butter
2 (12 ounce) packages milk chocolate chips
1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips
4 cups mini marshmallows & 2 cups of mini marshmallows
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chopped walnuts

Pour chocolate chips, 4 cups mini marshmallows, vanilla extract, and walnuts in a very large bowl. Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, place the butter, sugar and evaporated milk into the pan.

Cooking on medium/high to medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil (don’t forget to stir it).  Once you start to see bubbles forming set your timer and cook for exactly 11 minutes (depending on how it’s boiling you can lower your heat setting a little from medium-high to medium), stirring constantly.   Make sure you stir constantly or it WILL burn on you.
Once done, pour your hot liquid mixture over the ingredients in the bowl and stir slowly to blend using a metal spoon.
Right before your mixture looks like its setting, dump in the remaining 2 cups of marshmallows and blend in.  You don’t want the marshmallows to melt completely as it is Rocky Road fudge.
Pour into a buttered 13 x 9-inch pan and chill very well. Cut when cold.

Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut – Golden Honey Nut Cereal

I received a box of Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Golden Honey Nut cereal from BzzAgent to review.  I admit I was intrigued because I go through phases with cereals – there are staples that I always buy once the box is emptied and then there are other times where I am looking for something new to jazz up my cereal bowl (or even my yogurt cup).  I admit I do not eat cereal all the time, but I enjoy having it as a back-up or even having phases where cereal is a meal for a week or two.

I admit when I saw the name “Crunchy Nut” and “Golden Honey Nut” I instantly thought – unhealthy.  I chalked it up to possibly being a sugar ridden cereal that was going to be more calories than necessary.  I admit when I saw the caloric states I was quite surprised.  120 calories for a ¾ cup serving?  Not bad at all!  I converted the stats into Weight Watchers Points Plus values and it was 3 PPV’s per serving.  Certainly not bad!  One of my staple cereals is higher in calories and WW PPV’s than that.
I’ve eaten the cereal by itself (with no milk) and I’ve also enjoyed it with almond milk and a sliced banana.  Both ways are equally delicious.  Without milk it’ll give you that subtle sweet-crunchy that you may be looking for.  With milk it kind of reminds me of a less sweet frosted flakes that are crunchier and that don’t sog out so quickly.
I find eating this with a banana and almond milk it is decently filling.  I can eat it for breakfast (or as another meal during the day) and I’m not poking around the kitchen seeing what else there may be to eat.
Overall I can say I’ve really been enjoying this cereal and have been eating it at least once a day since receiving.  Two thumbs up, Kelloggs!
Have you tried any of the Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut cereals?

Healthy Breakfast Sandwich

As unhealthy as it is for you, there’s one thing that I used to really enjoy a McDonald’s Sausage McMuffin (that is before I started on my healthy lifestyle change).  Eggs, sausage, cheese, English muffin and cheese – quite a great design for a yummy sandwich.  Sadly, the greasiness of a sausage mcmuffin at McDonald’s or even at a diner is too heavy and fatty on my stomach.  So I’ve learned to make things in a healthier manner.  I do switch this sandwich up depending on what’s available in the house.  I’ve been known to switch the meat choices up with turkey sausage, turkey bacon, Canadian bacon, deli ham or just eliminating the meat all together.  Whereas for the eggs I usually go with seasoning with salt and pepper – but I have been known to add sautéed peppers (and onions if available) into the eggs to make them southwestern-y.
To make this 6-Points Plus Value sandwich, I used 1 Light English muffin (2 points plus value), 1/3 cup Eggbeaters (1 pointsplus value), 1 frozen turkey sausage patty (1 pointsplus value) and 1 slice fat free American cheese (1 pointsplus value).
I toasted the English muffin in the toaster and spritzed a glass bowl with Pam and added in my eggbeaters, sprinkled with salt and pepper and microwaved for 1 minute.  I scooped the egg away from the bowl and microwaved for 45-60 seconds (until all egg was cooked and not liquidy).  I then wrapped my sausage in a napkin and microwaved fro 1 minute.  After that I just assembled my sandwich and enjoyed – so delicious!

Perdue Simply Smart Lightly Breaded Chicken Chunks

I had picked up these Perdue Simply Smart Lightly Breaded Chicken Chunks at my local grocery store a few weeks ago and had the bag stashed in the freezer waiting for an excuse to be cooked.  That excuse came today because I didn’t have dinner planned and didn’t want to go out to eat.  So I decided to bake these tenders up along with some frozen waffle fries and some fresh steamed veggies.  I have to say, my boyfriend and I were both in agreement, this chicken is AMAZING!  It’s SO good!  Its chicken breast meat with rib meat, but the chicken itself is white when you bite into it.  It’s got a good texture, similar to the texture you get with a real chicken nugget/tender.  It doesn’t have a whole lot of breading on it, since they are lightly breaded and a healthier alternative in comparison to the other frozen chicken choices out there.  They bake up in 10 minutes and are just overall quite yummy.
Point Plus Value wise – these are 3 oz for 4 points, of 6 ounces for 7 points.

Triple Berry Crumble

I made a triple berry crumble for Thanksgiving to bring as a dessert to my boyfriend’s aunt’s house for his side of the families Thanksgiving celebration.  Secretly, this was a Weight Watchers recipe – but I’ve made it once before last summer or the summer before and I knew it was really yummy.  The only thing I switched up in this recipe was that I used a frozen triple berry mix (blueberries, blackberries and raspberries) instead of two different fresh berries (blueberries and raspberries).  I also made 1 ½ times the recipe so I could spread it a little further incase it was a hit on the dessert table.

Here’s the recipe that I used (brought back down to a single recipe, not 1 1/2):

4 cups triple mixed frozen berries
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unpacked light brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl and mix together.  Remove 3 tablespoons of the mixture.

Place berries in a medium bowl, sprinkle with the set aside 3 tablespoons of flour/sugar mixture.  Gently toss the berries to coat.

Add the melted butter into the flour/sugar mixture and stir continuously until combined.  It’ll look a little lumpy, but the more you stir, the wetter the mixture gets.  It’ll look like a very loose, raw cookie dough.

Place the berries in the bottom of a baking dish (you can spray with Pam if you wish) then crumble the topping onto the berries.

Bake in a 350 degree oven – yields 8 servings.

Healthy Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Who knew having chocolate covered strawberries for breakfast would not only be healthy BUT delicious at the same time?  I certainly wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, but I’m glad I tried it because it was delicious!

I started off by putting a teaspoon of baking cocoa powder in a sandwich baggie.  I added in a sprinkle of cinnamon and 1/2 a packet of Equal.  I mixed it together – then washed my strawberries, dried them just a tad, then cut them into pieces and added those pieces into my sandwich baggie with the cocoa mixture.

I sealed the bag shut and shook it up — the powdered ingredients easily covering the strawberries.  I then dropped them into a bowl and ate as a side to my breakfast (ham sandwich on wheat).  The strawberries were delicious!  The cocoa turned a little wet so it wasn’t dry and ready to choke me at any minute.  Some of the strawberries as they sat in the bowl got very chocolatey.  Sinfully delicious!

This was 0 Points Plus Values since the teaspoon of cocoa powder was 0 pts — and strawberries are free under the plan.

Hillshire Farms – Garlic & Herb Grilled Chicken Breast

I never knew Hillshire Farms sold prepackaged chicken breast until I spotted these while on at Target run.  I’ve been checking out Targets refrigerated food section because I’ve been finding Target stocks the yogurt and the BBQ chicken I like – where if I want those items I have to travel further up to Walmart to get them.  Anyway!  I purchased these prepackaged, precooked garlic & herb flavored chicken breast and I have to say they are REALLY good!  I wasn’t sure if they would be good because I’m a chicken snob, especially when it comes to premade chicken because it can sometimes taste artificial, fatty, or like rubber.  These don’t taste like any of those things.  The chicken is actually moist, flavorful and quite good.  The calorie count is low – I want to say it was between 90-120 (I finished them & threw the box out).  Each box contains 2 prepackaged chicken breast, that you heat in the microwave for 60 seconds in it’s little warming pouch.  Quite good!  If you’re in the mood for a quick meal that you can incorporate into a salad or into a sandwich – I suggest you try these out!  The greatest part – they’re only 2 points plus values each!