It’s a New Year and if you’re anything like us, after several weeks of cookies and heavy dishes, you’re probably ready for some healthier meals.
Between running a few businesses and life with a toddler, we’ve realized that if we aren’t careful to plan ahead, we fall into the trap of relying on tacos and frozen pizza. Now don’t get me wrong, we love tacos and we love a good pizza from time to time, but when it comes to healthy eating, we know it’s important to eat a variety of items throughout the day (and week).
We really enjoy cooking, and on weekends we tend to try more time intensive dishes (Half Baked Harvest Recipes, fancy desserts and smoked meats), but during the week, we need a solid plan in order to streamline meals and get dinner on the table before an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is over (ideally one that doesn’t require prepping anything earlier in the day!).
We’ve tried all sorts of meal planning and food delivery services, but after interviewing CookSmarts founder Jess Dang, we started using the service ourselves.
CookSmarts is MUCH more affordable than something like HelloFresh and I love how easy it is to modify meals. Each Thursday we receive the menu for the following week. The menu includes four meals but the CookSmarts software makes it easy to switch other favorite meals into your lineup, scale a meal up or down to accommodate more people or turn a meal paleo, gluten free (which we do), or vegetarian.
We typically end up making two of the suggested meals for the week and then we swap in some of our favorites. We don’t always love every meal, but we have found a few that are so delicious, house guests have asked for the recipe (always a win in my book!).
Their free trial makes it easy to test out the site and if you do, I highly recommend the Maple-Brined Pork Chop with Pan Sauce, Slow Cooker Mojo Pork Bowl, Instant Pot (or not) White Chicken Chili, and the West African Chicken in Peanut Sauce (Mafe). See my last few months of favorites here.
CookSmarts is less than $8 a month if you grab the annual subscription (totally worth it!).
Davey stumbled across this app a few years ago while looking for a way to eat healthier. It allows you to log and calculate the macros you need each day (fats, carbs, and protein) based on whether you’re cutting, maintaining, or massing. You set a goal weight to achieve during a time period (usually 8 or so weeks,) and then, based on your current weight, it gives you a plan for your macros at each meal.
We love that it doesn’t count calories but serves as a guide. So if for example, we’re having West African Chicken in Peanut sauce for dinner (thanks CookSmarts), Davey can tell the app he’s having chicken, peanuts, a few specific veggies and rice. The app will then tell him how much of each piece of dinner he can eat to stay on track with his goal. Using a food scale, Davey then measures out his meal for the night (and normally it’s a GOOD portion!). I’ve done the app as well and I was surprised at just how much I was eating.
You can choose how many meals you eat throughout the day (so whether you prefer fewer, larger meals or several smaller meals) and with the six meals a day plan, I never got to the point where I was incredibly hungry. And unlike other diets, as long as you’re within your macros, you can eat just about anything!
Renaissance Periodization also has workouts that go with their program, and we have both purchased their weightlifting plans.
I know that many of you probably already do this. We had actually tried several of the grocery store services in Annapolis but never loved them. I remember ordering through Giant once and receiving ten massive, past-their-prime broccoli stems. Other times it seems that our produce was already rotten by the time it arrived at our house.
Since moving to a more rural area of Virginia, the more limited choice in grocery shopping pushed us to the Walmart app. I was hesitant at first, but it’s actually the best delivery/pickup service we’ve used so far.
As farmers ourselves, we do buy quite a few things from other farmers weekly, but the bulk of our household items come through Walmart pickup.
I’ve found that if I place an order for a Friday morning pickup earlier in the week (to save my “spot”), I can update my cart throughout the week and do a final grocery order Thursday evening when the CookSmarts menu comes out and I meal plan for the following week.
The only other way of streamlining that should get an honorable mention is the Instant Pot. We bought one a few years ago after watching our friend Jill put an entire frozen, whole chicken in the Instant Pot and pull out a perfect chicken 45 minutes later. The Instant Pot definitely makes dinner time MUCH easier!
So here’s to a year of healthier eating. If you have any other great tips, we would love to learn about them!
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