If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time then you know that I am very passionate when it comes to the subject of eating balanced meals and staying active. I believe in the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time we eat better for us meals, like green power smoothies for breakfast, salads for lunch and veggie burgers or Lemon Feta Chicken, broccoli and rice for dinner; with a small treat to finish off the day. The remaining 20% of the time, when we are celebrating special occasions, vacationing, or dining out with friends, we treat ourselves to richer foods like Pasta Carbonara, pizza and cheesecake. It’s all about balance!
I take the same approach to working out. You aren’t going to find me training for a marathon, but I do get my 10,000 steps a day and I like to change things up with a few yoga classes, rowing or spin class. But if for some reason I don’t get my 10,000 steps one day, well I’m not going to be upset since all the other days of the week I am up and moving.
For me, this balanced way of life and mindset is what works for me and my life. I don’t feel deprived of anything and I feel like I can really enjoy doing things and look forward to preparing meals and breaking a sweat.
Don’t get me wrong, in writing it all seems so easy, but we all know real life can have it’s challenges. When we are busy or stressed it is easy to skip the workout or grab a fast dinner. One thing that has helped me is to create a recipe binder filled with our favorite “better for you” recipes. I know with all these savvy apps and hand held tablets, printed recipes seem so historic, but for me I would much rather be cooking from a printed recipe, so if I spill water I don’t have to worry about my computer or tablet getting ruined, and because I don’t have much counter top space for anything else. Plus, since I still get food magazines, a binder is a great way to save and organize recipes that I might clip or that my Mom emails me on a daily basis.
I also think sitting down with my binder full of tried and true, better for you recipes that we love; makes weekly meal planning so much easier and more efficient than spending hours surfing the web. This little binder really is the secret to sticking to those new year’s goals!
Today I decided to share with you how I organize my recipe binder that I use for weekly meal planning. I have included some meal planning printables (and even a fitness tracker!) that you can download for free and use to help you stay on track as well.
Included in my printables, are printables for “better for you” breakfast and treat/dessert options. For me this is where I sometimes get stuck. I’ll plan actual dinners but forget plan anything for breakfast or snacks. So when I go grocery shopping, I usually just throw whatever I see in the shopping buggy, which aren’t always the best options. Having a list of ideas of better for you treats, helps me actually plan and gives me ideas so I don’t get bored with my usual favorites.
Plus if you download my printables, you can tape them onto the fridge for gentle reminders or “better for you” treats when something “not so good” for you is staring you down.
Because I like to finish off the day with a small treat or indulgence, the treat list is my favorite. I try to rotate what I treat myself to at the end of the day. Being able to enjoy a small treat whether a fruit juice Popsicle, flavored yogurt cup or even a piece of chocolate; helps keep my sweet tooth satisfied. Recently while running an errand at Walmart, I spotted a special display of new DOVE® Chocolate Fruit and Nut near the register. These new flavors include DOVE® Dark Chocolate Strawberry and Cocoa Almond, DOVE® Dark Chocolate Blueberry and Vanilla Cashew and DOVE® Dark Chocolate Raspberry and Honey Roasted Almond (only available for a limited time). I am already a fan of DOVE® Dark Chocolate Blueberries and DOVE® Dark Chocolate Cranberries, so I was anxious to try these new flavors that had nuts added. I liked how the crunchy nuts paired with the rich and velvety chocolate covered fruit. The new DOVE® Chocolate Fruit and Nut certainly satisfied my chocolate craving with just a few bites of this “better for you” indulgence.
“Better For You” Recipe Binder and Meal Planning Tutorial
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions: www.kitchen-concoctions.com
Recipe Binder Printables
Print Outs of Recipes
1 (2-3 inch) Three Ring Binder
Tab Dividers with Pockets
Glue or Tape
Download and print off recipe binder and meal planning printables, and your favorite recipes.
Clip recipes from any food magazines, the newspaper or circulars. Organize clippings by topic and Glue or tape recipe clippings to 8½ x 11 pieces of paper.
Organize all recipes by main dish protein (beef, chicken, etc.) and side dish; place in page protectors. Write topics on tab dividers and add recipes to binder.
Reference food list and recipes when preparing weekly meal plan!
Quick “Better For You” Meal Planning Tips:
- Store recipes in this binder that you not only love but that are “better for you,” making them ok to put on the menu a few times a month. Store more indulgent recipes separately and reference them only for special occasions.
- On all the recipes I share here on Kitchen Concoctions, I try to share side dish recommendations. I make notes like this as well in my recipe binders and cookbooks. If it is a recipe you eat all the time, this may seem unnecessary, but since we eat the same main dish frequently, I like to change up the sides often. Like for Lemon Feta Chicken, our favorite side is Lemon Rosemary Rice and Braised Peas; but sometimes I do oven roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli instead. Having this written down for quick reference makes it easy to change things up and not get bored.
- Write down cooking notes or measurement adjustments on recipes. For me, since I cook all the time, this is a no brainier, and yet a helpful reminder/tip for those of you who may not cook as much. Did the recipe take less time to cook in your oven? Write it down! Used a different flavored vinegar the second time you made it and it turned out way better? Write it down!
- Reuse meal plans. Once I got this system down, I kept several of my meal plans at the back of my binder. Instead of starting from scratch meal planning every week, I re-purpose old meal plans and use them as is, or use them for inspiration to help me create a new plan with only half the work!
Visit the DOVE® Chocolate Fruit & Nut Site for more information about this product. Click here for a valuable coupon to try it yourself. And click here for additional tutorials and recipe ideas featuring this product.