Set yourself up for success!
The key to eating well and sticking to your PCOS diet is to plan ahead. In 20-30 minutes, you can plan an entire week’s worth of meals and snacks that will keep you on track. It’s when we fail to plan that we end up hitting the vending machine at the office or picking up take-out on the way home- disaster.
Here’s how I do it:
1) Make a date with your calendar. I set aside time on the weekend to plan the coming week’s meals. First, I make a cup of tea. Then, I layout a simple menu plan to fill in. See my example below. I check the family calendar and plan dinners around the amount of time I will have to prepare a meal and whether we have time for a sit down meal together. For example, on Wednesday, my son has a game at 5:30. That means I need a simple dinner that may even be taken with us to the field. On Thursday, I will volunteer at my daughter’s school all day, so I know there will be no time for prep, but we will all be home for dinner. This type of day often calls for a crockpot meal. You get the idea. If I don’t plan like this, I find myself frustrated that the meals I plan are not going to work for that day. I don’t usually plan for breakfast and dinner. If you have experienced Jumpstart, you know that I “automate” these meals. I keep the basic ingredients on hand for my “typical” breakfasts, and lunches are often left-overs. This way, I can focus on dinners and snacks.
|Rhett’s Game @ 5:30||Lila’s School
|Baked Whole Chicken, Grilled Asparagus||Pineapple Chicken Salad Pitas (use leftover chicken)||Beef Daube Provençal (crockpot)|
2) What do you have in the fridge? Before I work out my menu plan, I take a quick inventory of what I have in the fridge and pantry. That frozen salmon I bought on sale should be used, so I plan for that. This way, I waste less food and spend less money.
3) Check grocery flyers. I like to check the supermarket flyers to see what is on sale. If fresh cod or haddock is on sale, it will probably make it onto the menu. If organic chicken or grass fed beef is on sale, I will often buy double and freeze half.
4) Make a list! Never, never, never go into a grocery store without a list. Shopping without a list means that you will surely impulse buy things you do not need (or shouldn’t eat) and/or forget ingredients and have to return. I have a generic list of things my family needs every week on my computer. I add to it all of the items from the week’s menu, and voila- my list is complete.
5) Be strategic. If it’s possible, start at your Farmers’ Market. Stock up on your fresh fruits and vegetables there before heading to the grocery store. They will be fresher and probably less expensive. I usually grocery shop on Mondays and stock up for the week. I visit again on Friday to restock for the weekend. Learn the rhythm of your grocery store. When do they receive the fresh fish deliveries? Are there better days for fruit? Ask the staff at the market. They are often a great source for “inside info.” Also, be flexible with your list. If you were planning to have broccoli, but the asparagus looks fantastic- buy the asparagus! Finally, try to stay out of the middle of the store. This is typically where all of the processed food is kept.
6) Rate your menus. In my house, we have a 4-star rating system. After each meal, my husband and kids rate the meal. I keep 3 and 4 star rated meals on file to use again. Building this collection makes planning easier, and I always have a “go to” recipe when I am feeling uninspired.
7) Use Planned-overs. There are several ways to do this. First, plan meals with more servings than you need for dinner. Set aside the left-overs in individual servings to have for lunch. Second, plan an alternative use for ingredients you can make ahead. For example, on Monday night you could make a roasted chicken. Leftovers can be tossed into a salad or seasoned and made into fajitas for Wednesday.
8) Plan Emergency Back-Up Meals. Some days, the best laid plans don’t work out. Things come up at the last minute, the chicken goes bad in the fridge- really anything can happen. In these cases, I have go-to emergency meals. Things like frittatas are quick, healthy meals that can be made with ingredients you have on hand.
9) Prep as Much as Possible on the Week-End. For advice on how to do this, check out my article, “PCOS Diet-Friendly Meal Planning: The 7 Best Tips for Prepping.”
Do you have some good planning tips? Share them below!