When doing a sugar detox, you become far more deliberate and methodical when planning meals—partially because you have to. After all, you don’t want to be caught off guard, stuffing your face with a plate full of easy-to-make mac and cheese—or worse yet—a Snickers bar!
Because of this, you have to become a good planner of meals. I tend to be strategic and make meal maps. I’d define “meal maps” as a basic plan that outlines ingredients for recipes and then charts out how those ingredients can be used across multiple meals in order to maximize your use of those ingredients, minimize waste, and help save you money. You would technically create your shopping list after making your meal map, so you know precisely what you need and how you’re going to use it. I’ve created a visual meal map below, so you can see exactly what I mean!
Consider following these five easy steps, which can save you both time and money—even if you’re not embarking on a sugar detox.
- Keep the “basics” on hand. I often have basic ingredients on hand, such as salt, pepper, ginger, and other spices, olive oil, vinegar, onions, garlic, lemons and limes. I find that I’m always using them in recipes, so my best advice is keep your pantry and refrigerators full of your core go-to ingredients. Getting those items when on sale is an added bonus!‘
- Use ingredients with the shortest shelf life first. If you have delicate greens, fresh herbs, or fresh fish, for example—then I would suggest including them in your meal map earlier in the week. If you are a meat-eater, fresh meat is also best used early—but can also be frozen, if need be, (though having to unthaw it later just adds more time to the food preparation process). Items like onions, potatoes, and even kale keep particularly well when stored properly—so try to use those ingredients across multiple meals throughout the week.
- Leave no ingredient behind. When we prepare food, we have a tendency to be very selective as to what parts we choose to eat. How many times have we cut off carrot tops and tossed them into the compost or trash? Why not toss them in with some leftover vegetables or chicken bones to make vegetable or chicken stock, respectively? Love beets but have a tendency to throw away the beet greens? Try sauteing them with some olive oil and a pinch of salt. Strategically plan a meal to use the “leftovers”. This doesn’t only reduce food waste, but it allows you to save money and quite frankly get the most nutrients out of your meals.
- Pick versatile ingredients. I love choosing ingredients that can be used different ways. Why not take a radish and roast it with other root vegetables for a hearty dish—and then have it the next day in a cold, crisp salad? And while you are at it, why not take of some of those microgreens you used in your salad for lunch and place them on top of your grass-fed burger later in the evening?
- Keep recipes simple. There is no need to get too complicated with your recipes; it’ll only stress you out! Keep recipes simple and let the ingredients stand on their own. If you like a certain meal—or meals within a meal map—there is no shame in making it making them again and again.
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