Prepare Thyself for Battle

“I don’t have time to eat healthy!”
“Eating clean is too expensive!”
“I just have to grab something when I can.”Does this sound like you? It sounds like me too, not long ago. It’s tough enough finding time in our busy schedules to fit in exercise, without trying to make sure your food is healthy too. It’s so easy to order out from work or to just stop somewhere and pick up a bite to eat.

The solution is to have a system.

Chicken breast -> Grill -> Weigh and pack

Chicken breast -> Grill -> Weigh and pack

Things you’ll need:

  • Containers (we use a combination of Ziplock, Rubbermaid, and Gladware)
  • Cooking supplies (a pot for veggies and either an oven or a Foreman-style grill)
  • List of foods you like (or want to try)
  • A food scale (if you want to track portions closely)

Then you pick a day and cook!

So is this doable, and does it help?  Let’s look at a standard meal we eat often and compare nutrition, value, and time against picking something up.

We usually put together meals with a meat, a vegetable, and a starch.  One of our most common is grilled chicken, broccoli florets, and sweet potato.  The sweet potato does add some extra carbs, so you could swap this out to reduce the carbs even further. I’ve given the meal sizes in terms of what I would eat, as a 200+ pound man. Obviously, if the portions were reduced, for instance to 4 oz of chicken and a 3oz sweet potato, the calories will go down even more.

A Homemade Meal
Food Item  Calories Nutrition
5oz grilled marinated chicken 234 Fat:  3g
Carbs:  3g
Protein: 35g
1 cup broccoli florets 30 Fat: 0g
Carbs: 4g (Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g)
Protein: 1g
4 oz sweet potato 100 Carbs:  24g (Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 8g)
Protein: 4g
TOTALS (12 oz meal): 364 Fat:  3g
Carbs:  31g (Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 10g)
Protein: 40g

This is a healthy meal with no added preservatives or other chemicals, and it only took a few minutes to put together several for the week. Now how much did it cost?

We get boneless chicken breast on sale and stock up, so it’s usually $1.99 per pound. That makes a 5 oz portion $0.62. We’ll buy the broccoli in a large bag for quantity, and that’s about $3 for a pound. A cup of broccoli is about 85g, or 3 ounces, so the broccoli comes to $0.56. Finally, a sweet potato goes for maybe $1.50 per pound, so at 4 ounces the cost is $0.38.

Total cost for a home made meal: $1.51 per meal.

 

Now let’s compare that to a “healthy” McDonald’s or frozen meal.  I’ve picked some of the best offerings as well, so these are the choices that are the most healthy. Pick almost anything else from these lines of food and the calorie count will go up significantly.

Fast and Frozen Foods
Food Item Serving Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Sugar Protein Price
McDonald’s Premium Southwest
Grilled Chicken Salad
12.3oz 320 9g 30g 6g 11g 30g ~$
McDonald’s Grilled Chicken Classic –
Sandwich Only
8oz 420 10g 51g 3g 11g 32g ~$
Marie Callender’s Complete Dinner –
grilled chicken breast, mashed
potatoes, gravy, & vegetables
–  450 17g 39g  4g  5g  33g  $2.50-$4.00
Healthy Choice Frozen Meal – grilled
chicken breast, BBQ sauce, broccoli,
red skin potatoes and caramel 
apple crisp 
10.5oz 270 3g 43g 7g 19g 15g $2.50-$4.00

 

 
Meals for a week

Meals for a week

Notice that even with the frozen meals, where the calories aren’t too high, you get less ounces of food and a trade-off: either lots of fat or lots of sugar, and you’ve paid more for it than when making your own meal! With the meal we constructed you have low fat, low sugar, good fiber content, and lots of protein.

The ‘Meals for a Week’ photo shows our refrigerater once most of the work is done. We have szechuan green beans, broccoli florets, sweet potatoes, steak, chicken breast, and stir fry – enough for about 3 days of meals. A few extra servings of chicken and you have a week’s worth of food. It’s cheap, ready-to-go, and you can even mix-and-match.

Mix it up further with variations. Make chicken cordon bleu or pork chops for the main meal.  Add spinach or asparagus for additional veggie choices. The options are endless, limited only by your imagination and taste buds.

So give it a shot. Start your week with a plan: healthy food ready to go. You’ll actually save both time and money, and you’ll feel better too!


Stats came from these sites:
Grilled Chicken Breast
Broccoli Florets
Sweet Potato
McDonald’s
Marie Callender’s Grilled Chicken Breast Dinner
Healthy Choice Grilled Chicken BBQ
 

Muscle & Fitness magazine has a great chicken cordon bleu recipe here:
http://www.muscleandfitness.com/nutrition/122

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