Cooking once a week

20131025-221540.jpg Change is sometimes hard. Moving is considered top 10 most difficult life changes for a person. Sometimes I laugh at myself because I tend to throw myself into new things, but forget I’m really not in love with huge amounts of change. Sometimes I’m not sure what came over me to pack my bags and move to a new country, but 6 months ago I did…and I moved to Canada for a new job. So far the job has been awesome…but I still am not doing amazing with the change. Between March and May after I moved…I gained 10 pounds. At first I wasn’t really that concerned about it as I figured once I got settled into my routine, things would be fine and the weight would come off. Then one day I realized I was 3 months out from IGSF worlds in October (Greece) and I was NOT going to make my weight category if something didn’t change…fast.

One thing I know about myself…I don’t lose weight very quickly. Even if I do everything ‘right’…I generally can’t get over 1lb/ week of weightloss. So when I was 3 months out from compeition and about 10lbs too heavy…I got very strict with everything I ate and did for exercise….and I did lose the weight and made weight just fine, but it makes me reflect on the whole thing and try to understand what happened in the first place so I don’t repeat myself. Because let’s face it…needing to lose weight really sucks.


The first two weeks after I had moved to Vancouver, I was living in a hotel…so I came up with many  excuses of not having an easy way to cook and have a home cooked meal.

But when I moved into my place…I just…didn’t want to. The reality is I hate cooking. It’s not that I don’t know HOW to cook…I was sent through 4-H for a good solid 6 years as a child, so I know to follow a recipe, I just don’t *like* to have to cook. Having a few degrees in Chemistry (which is sorta akin to cooking) you would think it’s an innate talent or something. Maybe that’s why my life in the lab was such a disaster in grad school.

But the biggest thing I have discovered on my weight loss journey and how to maintain my weight is that one of the KEY elements for my success is preparation. And part that is really vital is preparing lunch for the next day and preparing food for the week. (I also save more money this way too).

The reality of gaining those 10lbs was partly emotional eating…new place, new job, I became a stress case and stress eating is one of the biggest thing I have had to tame to keep my weight lower. But mostly it was because I wasn’t taking care of myself and preparing my food like I normally do. With the move, everything felt like MORE of a chore than it normally does. One of the things I learned early on in PN is you have to prepare for the week. Planning and pre-cooking is vital for success. For me I discovered that cooking 1x a week was a key element that helped me lose 20lbs. In the PN binder they give you ideas on how to do the 1x a week cook-up…but I’ve been trying to work out a way of how to express the ‘how to’s’ of it. So…I’m going to try to have a section on this blog on ‘once a week cooking’.

HOW to do it…the first few steps.

Step 1) Try to figure out how many meals you *need* to make. I live alone and take my lunch to work…and I’m pretty low-key on eating left overs. What I basically try to do is cook the bulk of the protein of my meals on the weekend and then will add 2-4 servings of steamed veggies for a meal or if my meal is post workout I’ll add in a starchy carb with the veggies. But I plan out the proteins I’m going to have (usually you want something that can be versicle…one day salad wraps, one day salad topper, one day dress it up differently) for the week.

Step 2) Typically I make 3-4 recipes of main dishes.

Step 3) Find recipes: Generally one for the crockpot, one for the oven and one for the top of the stove.

Step 4) Identify all recipes, put them into Evernote (best application EVER!).

Step 5) Create a shopping list on Evernote (love the little check off ability you can create in lists).

Step 6) Move things around on shopping list so that they resemble where in the store you will find things so that you don’t run around as you go through your list.

Step 7) Prior to going to the store, check to see what you already have on the list at home and check that off.

Step 8) Go to store and use cool shopping list you made on Evernote.

Step 9) Clean kitchen, make sure all pots and pans are clean, make sure dishwasher is clean and unloaded, pull all the ingredients out and place them all together in little areas on your counter top.

Generally this is MY GOAL: get things assembled and into the stove/crockpot and have any stoeve top cooking finished in less than 2 hours of prep time. This also includes chopping up veggies to go with my snacks during the week and getting the veggies chopped and prepped for salads for lunches for the week.

I’m going to cook tomorrow so I’m not going to pull everything out at the moment, but I did pull out the spices and got the kitchen cleaned up and ‘ready’ for tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be a little different than usual as I am making two crock pot recipes so the overall goal is that my total prep time will only be a total of two hours divided over the day. I will be timing myself.

Here are the recipes I am making tomorrow (Fair warning, this series of recipes calls for a lot of different spices. So if you don’t have a big spice rack…it could be an expensive shopping trip!)

Since I am planning to move my workouts next week to the mornings, my breakfast meal needs to have some starchy carbs in them since it will be post workout:

So for breakkie: Sweet Potato, Egg and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

For my proteins for lunch or dinner:
My afternoon snack for the week (with some veggies to chomp on also):
Tomorrow I will discuss how to think about doing all of this at once. It takes a little planning, but it’s totally worth it!

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