Before we get to all that, though, please read my post from yesterday called “Feed The Beast!” for my standard disclaimer. I’ll probably want to create a single page just for that at some point.
Disclaimer read. Now what?
For starters, let me just state that dinner is a fantastic part of my day. That is my chance to be creative with what gets put on the table (that’s especially important since I have two kids who can be kind of picky sometimes). I make that distinction about dinner, because, at least for me, breakfast, lunch and snacks are just things I know I have to do in order to “feed the beast” throughout the day.
As I stated yesterday, I really just like to keep things simple. For me, it reduces the guess work and ensures I’m on track with my nutrition and fitness goals. There are days when a lunch outing is unavoidable or even called for. In those cases, I’ll typically just order the leanest form of protein they offer and substitute veggies for whatever starch usually comes with the meal whenever possible. When it’s not possible, I just go easy on whatever is put before me and anticipate a lighter dinner.
Meals! You promised meals, Aj…
Right. Enough rambling on already. Below are meals and snacks that make up most of what I eat Monday through Friday. Calories are tricky, because we all need different amounts. Just keep in mind that the amounts below work for me at about 180-185lbs, 5’10” (and-a-half), and a mostly sedentary desk job but with 1 to 2 hours each day of high-intensity training. Find out how many calories you need to sustain, gain or lose weight and go from there (again…I left a link to a calorie calculator in “Feed The Beast!“)
Here’s a list of my favorite meals:
~ THE BREAKFAST MENU ~
PB&B Sandwich: A great source of long-lasting energy, this meal is great on-the-go. Just be careful not to drip peanut butter on your business suit (unless your suit is brown).
– 1 slice of whole wheat bread
– 1 Tbs all natural, crunchy peanut butter (that kind your grandma used to keep that had to be stirred and kind of grossed you out to look at it)
– 1/4 cup (about a handful) fresh blueberries
Directions: Spread the PB, place the BBs, fold in half, and eat. Too easy!
Yogurt and Fresh Fruit: It’s as simple and basic as it sounds. ½ cup of low fat/fat free plain yogurt, and ¼ cup of fresh blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or peaches. If I think I may need some grain energy for an especially tough workout planned for later in the day, I might throw in some Ezekiel cereal (1/2 cup).
No-Rice Salmon Rolls: Another super easy meal that is quick to put together and great to take on the run. The fats (omega source) trigger your “satiety lever” to make you feel fuller longer.
– 1 palm-sized portion of thinly sliced, smoked salmon
– 1 Tbs low fat or fat free cream cheese
– ½ cup fresh baby spinach leaves
Directions: Lay out the salmon slice, spread on the cream cheese, layer the spinach leaves on top, roll it all up, slice into quarter sections, and enjoy!
Spinach Omelet: All told, this takes about 5-10 minutes to prepare. It will also make you feel full for at least a couple hours. Great energy source! Spice it up with Egg Beaters Southwestern Style or splash some hot sauce over them (my favorite: Frank’s Red Hot).
– 1 serving egg beaters (check label) *
– 1 or 2 cups fresh baby spinach
– Black pepper (to taste)
* If I decide to go with real eggs, I’ll use two: 1 whole, 1 egg white.
Directions: Using Pam or olive oil, stir fry the spinach over medium heat until wilted (you’ll be surprised at how small 2 cups of fresh leaves look after cooking for a couple minutes), pour in a serving of Egg Beaters, cook over medium-low heat until eggs ate fully cooked, and dig in.
PBB Jet Fuel: This is a lower carb option that really packs a punch in the gym. I first heard of this about a year ago when listening to Craig Ballantyne’s podcast, “Turbulence Training,” available on iTunes here. I absolutely love this one; especially as a pre-workout meal! I add the blueberries after microwaving, because I don’t like hot, mushy blueberries. Personal preference. Oh…and I made up that name myself (sorry, Craig).
– 1 or 2 Tbs all natural, crunchy peanut butter
– 1/4 cup fresh blueberries
Directions: Warm up the PB in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds, throw in the BBs, mix and enjoy!
~ THE LUNCH MENU ~
Salad: Salads make up most of my weekday lunches. Their easy to throw together before work, packed with good nutrition, and don’t leave me in a mid-day coma. The fiber from the greens fills me up, helps me digest all the protein I need to recover from working out, and keeps me feeling full longer, I don’t tend to “graze” while waiting for dinner to be ready.
– 2 or 3 cups fresh greens (have as much of this as you want—just avoid iceberg)
– 1/4 cup chopped/sliced bell pepper (try a variety of colors to keep things interesting)
– 1/4 cup chopped celery
– 1-2 tsp ground (or whole) flaxseed
– 1.5 Tbs olive oil
– 1 or 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar (or other favored vinegar)
– 1 palm-sized portion of lean meat (skinless grilled chicken, steak, tuna, salmon, or…in a pinch…sliced deli meats)
Directions: Self explanatory…I think.
Leftovers: That’s right. If it was good enough for an evening meal, it’s good enough for an afternoon meal. Just make it a lunch portion (roughly half of your dinner portion), and leave any heavy carbs/starches at home (probably don’t want those at dinner, either–especially if you’re watching your weight). Bring a salad along, too, but make it a simple, no-protein salad.
~ THE DINNER MENU ~
Protein & Veggies: Lean cuts, marinated or otherwise, broiled to perfection, or grilled on my Foreman. Go for green veggies (steamed) more often than not, and include a small, no-protein salad in if desired.
– 4 to 6 oz lean steak (palm-sized portion, but depends on thickness of cut)
– 1 whole, skinless chicken or turkey breast
– 1 skinless chicken quarter (my favorite is broiled)
– Beef brisket (palm-sized portion) *
– Pulled pork (palm-sized portion) *
– Whole chicken (palm-sized portion) *
* I normally cook these options in the slow-cooker while I’m at work. By the time I get home, the house smells awesome and the meat is juicy, tender and ready-to-eat!
~ THE “SNACK” MENU ~
This is the easiest one. Try to mix it up so you don’t just have veggies, nuts, fruits or yogurt in a given day. Here are some options. Each option = 1 snack (i.e. meal):
– 1 cup low-fat/no-fat yogurt
– 1 cup raw carrots and 1 cup raw celery
– 1 cup fresh berries and 1 handful no-salt/low-salt nut mix
– 1 small apple, peach, pear, plumb, orange, etc.
Wow. That pretty much takes care of your focus this week, doesn’t it?
I suppose that does cover a lot of what I said I’d discuss this week. To keep on track, though, tomorrow’s post will provide full disclosure on what I actually eat, when I eat, and what I do in the gym/on the trails to use up those calories (energy).
My job keeps me pretty still throughout the day, but your job may involve a lot more moving around and exertion. Keep all that and your fitness goals in mind as you plan your daily menu and (more importantly) your portions. There are a lot of resources out there for determining the calorie count of thousands of popular foods. If you keep your standard weekly menu as simple as I keep mine, you will probably only need to measure something out two or three times before you can pretty much eyeball your portions from then on out.
If you have power meals you’d like to share here, please do! I listen to what other fit and healthy people talk about when it comes to nutrition and exercise. Their experiences have value, and I appreciate that.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net–