Showing posts with label Meal planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Meal planning. Show all posts

Monday, November 28, 2016

Review: Reshape Your Body with Real Food Challenge

Review of the Reshape Your Body with Real Food Challenge - from

You know, as much as I tout the benefits of menu planning, the actual process of doing it bores me to tears.

It is one of my least favourite jobs!

So the past few weeks were an amazing breath of fresh air as I completed the 21 day Reshape Your Body with Real Food Challenge with naturopath Jessica Donovan from Energetic Mama.

I've written before that I've been feeling fat, frumpy and tired this past Winter.  All of this has been due to some health issues I've been having and while I definitely wanted to lose weight, what I really wanted was more energy and to just feel a little better.

I've been on Jess's mailing list for years and wasn't actually going to do this challenge until the 11th hour when she sent an email detailing how her program can help women with thyroid problems, oestrogen dominance and adrenal fatigue.

Umm, that's the exact trifecta I'm dealing with. I signed up on the spot and couldn't wait to get stuck in!

There was a daily email for the 3 weeks covering the menu, shopping, meal prep, mindset, exercise and some naturopathic advice on the specific conditions so many of us are struggling with.

So 3 weeks later, was it worth it?

In a word, YES.

Within the first few days I could see where some bad habits had been sneaking in.

I could see just how often I was reaching for something sweet, that I wasn't having a substantial enough lunch and then snacking before dinner, and that I'd become too reliant on carb-heavy foods like potatoes and brown rice.


1. It is run by a naturopath so you know the nutritional information is sound. Plus Jess is always available to answer any questions in the private Facebook group during the challenge which was great.

2. Jess specialises in treating mums and this program is designed for women with hormonal, adrenal and thyroid issues. Like I said, this is exactly what I need.

3. It got us out of a food rut. Despite eating well, lately we've been busier and tending to make the same things over and over again. The whole family appreciated some different things on the menu and they have been easily adaptable for our gluten and dairy free way of eating.

4. I loved not having to decide what was for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. The menu and shopping list were provided and all I had to do was check the menu and cook. No thought involved!

5. The food was delicious, very fresh, great variety and easy to prepare. Some of the dinners have become new family favourites and I've made them several times since the challenge.


1. The cost of the food. This was something I didn't even consider. We already a eat whole foods/no junk diet but we eat simply, and we buy and cook in bulk. Our food bill essentially doubled for the period of the challenge which was hard for us to absorb. But if you buy processed food and a lot of takeway chances are you would end up saving money.

2. The exercise program was way beyond me. If you already exercise no doubt you would be fine. But coming from a background of chronic fatigue syndrome and no regular exercise for years this was completely, and totally beyond my capabilities.

3. No ongoing access to the exercise videos. While all the menus, shopping lists and exercise planners are downloadable, the exercise videos are not, which is a shame because I would have liked to be able to work up to doing them and track my progress.

My results:
  • 1.4 kg weight loss in 21 days
  • No more bloating
  • 3.5cm off my waist measurement so my jeans are comfy again, and
  • I gained a new repertoire of fresh and delicious meals

They say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and I have to say I have been sticking with this way of eating quite easily.

I'm now not only planning dinners, but breakfasts and lunches as well and finding I don't really need to snack at all. I'm also more tuned into my body and only eating when I'm hungry, rather than when I'm tired or bored. This is huge!

I think this has been the perfect way to get back into healthier eating, especially with Christmas coming.

I'm not sure when Jess will run the challenge again but you can go here to get on the waiting list for next year.

Thanks Jess! It was a great investment and I'm so happy I signed up.

* This is not a sponsored post. I paid for the challenge myself and was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. You should seek medical advice before embarking on a diet and exercise program.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Menu Plan Monday (2nd May)

Happy May everyone! Can you believe it's May already??

This week is a special one for us with our anniversary on Wednesday. My wonderful mother-in-law is coming to look after the boys so we can go out the evening, probably for a quick dinner then a movie.

So we've factored in dinner out for us on Wednesday, then we're out for a BBQ with friends on Saturday night and then on Sunday it's Mother's Day! Should be a fun week :)

What we're eating this fortnight ...

Monday - Roast chicken with sweet potato, pumpkin and beans

Tuesday - Chickpea curry (leftover from freezer)

Wednesday - DATE NIGHT - sausages and wedges for the kids

Thursday - Curried sausages

Friday - Chicken and potato salad (chicken leftover from freezer)

Saturday - OUT

Sunday - Pulled pork with tortillas and coleslaw

Monday - Beef madras with rice and pumpkin mash

Tuesday - DF GF Lasagna (with leftover bolognaise from freezer)

Wednesday - Sweet potato and bacon risotto

Thursday - Slow cooked lamb and veg curry

Friday - DIY

Saturday - Sweet potato hash browns with poached eggs and bacon

Sunday - Leftover curried lamb wraps

What's on the menu for you this week? Leave me a comment with your dinner ideas ... I'm always looking for inspiration!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Menu Plan Monday and my top tips for meal planning

I'm a huge fan of menu planning and it is one of the key reasons we have been able to stick to our food budget as a family of 5 on a single income. We actually plan and shop fortnightly but we have our weekly menu printed and stuck on the fridge.

Not too many years ago we were regular supermarket shoppers who didn't plan meals and didn't budget for food at all. We ended up at the shops at least three times a week and nearly always got to 5 o'clock without a plan for dinner. Since then we have had 3 children, cleaned up our diet and bought a house, so our shopping habits had to change as well.

It has taken a few years but we now buy our pantry staples like flour, oats, nuts, seeds, oils and dried fruit in bulk through a co-op every quarter, we buy most of our meat in bulk direct from the farm and store it in a chest freezer in the garage, we get our fruit and veg from the markets and just get our basics like dairy, pasta, rice etc from the supermarket.

While we would love to buy only organic it is simply not possible financially but we make the best choices we can. Our meals are all quite simple, made from scratch and family friendly. Now that the kids are back at school I also plan for school lunches and after school snacks and try to spend a few hours on a Sunday baking and prepping for the week to save time. There will nearly always be a broth simmering in the slow cooker, some bread baking in the oven and some treats like biscuits or muffins ready to stash in the freezer.

Our dinners for this week are below but in reality I also plan breakfasts, lunches and snacks as well. I find it is a great way to stay organised but also ensures that you are not eating the same things over and over again.

You can download my FREE blank meal planning template here that you can fill in yourself. If you are new to meal planning it can feel very daunting but having a planner ready to go will help. Before you start planning you can also use the template as a food diary to record what you're eating for a week and then use that information to help you plan. 

My Top Tips for Successful Meal Planning

1. Take your time - set aside an hour to write your meal plan for the first time. Gather up your favourite cookbooks and magazines, set yourself up with a notepad or laptop and make yourself a cup of tea.

2. Personalise - first go through your calendar and mark down any functions you have on that week. It could be working late, after school sport, playdates or anything else that will impact on the time you have available to cook. You probably don't want to plan a roast for those nights if you won't be home until dinner time!

3. Cook once, eat twice - this is a big one! I have learned that buying and cooking in bulk makes a huge difference to how smoothly the week runs. For example, if you want to have spaghetti bolognaise one night always do a double batch and freeze half of the prepared sauce straight after dinner to use another night for spaghetti, lasagna or turn it into savoury mince by adding some extra chopped veg and a teaspoon of curry powder (this is brilliant served on toast for a quick dinner).

4. Sunday afternoon prep - think about what can be prepared ahead of time. I always use Sunday afternoons as prep time for the week. I will get a batch of broth or a stew on to bubble away in the slowcooker, roast a chicken and shred the meat ready for 2 meals like risotto or enchiladas and bake some snacks for school lunches and afternoon teas. You can also chop veggies, marinate meat and make meals specifically for work lunches.

5. Stick with what works - if there are some meals your family is guaranteed to eat make sure you include some of them! Maybe try just 1 new recipe per week and if it's successsful add it into your regular rotation. We often don't plan anything at all for a Friday night and it is marked as DIY on the planner. Everyone chooses their own dinner and it could be leftovers, eggs or something from the freezer.

And one extra tip - don't throw away your completed menu plans! Gather all your completed meal plans in one place to refer to next time you sit down to work out your week's meals. They are great reminders when you are stuck for ideas and if you are really strapped for time you can just repeat the whole week!

Our dinners this week are ... 

Monday - Baked chicken drumsticks with mashed potato and greens

Tuesday - Vegie-loaded Spaghetti Bolognaise

Wednesday - Curried sausages with cauliflower rice

Thursday - Chicken and corn risotto

Friday - Homemade fish and chips with salad

Saturday - BBQ with friends

Sunday - Homemade pizza

Do you meal plan? What's for dinner at your place this week?

Linked up to Menu Plan Monday at

Monday, October 5, 2015

Back to school baking

The last 2 weeks have flown by and here we are on the official last day of the holidays. Which means there are only 10 weeks until Oscar has finished grade 1 and Charlie has finished kindy and then it will be Christmas! Wow. So much to do before then though which is why I made a kickstart today with a marathon of baking.

Today I made:
1 x big batch Chocolate Granola
1 x Banana Bread
1 x Grain free Banana Cupcakes
1 x Almond and Chia Protein Bliss Balls
2 x Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I find having a stash like this in the freezer makes life so much easier. I can quickly grab something sweet to pop in lunchboxes for a treat, there is always something for afternoon tea even if we are home late and I can take a snack for myself if I am going to be out and about (saves buying something!).

Only half the banana bread actually made it to the freezer though as it smelt so good while it was baking and the kids needed morning tea so lucky things enjoyed it still warm with lots of butter (delicious!).

Then later I also prepped some savoury meals to help with lunch and dinners. The back to school routine is always a bit of a shock to our systems and I find dinner ends up getting pushed back later and later which then affects bedtime. So I love having dinners either completely prepared ahead of time, in the slow cooker or half-prepped because it just saves so much time.

For lunch today I cooked some chipolata sausages and saved 6 for Oscar's school lunches. My tip is to always separate out the leftovers you want to keep first before you dish up the meal because that way it's there ready to go and doesn't mysteriously get eaten!

Next I made a huge double batch of meatballs using 1 kg of beef mince, a tin of mixed beans and loads of veggies and herbs. Shape them into balls and place on a tray lined with baking paper and then pop them straight into the freezer (seal them in a bag once they are frozen). We will have some for dinner tonight, have leftovers for hubby and the boys lunches tomorrow and then still have another full dinner's worth in the freezer for another night. I like to bake my meatballs as it lets me cook the whole batch at once and saves on the mess.

Anyone else doing some back to school baking? Do you have any tips for make-ahead cooking and baking?

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