5 Tips on How to Meal Plan Healthy Food with Molly Molofsky

Molly Molofsky, a certified nutritionist and personal chef (who also happens to be from Sonoma), is bringing you 5 tips on how to meal plan healthy food! Meal planning is a great way to ensure that you have healthy food accessible and ready to go at all times so that it is actually easier to eat healthy than eat junk food. Molly studied holistic nutrition at Bauman College and her recipes have been featured in Athleta, The Body Book, The Chalkboard and PopSugar! She is an expert at all things health and wellness related when it comes to nutrition, so without further ado, here are your five tips from Molly.

molly molofsky personal chef healthy nutrition

Are your New Year's resolutions to step up your health already a little blurred?

You’re not alone if you’re feeling the motivation that came with first weeks of January start to wear off.

But often, it’s not lack of motivation that will deter you from your healthy habits. It’s the lack of the right tools and support.

Good news: there’s one tool that only takes 15 minutes per week and can keep your healthy eating game on point all year long.

Meal planning.

And we don’t mean the “meal prep” that makes you think of 15 identical tupperwares filled with diet food. Or planning out your entire months of food in one sitting. There isn’t a right or wrong way to meal plan. It doesn’t have to mean a diet scheme or an unbendable set of rules. Rather, it’s a sustainable tool to help design a lasting healthy lifestyle for you.


Here’s 5 steps to use meal planning to help you stay on track in only 15 minutes per week:

Step 1: Write it down.

Use an online meal planner (I love mealplannerpro or pepperplate) to mix and match recipes from week to week. That way you don’t waste time racking your brain of what to make every week. The dishes you’ve made in the past are all right there in front of you. You could also use a Google Doc or Evernote to record your meals and grocery lists. Even an old notebook or day planner works great. The point is, taking the couple minutes to jot down your meals and grocery lists for the week will save you so much time and brain power when you’re exhausted after work and trying to think of what to make.

Step 2: Use your calendar.

When making your meal plan, look at your work/social calendars at the same time. Take into consideration days you have plans or might get home late from work - maybe that’s a good day for the quick 1 skillet meal, or crock pot recipe. Plus, you’ll reduce waste by only planning meals and getting groceries for nights you’re home. Nothing is worse than stocking your fridge with healthy food you love and forgetting you have 3 nights of dinner plans that week.

Step 3: Consider your goals.

Before you set off to the store with your list, consider your goals. Take a step back and make sure the meals you have planned are in line with those intentions you set in January. For example, are you trying to eat more vegetables and less meat? Swap your tuesday taco night for a black bean version. Looking to cut back on pasta? Keep wednesday's marinara but serve it over zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash instead. The beauty of taking this time to plan your meals is that your giving yourself the opportunity to make mindful choices.

Step 4: Add a to-do section.

When thinking about what meals you’ll be making, also think about what prep needs to be done to make the meal. Do those beans have to be soaked? Does a whole chicken need to roast for 3 hours? Does a piece of meat need to marinate? We suggest tackling all the prep you can in one big batch cook day. For example, every sunday you can do all the prep for your recipes for the week. You can cook the grains, make a marinade, or cook your proteins. If that doesn’t work for you and your lifestyle, don’t worry - you’re not doing it wrong. You just need to make sure all your recipes can be made in the amount of time you’ll realistically want to spend in the kitchen on weeknights. Having a to list for recipes that have multiple steps takes the stress out of weeknight cooking.

Step 5: Stay inspired:

If you need inspiration on what to make - look in your pantry. Do you have a bag of lentils or jar of marinara that’s been on  the shelf for weeks? Maybe you can look up a recipe to use them up. Not only will the help you think of what to make, it will save on that grocery bill!

While it is definitely useful to repeat meals, don’t forget to have a little fun with this. Use the seasons to try new vegetables. Leave 1 night per week to try a new recipe. Meal plan with a friend or family member who cooks and eats like you to exchange recipe ideas. Keep this weekly task enjoyable and your much more likely to stick to it long terms.

That’s it! Now, it’s your turn to get to action.

Follow the 5 steps above to create a healthy meal plan this week.

Looking for more helpful meal planning and healthy cooking tips? Check out Molly’s online course, The Home Chef Project, planned to launch in early Spring 2018.

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Staying Healthy: 5 Staple Items to Always Have in the Pantry

Sometimes the difference between eating healthy food and eating junk food comes down to what is in front of you, so we are bringing you 5 staple items to always have in the pantry to help you stay healthy. It may seem simple, but really- you won't eat junk food if it isn't available to you! Having easy, convenient healthy foods that are accessible at home whenever you need them is one of the best steps you can take toward living a healthier lifestyle all the time! Here are our top 5 items to have on hand in your house.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a bit of an acquired taste, but has so many amazing health benefits. It is known to regulate blood sugar levels, enhance weight loss, lower cholesterol, improve skin health, and boost gut health, to name a few! Some people like to take a shot of it each morning, but our preference is to mix it with hot water and honey and drink it like tea! The water and honey calm down the vinegar flavor and you still receive all the health benefits with this method.

2. Different Types of Cooking Oil

olive oil avocado oil walnut oil

There are a million options in the grocery store when it comes to different types of cooking oils- avocado oil, olive oil, walnut oil, ghee... And we think you need them all! Or at least a few of them. You might be wondering why it is important to have several different types of oils in your pantry to cook with. Well, when an oil gets too hot, or reaches it's "smoking point", the fats in the oil begin to break down. This causes the oil to smoke, releasing toxic fumes and free radicals that are harmful to your body, turning your "healthy" olive oil into an extremely unhealthy option. This is why it is important to cook with different oils for different temperatures, and be very conscious of how much heat you expose them to. Here is a great guide to what oil you should use at what temperature.

3. Healthy Grains and Seeds: Rolled Oats, Quinoa, Chia Seeds, and Hemp Seeds

chia seeds green smoothie

Healthy grains and seeds can make it easy to add nutritional value to any meal. Rolled oats, for instance, can be made into easy overnight oats or thrown into a fruit smoothie for some extra fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Quinoa is one of the most protein rich foods you can eat and contains almost twice as much fiber as most other grains! It is a great substitute for rice and can be made as a side dish or put on top of a salad. Chia seeds are also a great source of nutrients and antioxidants. They're full of healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, and can be made into chia pudding or sprinkled on top of a smoothie for breakfast! Finally, hemp seed  are rich in healthy fats and essential fatty acids. They are a great source of protein and contain high levels of vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. Add these to a salad or smoothie for an extra punch of nutritional value!

4. Nut Butter: Peanut, Almond or Cashew?

healthy nut butter peanut cashew almond

Nut butters (think peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter) contain important nutrients like protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Though they are a high source of nutrients, they are also quite high in calories so the only caveat here is to use them in moderation. Now with so many different variations on nut butters it can be hard to choose just one, so look for the kinds with zero added sugar and only two main ingredients: nuts and salt. You can also try your hand at making your own, if you're up for it!

5. Dried Beans and Lentils

healthy lentils beans

Dried beans and lentils are an inexpensive and healthy alternative to processed, canned items that are often full of sodium! They are rich in micro-nutrients including potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Beans and Lentils are a great source of protein, especially in a plant based diet. Lentils in particular have been known to lower cholesterol, improve heart and digestive health, and increase energy. They also aide in weight loss so toss them on top of a salad or turn them into a cozy soup depending on the time of year!

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