Project 2018 Prep: Getting the Kitchen Ready for Healthy Meal Prep

On New Year’s Eve, we party. On New Year’s Day, we strip the house of all things Christmas and get “back to normal,” whatever that is. Like always, I was sad to see the sudden emptiness where just hours before had been sparkling lights. Christmas is such a gradual build of excitement, then it’s here with a frenzied pace of things to do, and before you know it, you’re finding crumbled balls of wrapping paper under the furniture and throwing away leftover, drying up veggie platters. The house is quiet of Christmas carols and the calendar empties as everyone gets back to whatever their version of normal is.

It’s kind of depressing, but January also brings a lot of good: two kids’ birthdays, cool work opps and a refreshing of goals and plans you couldn’t get to during the holiday rush. What was a boring month as a kid is a really exciting month as an adult.

After I put away all the Christmas stuff, I got to work on Project 2018 healthy meal prep. I pride myself on being organized and neat but I had to face the realization that my food shelves were so overstocked and so crowded that I didn’t even know what was in the back of it. I grabbed a bottle of water and dove in. It was a pretty embarrassing experience, but two hours later, the house was free of anything expired, gross or just unappealing.

I started with the actual pantry. It’s pretty big and the shelves are deep. It’s organized into cans, grains, pastas, condiments, cereals, chips, etc. I thought I was on top of it but wow, I found a bottle of vinegar that had expired in 2015. (Who knew vinegar expired??) Two trash bags full of stuff and the pantry now has space for us to actually get to what we need and more importantly, know what we have and what we need to buy.

Then I tackled the refrigerator. All the condiments, the produce and deli drawers and the random containers scattered on the shelves. We actually have a full-size fridge and freezer in the garage, too, so I went through those. Just when I thought I was done, I realized we had some overflow on the kitchen racks in the garage, where I store odd-sized and shaped appliances, canning supplies and equipment. Another ten minutes of cleaning and bam, it’s all done.

Now we know what we have, we’re stocked on what we need and it’s all safe to eat. This left us some space for those new healthier food purchases, so I then moved on to the list of things I needed to keep on hand. Coconut oil, ghee, non-expired balsamic vinegar, Sriracha and more.

After making sure the food was ready, I moved on to ensuring I had the right supplies for a healthier approach to eating. I’m following a macro diet type of plan, using a plan that my health coach daughter wrote up. It totally suits me – I can eat what I can mostly, I just have to make sure I stick to my numbers. If I want a glass of wine, I can have it. I just maintain my numbers by cutting back somewhere else. No foods are really off-limits and I have the freedom to still enjoy things at foodie events or parties. Perfect!

To make healthy meal prep easier, I invested in a set of meal planning storage containers, a thin digital scale and a pad of Meal Plan pages so I can organize our meals more easily. The husband is doing it with me, and he’s wonderful about helping in the kitchen — or taking over cooking completely if need be — so this helps us stay on-target. I shop using this list and no more scrambling at 6pm (or later..don’t judge) trying to decide what we’re going to cook now that we’re starving and ready to eat anything. (That’s one of the worst things for a diet: desperation. You give up and eat anything because hunger has taken over.)

If you’re interested in seeing what I bought, look at my affiliate Amazon store. I spent less than $30 on all three of the above things TOTAL. Here are the three things I mentioned specifically. (If you buy one of them, I may make a little bit of money, so thank you!)

If there’s something that you know you can’t resist, might be a good idea to toss it out or give it away. I’ve known people to say “Starting the diet tomorrow, so tonight we feast.” Eh. I can’t go through an entire bag of gummy bears just to get them gone, my teeth ache even thinking about it. Not really the best way to start your healthier choices by making an epically bad one…no matter how tempting!

While I was doing all this, I neatened things up in the kitchen…and then I got sucked into my closet when I went to put away laundry. “If my pantry is all neat, why not my clothes?” Seriously, I wish I’d done it all separately but maybe the whirlwind was good. I put a pile of “maybe these will fit me someday” items into a donation pile; there weren’t many things, as I’d just cleaned out the closet early summer, but it felt so good. Now if it’s hanging in the closet, it fits me. My weight gain hasn’t been enough to where things really stopped fitting me; some things just weren’t flattering or comfortable. (I did have to buy some new jeans though, to be totally transparent.) No more staring at them as a reminder because to me, it’s not motivating. Some people hang up a dress that they want to fit into but I’d rather just see the clothes I AM wearing fit better. (And a scale? It’s up there in my room but it’s in a cabinet. I’m not even stepping onto it for a while.)

So far, Project 2018 is going pretty good. I’m running four days a week — and I mean really running, because I really want the cardio and walking just doesn’t make my heart rate go up enough — and eating has been easier than I thought. Turns out, I don’t eat enough. Who knew? I used to rarely eat breakfast, lunch was whatever I had time to make and dinner was frequently dinner out because I didn’t have time to cook. With organization, I’m finding I have time to cook now, especially since I’m looking at easier meals with more natural flavor.

The other things on my Project 2018 list are going good, too. I had another new potential client meeting this morning, I got to meet Chris Hemsworth last weekend (a dream come true, no other way to put it) and I’m working on a few replacements for natural cleaning rather than chemicals. It’s easier to feel like natural living is working when I’m already doing it with our food, so it’s a two-in-one! With all these changes, living positively is even easier. Getting rid of the clutter in my life — or the trash — has been so helpful. Remove the Debbie Downers, the petty attention-seekers and even turn off the news. My mood is already lighter….and my time is freed up for those who deserve it more. I’m telling you, when people show you who they are, believe them. We teach people how to treat us; don’t teach them that you will tolerate being treated anything less than with respect, honesty and kindness. Positivity has room to grow when you thin out the things that inspire negativity. Let 2018 be the year that you take the steps you need to live more of the life that you want!

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