The key to anything successful is a plan. Some great things happen by chance and some people are just lucky like that, but most successful ventures involve a well thought out plan. Josh is currently on a cut so I have to plan out our meals in order for him to be successful. I scroll through my Instagram and check the macros on previous meals to see if they will work or not. Not all people have to plan this in-depth. Some just need to plan meals ahead of time so they don’t pick up fast food or overspend at the grocery store. It all depends on your goals.
For us, I plan for what works with our macros even when Josh is not on a cut. We count macros all year, well not as strictly during the holidays, so I try to plan meals that will not rock our macros. I want to keep a good balance between our weekday eating and any going out we might do on the weekends. Date nights are few and far between, but family pizza nights are frequent. We like to eat at least two snacks a day, so I have to account for those as well. I do not like to eat just three meals a day, I prefer to have a constant flow of food, so snacks are key for me.
If I fail to plan out our food during the week, then our macros would not average out over the week and we would be gaining weight like crazy with the weekend pizza trips. All the food planning and macro counting fall on me so if I do not plan accordingly I will have a hangry husband when he can’t have his night snack or has to eat little to nothing for supper. This has happened before and it is not pleasant. He takes his cut seriously, as he should, and I do not want to be the reason why he is not successful.
It feels like a lifetime ago when I could pick up food to cook for that night according to what I was craving. I have been doing week-long grocery hauls forever, because I am too lazy and eager to get home when I get off work to go to the grocery store daily. I plan out my food by looking at the macros of past meals, the sale paper of course, and the weather. Cooking used to be very enjoyable for me, a glass of wine, music playing…now it is like a race to see how fast I can get everything done.
Maybe I will get back to enjoying cooking when the kids are older, but right now I plan because enjoyable cooking during the week is laughable and meal prep is a workout when it is crammed in before church. With my plan in place and meal prepping game strong, dinner on the table by 6:00, more like 6:15, is not so stressful and it keeps my midsection in check. Click on the meal planner image, save it, and print it out to help you plan your meals out!
M E N U
Butternut Squash Soup + Chicken Breast
This is a taco casserole, but I am going to track the meat, cheese, and rice separately to get the most accurate count on my macros. To do this I am going to cook the rice on its own and leave the chicken whole on top of the dish to easily pick it out of the casserole. If you are using ground meat, then keep it out of the casserole entirely if you are wanting the most accurate count. The rice and meat can be added separately to each person’s dish depending on their macro needs. This could even be thrown in a tortilla if you are eating a low carbohydrate meal.
The recipe also does not want you to strain your meat before adding in the vegetables, but I am going to cook the meat, strain it, weigh it, then add in the vegetables. I am going to do this so I can get an accurate weight on my meat, rather than straining after I add in the vegetables. You might want to strain a second time once the vegetables are cooked to get out the excess water from the vegetables.
If you are adding rice to the mixture while it cooks in the oven, you will need to add the broth. If you are going to add rice to each serving after it has cooked, then you will not need the broth. The vegetables and tomatoes will prevent the meat and veggies from drying out. If there doesn’t seem to be enough liquid to your liking, add in 1/2 to 1 cup of broth. You don’t want it to be soupy, but don’t want it to dry out either.
Remember that the changes I make are not only for macros but also to ensure that I have at least 4 servings for two very hungry adults, plus some extra for the kids. We eat these meals for lunch and supper. Leftovers are great for tracking macros since you already know what the macros are!
*Changes I make to meet my macros
Ingredients: 1 lb. ground beef *20 ounces ground meat or chopped chicken breast ½ medium onion, diced *1 onion 1 small bell pepper, diced *4-5 ounces 2 small zucchini, diced *3 squash or zucchini 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 2 Tbsp. homemade taco seasoning (or store-bought) 1 (14-oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste 2 ¾ cups beef broth *beef or chicken depending on meat used and if adding rice ½ cup frozen corn *80 grams sweet corn 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice *cooked separately 1 ½ cups (6 ounces) shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, divided *20-30 grams fiesta cheese per serving Optional toppings: Salsa, diced avocado
I have a lot of favorites, but honestly, THIS is on the very tip-top of my list for salad favorites. It is the most amazing flavor and you can go as light or heavy on the sweet potatoes as you want. I go easy on the butter and make sure to pick a lean cut of steak so I can have more potatoes. If you like a high-fat meal, go crazy with the butter and steak, but keep the potatoes to a minimum.
Josh loves to challenge my macro cooking abilities and boy did I deliver. I made several changes and left a few things off, intentionally and unintentionally. I skipped the avocado because I did not want it to be too much on the fat side. I had plenty of fat leftover at the end of the night for a snack, so it was a good choice. I used reduced-fat blue cheese and sirloin steak to keep the fat at bay as well. The recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of butter, but I used 1.5 tablespoons for 4 servings and it was plenty for us.
To track this I weighed out the steak amount first and then put on the butter-cheese mixture. The size of the steak does not matter as long as you input it separately into your macro count, but the serving size of the butter-cheese mix needs to be the same for every salad.
*Changes I make to meet my macros
Ingredients: 3 small-medium sweet potatoes, cut into matchsticks *2-3 ounces cooked potato per serving 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil *spray olive oil 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder kosher salt and fresh black pepper 1 (8-10 ounce) ribeye steak or 1 1/2 pound flank steak *sirloin steak 6 cups shredded romaine lettuce 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved *10-12 per serving 1 avocado, sliced *0.5-0.8 ounces per serving 4 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature *1-2 tablespoons 3-4 ounces gorgonzola or blue cheese, crumbled *40-50 grams reduced fat blue cheese 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil *1 lemon juiced 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 2 teaspoon honey *0.5 ounce 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard *1 tablespoon 1 small shallot, finely diced 2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
This recipe is pretty identical to the 20-minute shrimp tacos I have made, which are delicious. If you haven’t made them yet and you have some shrimp on hand, run and go make them now! Seriously, one of my favorite salsas yet. The shrimp version had more ingredients in the salsa, but I like that this recipe is a bit more simple. This is my go-to bowl when I want to use pulled pork in a taco or rice bowl.
The only thing to really track in the salsa is the pineapple and tomatillos. The tomatillos are awesome roasted with the other ingredients. If you can’t find tomatillos, you can use a jar of premade Verde. Add the Verde, garlic, jalapeno, and spices to a mixer pulse together until blended well.
These fajitas always turn into rice bowls for me instead of tacos. I love this salsa so much and the macros are so great that I can have a lot of it. If you are going low carbohydrate, then skip the rice and just eat in the tortilla or alone. Some fresh cilantro, lime, and maybe avocado to top it off and you are set!
I interchange pork and chicken breast in this recipe often. Since I am making pork sandwiches this week, I will have extra pork on hand. Pork is probably my favorite way to eat this bowl, so I am really looking forward to this meal.
*Changes I make to fit my macros
Ingredients: 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips *chicken breast or pulled pork 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil *Spray with oil 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder 2 teaspoons smoked paprika 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder kosher salt and black pepper 2 bell peppers, sliced 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced 6-8 small flour tortillas, warmed *High fiber/Low carb tortilla or rice crumbled cotija or shredded cheddar cheese mashed avocado and limes *Omit cheese OR avocado ROASTED PINEAPPLE SALSA VERDE: 6 small tomatillos, husked *verde if you can’t find tomatillos 1 jalapeño 4 green onions juice of 1 lime 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped 1-2 cup diced pineapple *1/4 -1/3rd cup per serving
Pork and tacos go hand-in-hand in my household. If we buy a pork butt, chances are we will be making a bowl or taco or both. I never get tired of pork tacos or just your basic BBQ sandwich.
These tacos are good, meal prep friendly, macro-friendly, and easy. If you are not into meal prepping, you can at least chop up the vegetables prior to cooking, to save yourself time. Roasting the vegetables in the oven versus cooking them on the stovetop is another good option. I like to season my peppers and onions with cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. If you want to add a little extra heat to the dish, sautee a jalapeno with the vegetables. The salsa verde is often very mild and requires some hot sauce.
I cook the meat in the crockpot for 8 hours on low. To season, I evenly coat all sides with yellow mustard then season with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and paprika. I pour in a little apple cider vinegar to the crockpot so the pork has some extra juice to mix with. Once the meat is cooked thoroughly, let it cool and then separate the meat from the fat.
Side note: Make sure you weigh out the meat before adding your Verde. It is a good idea to make sure you have enough meat for both meals, so you don’t end up short for lunch on your last meal with pork.
Sautee your vegetables or roast them in the oven while you get the Verde together. If you are making your own Verde, you can roast the vegetables and tomatillos at the same time.
Once you have your meat weighed out, cover the meat with salsa verde, you can make your own if you have time or buy a jar already made, let the meat simmer. I always make sure I get the high fiber, low carbohydrate tortillas so I don’t overdo it on the carbohydrates. Fill your tortilla with the sauteed vegetables, meat, and favorite hot sauce.
*Changes I make to meet my macros.
Ingredients: 1 Boston Butt 2 Green Bell Peppers 1 Red Bell Pepper 1 Yellow Onion 1 jar Salsa Verde or make your own 1 Jalapeno - optional Olive Oil Spray Spices for Pork Butt: Cumin Paprika Salt Pepper Yellow Mustard Onion Powder Chili Powder Garlic Powder Top with hot sauce
Butternut Squash Soup + Chicken Breast
If you have never made butternut squash soup, just trust me. It is so good.
This soup is such a great fall/winter dish. It really can be the main dish, but just doesn’t meet our protein needs. It says to use goat cheese and that is a great addition, but it doesn’t need it really. There is enough fat in this dish with the bacon for us. I like to add the broth while I blend it to adjust the thickness. I like this soup to be thick, not thin and really soupy.
The last time I made this, per serving it had 285 calories, 14.6 grams of protein, 31.2 grams of carbs, and 9.7 grams of fat.
This soup is a labor of love, but it is so good. The bacon is a MUST so don’t skip it. When you are weighing out your bacon, weigh the bacon that goes into the dish raw. Then weigh the bacon you use as a topping AFTER it has cooked.
*Changes I make to meet my macros
Ingredients: 1 butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut in 1-inch chunks *1-2 depending on size 1 onion, diced 1 red bell pepper, chopped 4 slices bacon, diced *3 ounces raw 2 tablespoons olive oil *omit 2 cloves garlic, minced Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste FOR THE SOUP 4 slices bacon, diced *0.5-1 ounces cooked bacon per serving 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 2 1/2 cups chicken stock, or more, to taste 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese *can omit if wanting a low fat/calorie dish 2 tablespoons chopped chives