Simple Steps to a Healthier Life

A friend says, “Hey, how are you doing?”

“I didn’t sleep well last night, but I’m good.”

Another acquaintance asks, “How have you been?”

You reply with a genuine smile, “Busy, tired, but who isn’t?”

You find memes about coffee and caffeine being your daily fuel to be all to relatable. I mean, they are funny, but it kind of concerns you that your body doesn’t have the energy for your day without a stimulant like caffeine.

Or your body is so sensitive to caffeine that a simple cup of coffee too late in the day will wreck your night of sleep with a panic attack.

This has been the story of my life for the last few years. My 30’s haven’t been very kind to my body. Of course, I haven’t really been all that kind to my body most of my life. I guess turnabout’s fair play, huh? I think I’ve been due for a few simple steps to a healthier life to correct things for a while now.

With my panic attacks and some issues that come around (or not, ha) on a mostly monthly basis, I’ve finally found a regimen of supplements (herbs, vitamins, and minerals) and essential oils that I find extremely helpful, but they haven’t had near the impact that I’ve seen with tweaking my diet and adding more movement to my day. If you are interested in reading about my supplements and oils, let me know in the comments and I will find a way to tell you about them that doesn’t get me in trouble with the powers that be regulating. ūüėČ

Simple (I Promise!) Steps to a Healthier Life - Vicki-Arnold.com

Simple Steps to a Healthier Life

You may have picked up from the above paragraph that my simple steps have to do with food and movement. Before you roll your eyes or feel exasperated because you’ve tried this before, hear me out.

I’ve tried being intentional about exercising daily, I even made it about 6 weeks with this goal last fall. I’ve tried just about everything you can think of for cutting or reducing sugar in my diet because, frankly, I’m a bit addicted. None of these have stuck, but this spring, I think I have found a few simple steps that will stick.

1. Drinking a glass of water before anything else in the morning. I tend to not drink a lot during the day. I had days where I would get to dinner and realize I hadn’t drank any water that day. Not really helpful for my body. This way I have at least 16 oz. of water (one of our drinking glasses) in the morning. I usually take my supplements with this so it’s easy to get it all down.

2. Focus on veggies at lunch. I try to have a salad for lunch each day. As much as a creature of habit I am (I typically have the exact same salad), I also fight routine like nobody’s business so it’s ridiculous how hard this can be some days.

I’m not focused on specific items, just aiming to have vegetables. Previously, I’ve actually had days where I hit dinner and realized I hadn’t had a vegetable all day. Yeah, you can see why simple steps needed to happen for me.

3. Stop striving for perfection. This simple step has probably been the hardest to implement. I tend to be all or nothing and this often leads to a lot of nothing because who really can be “all” perfectly? Not me, that’s for sure.

What this looks like for me is that when I do great a few days in a row and my mind starts making all these grand plans of how I’ll get it right and do it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY from here to eternity, I tell myself to shut up. Well, not exactly, I just stop and take some deep breaths. Then I thank God that I’ve managed to do something right for a short consistent time because I know that isn’t me.

Then, when I miss a day or two, I don’t stress. I simply make a mental note to pick up where I left off or start again right then, depending on what it is. I’m aiming for every day, but realizing that isn’t always going to happen. For a lot of reasons.

4. Prepping vegetables and other items as I can. One of the things that annoys me about vegetables is all the chopping it takes to use them. I don’t have time to chop lettuce, broccoli, onion, shred carrots, etc. everyday for a salad. So I don’t.

I keep a large, covered Pyrex bowl in the refrigerator with cut up lettuce. Then I keep a sandwich size bag each of broccoli bits, chopped red onion, and diced bell peppers in the deli drawer. I buy my carrots pre-shredded. I shred hunks of Tillamook cheese that we get from Costco and keep it in a gallon size bag, also in the deli drawer. I only have to do this once every 4-5 days, depending on who else eats salads.

I used to think that I needed to have a set day to do this in order for it to be an official routine, but I’ve let go of that and just do it when it needs done. That’s routine enough.

5. Front load my day with productivity. This is the step I actually do the worst with, being intentional about getting the productivity wheel going each morning. I am NOT a morning person in the slightest and so it takes me a while to get going in the morning, and no, a cup of coffee doesn’t help this.

My productivity often looks different each day. I have days where I try to get a one mile walk in before breakfast. Some days it is reading my bible and reading an actual book for personal growth. Other days it is specific homeschool group work done before lunch. Some days it is dishes and laundry.

It really doesn’t matter what it is, just something that needs to be done and that doesn’t involve a screen. Screens are a big, time-sucking rabbit trail for me.

6. Whenever possible, exercise before breakfast. For me, this is my one mile walk. It takes me 15-25 minutes, depending on who ends up going with me or if I get to go alone. I have short legs and walking at 3.5 miles per hour is really moving for me (I know this from walking on a treadmill). This walk isn’t meant to do anything other than get me moving early, out in the fresh air, and clear-headed, so I walk at a relatively leisurely pace most of the time.

The point is movement early in the day, not a super sweatfest. If you want a super sweatfest, then have at it. It’s just not me yet.

7. Making breakfast very protein-heavy. This is hands down the simple step that has made the biggest impact for me. Sometime in March, I started focusing on protein for breakfast. Being the creature of habit that likes to think she doesn’t like routine that I am, this is fairly consistent in content, too. Typically it is 3 breakfast sausages (fully cooked, frozen ones from Costco that have no msg, nitrites, or preservatives), 1-2 eggs, and a few berries.

Sometimes I will saut√© some veggies in the pan and then crack my egg over that, just to get more vegetables in my day. This doesn’t happen often because it adds to the time it takes to make my breakfast since I only use one pan for my breakfast because, hello? Dishes.

Previously, I didn’t get much protein in my day either. At this point you may be wondering what the heck I ate and drank since veggies, protein, and water were often lacking from my diet. I’ll give you an example: breakfast would be cereal, oatmeal, or a bagel; lunch would be mac and cheese or pancakes (kids can make these); and then dinner would be some sort of pasta, which would have some veggies or protein usually. Add in there my sweets and snacks of pretzels, crackers, or such and you have a very carb-heavy day of food.

This is why the simple tweaks of a veggie-heavy salad for lunch and a hearty, protein-packed breakfast make a huge difference in how my body feels. And it really is hugely different. On the days I get all seven of these things in, I feel amazing. Like conquer the world amazing. I can definitely use more days like that, how about you?

Last week, after #7 being the only simple step that I had maintained consistently for a month, I realized that my mid-section was significantly less fluffy. My husband noticed it the next day. I haven’t stepped on the scale to see if those numbers have moved and my clothes don’t fit a ton better, but there is a definite improvement in my waist comfort of my pants. It’s enough to keep me headed in this direction.

One of the other results that I have noticed when I implement these simple steps to a healthier life is that I actually don’t crave sugar as much, and there is simply less time for me to eat it so I am naturally eating less sugar. I’ll take it!

If you are looking to make some improvements to improve your overall health and energy, be encouraged that small changes really can make a big difference. While I look forward to a day when all seven of these simple steps feel easy and natural, I am thrilled that even one makes me feel so much better. Give it a shot.

If you are the type who needs more direction, try them in this order – 7, 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6. Keep #3 in mind the whole time and knock them off one at a time. You really can do this, trust me. If I can, you can. Tell me in the comments or shoot me an email and let me know that you started and I will pray for you and root you on!

Simple (I Promise!) Steps to a Healthier Life - Vicki-Arnold.com

Beef and Bean Dip – Frugal Family Dinner

This beef and bean dip is a favorite around here when the weather gets cooler. Fall is making its presence known around here right now and thus, this frugal family dinner has made an appearance on our meal plan a couple times already.

Ok, so part of that is because I needed to make it so I could take photos of it for the blog. And I might have forgot to do that the first time I made it, so I was pretty glad to have the ingredients for another round in the fridge and pantry.

We still love it.

Beef and Bean Dip Recipe - A Frugal Family Dinner

A couple notes for this recipe:

  • I use a 6 quart Lodge dutch oven for this. It makes it a one-pot meal.
  • This recipe makes a LOT of food. We typically have it for dinner (6 of us, half usually have more than 1 serving) and then we will have it for lunch at least one more time. Sometimes I freeze portions of it just so we can have a small amount ready whenever we want it.
  • It freezes well.
  • You can make this vegetarian by leaving out the ground beef. I use 6 cans of beans when I use roughly 1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef. I would increase the beans to 8 or so to make up for leaving out the meat.
  • To make this super frugal, start with dry beans and home canned tomatoes.
  • I was super excited to see that Red Gold tomatoes are Non-GMO Project verified. They are local to my home state and it made me happy to see.
  • The cans of beans I use are from Costco. They are organic and at my local store, cost less than $1/can.

Red Gold petite diced tomatoes - ingredient in beef and bean dip recipe.

Organic beans from Costco - an ingredient in the beef and bean dip recipe from Simply Vicki

Beef and Bean Dip
Print Recipe
This recipe is as frugal as you want it to be, simply adjust the amount of ground beef or even leave it out.
    Prep Time
    10 minutes
    Cook Time
    30 minutes
    Prep Time
    10 minutes
    Cook Time
    30 minutes
    Beef and Bean Dip
    Print Recipe
    This recipe is as frugal as you want it to be, simply adjust the amount of ground beef or even leave it out.
      Prep Time
      10 minutes
      Cook Time
      30 minutes
      Prep Time
      10 minutes
      Cook Time
      30 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: 5-quart pot
      Instructions
      1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, brown the ground beef with the onions. Drain unwanted fat off.
      2. Add in tomatoes, sauces, beans, and spices. Stir. Bring dip to a simmer and let heat through thoroughly.
      3. Scoop into bowls, top with shredded cheese and sour cream. Eat with a spoon or tortilla chips.
      Share this Recipe
       

      Cinnamon Apple Pumpkin Bread Recipe

      This delicious bread combines two fall favorites – apples and pumpkin! One day I asked my husband what he thought about me putting apples in our pumpkin bread instead of raisins. A few recipe tweaks later, I had a new sweet bread recipe that we all loved.

      This bread is a rather moist bread. You will want to let it cool completely before cutting so it won’t simply crumble on you. Once it is cooled and cut, you can warm the individual slices up in a toaster oven and spread some cream cheese on it for a decadent treat.

      Cinnamon Apple Pumpkin Bread Recipe

      Cinnamon Apple Pumpkin Bread Recipe

      For this recipe, you can use either homemade pumpkin puree or store bought. Just make sure you buy pumpkin puree and not the pre-made pumpkin pie mix. They are in similar cans, but you want the straight pumpkin.

      If you have never tried making your own pumpkin puree, you should do it. It is really easy. If you want a tutorial, just let me know in the comments and I will take some photos and put it together.

      But now, the recipe!

      Cinnamon Apple Pumpkin Bread Recipe

      You may also be interested in:

      Cinnamon Apple Pumpkin Bread
      Print Recipe
      Two fall favorites in this sweet bread is delicious times two!
        Servings Prep Time
        2 loaves 10 minutes
        Cook Time
        50 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        2 loaves 10 minutes
        Cook Time
        50 minutes
        Cinnamon Apple Pumpkin Bread
        Print Recipe
        Two fall favorites in this sweet bread is delicious times two!
          Servings Prep Time
          2 loaves 10 minutes
          Cook Time
          50 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          2 loaves 10 minutes
          Cook Time
          50 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: loaves
          Instructions
          1. Grease two loaf pans and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
          2. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.
          3. Cream butter, sugar, and eggs with a mixer until light and fluffy.
          4. Add vanilla extract and pumpkin. Mix until combined.
          5. Add dry ingredients and stir until combined. Do not beat.
          6. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.
          7. Bake for 50 minutes.
          8. Cool completely, slice and enjoy!
          Share this Recipe
           

          Food Ideas for a Frozen Themed Birthday Party

          Has Frozen fever left your house? For the most part, it has at ours. At its peak, our little guy wanted to watch it every single day. And he got to more often than I would like to admit. I really liked the movie, too. So many funny quips in that one.

          When it came time to have our little guy’s 3rd birthday, it was very clear that he would LOVE an Olaf themed birthday. He wasn’t into Anna and Elsa so much as he was Olaf and Sven. If you look for birthday items in a Frozen theme, there is very little Olaf and Sven.

          So I improvised and came up with some food ideas and my good friend Claire made him an Olaf cake. His big sister made him cupcakes and decorated them with the party colors (green, blue, and white). He was over the moon.

          Food Ideas for a Frozen Theme Party

          Food Ideas for a Frozen Themed Birthday Party

          You will notice that I did very little actual cooking for this party. That was very intentional. I had very little time to spare in that season. You will also notice the abundance of sugar at this party. There were a LOT of people and plus, sugar is my jam. Let’s get on with things.

          1. In the first photo, you will notice that we had Snowballs and Kristoff’s Mountain Climbing Ropes. The (edible) Snowballs were powdered sugar donut holes. The climbing ropes were the pull and peel Twizzlers, which we pulled and wound into little rope bundles.

          Food Ideas for a Frozen Theme Party - Coronation Dip

          2. Coronation Dip is a super simple dip I love to make because it is delicious. A brick of cream cheese, a small jar of Old English Cheese spread, and a sprinkle of garlic powder are warmed up and then stirred until combined well. Then we tear up bagels (plain and everything are both great choices) and dip them in the dip. Easy peasy.

          Food Ideas for a Frozen Theme Party - Sandwiches

          3. We Finish Each Other’s Sandwiches! Bless this movie for having something so simple in their movie to pull from. These were basic lunch meat sandwiches that I put together and cut into triangle wedges. It was easy and delicious.

          Food Ideas for a Frozen Theme Party - Hot Glogg

          4. Hot Glogg was apple cider that I poured into a slow cooker and turned on keep warm for an hour before the party and left on. Again, super easy.

          Food Ideas for a Frozen Theme Party - Olaf Arms

          5. Olaf Arms – Ok, so some kids won’t find this funny, but our little guy thought it was hilarious. No Olafs were harmed at this party, those are pretzel sticks. I opened a bag and poured them in the bowl. It was strenuous, I tell you.

          Food Ideas for a Frozen Theme Party - Salad Plates

          6. Who Knew We Owned (almost) 8,000 Salad Plates?! One of my favorite lines from the movie. Not really sure why, just makes me chuckle. It was the perfect phrase for our appetizer plates.

          Food Ideas for a Frozen Theme Party - String Cheese Olafs

          7. String Cheese Olafs. Some of these looked more Olaf-y than others, but they still made my little guy giggle. I used black, brown, and yellow Sharpies to draw on the string cheese. It was a bit more difficult than expected because they started condensating and the Sharpies didn’t work so well then.

          My daughter drew the ones that have the full Olaf on them. She misunderstood my directions, but they came out cute!

          Food Ideas for a Frozen Theme Party - Sven's Carrots

          8. You can’t forget Sven’s Carrots! Just some baby carrots chilling in my Pampered Chef veggie server that I just adore, but I don’t think they make any more. Boo.

          Also on this tray were Snow Covered Trees, but I didn’t get a good picture of those. It was just some broccoli and ranch dressing, if you must know my secrets.

          9. We also had some brownies that we cut up and put on a plate with the card reading “I Wanna Stuff Some Chocolate In My Face!” because that moment is one that just HAD to be documented at the party. It was the moment I felt a bond with a Disney princess for the very first time in my life. #girlaftermyownheart

          That picture turned out blurry so I couldn’t show you. A few others that we had with blurry photos:

          10. Rollie Trollies – These were meatballs I put in our other slow cooker with a sauce I found through Pinterest. I didn’t keep the link, but they were super easy. Like bbq sauce and jelly easy.

          11. Fresh Scandanavian Water – I put this label on our homemade Berkey water filter where every gets water.

          12. Kristoff’s Ice – This went on our ice maker for those who wanted ice.

          To make the little table tents, I simply typed up the different labels in my word processor and printed them. Then I cut them up and glued them to some cardstock that I then cut up and folded in half. Whew, that is exhausting, isn’t it?

          See, a super cute themed birthday party doesn’t have to be terrible complicated. Just get a bit creative and pull things out of a favorite movie and then try to match it to some easy ideas. Give it a shot, you might surprise yourself.

          Food Ideas for a Frozen Theme Party

          Healthy Breakfast Popsicles – No Blender Required!

          I made these for my toddler who is constantly insisting on candy, popsicles, and the like for breakfast. One morning it hit me, I should make healthy breakfast popsicles I can say yes to. So I did.

          And these popsicles do not require a blender!

          Healthy Breakfast Popsicles

          Healthy Breakfast Popsicles – No Blender Required!

          For an easier-to-read (and printable) recipe, see the bottom of this post.

          Healthy Breakfast Popsicles - the ingredients

          You will need the following ingredients:

          • 2 cups milk – any kind, I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk
          • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
          • 5-10 teaspoons granola – I used this one
          • 1-2 bananas – depending on size, you want these fairly ripe

          You will also need a popsicle mold and popsicle sticks. I bought these Norpro Ice Pop Makers from Amazon last year. I love it now that my kids are older and need a bigger popsicle.

          For my littlest toddlers, I use these Zoku Mini Pop Molds because they are just enough for them to get through without too much melting mess. Please note, that this recipe will make way too much for just one of these molds because they are pretty small.

          Breakfast popsicles

          Pour the chia seeds into the milk, stir, and set aside. Mash the bananas in a bowl with a fork. Pour the milk/chia seed mix into the bowl and mix well.

          Healthy Breakfast Popsicles

          Scoop 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of granola into your popsicle molds.

          Breakfast popsicles

          Pour the banana, chia seed, and milk mixture into the molds. Cap and insert popsicle sticks. Place popsicles in the freezer and let freeze for at least 5 hours.

          Enjoy!

          Healthy Breakfast PopsiclesWhen you have a resident threenager in the house, you eventually tire of hearing the…

          Posted by Simply Vicki on Thursday, September 10, 2015


          Healthy Breakfast Popsicles
          Print Recipe
          When your toddlers insist on popsicles for breakfast, surprise them with a yes! These are healthy and yummy.
            Servings Prep Time
            10 popsicles 10 minutes
            Passive Time
            5+ hours
            Servings Prep Time
            10 popsicles 10 minutes
            Passive Time
            5+ hours
            Healthy Breakfast Popsicles
            Print Recipe
            When your toddlers insist on popsicles for breakfast, surprise them with a yes! These are healthy and yummy.
              Servings Prep Time
              10 popsicles 10 minutes
              Passive Time
              5+ hours
              Servings Prep Time
              10 popsicles 10 minutes
              Passive Time
              5+ hours
              Ingredients
              Servings: popsicles
              Instructions
              1. Pour the chia seeds into the milk, stir, and set aside. Mash the bananas in a bowl with a fork. Pour the milk/chia seed mix into the bowl and mix well.
              2. Scoop 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of granola into your popsicle molds. Pour the banana, chia seed, and milk mixture into the molds.
              3. Cap and insert popsicle sticks. Place popsicles in the freezer and let freeze for at least 5 hours.
              Share this Recipe
               

              Strawberry Pistachio Gelato Sundae

              Have you ever tried gelato? I hadn’t until today. I am thankful to the folks over at Turkey Hill Dairy for sponsoring this post and introducing me to their new all natural gelato. My kids were pretty happy, too.

              We each chose different flavors and toppings, but today I am going to show you my 3-year-old’s creation and a yummy recipe for a sugar free strawberry topping.

              Strawberry Pistachio Gelato Sundae (includes a recipe for a sugar free strawberry topping!)

              Yes, my 3-year-old chose the Turkey Hill chocolate chocolate chip flavor, the sugar free strawberry topping I made, and his favorite nut, pistachios. And he enjoyed it very much…

              Strawberry Pistachio Gelato Sundae (includes a recipe for a sugar free strawberry topping!)

              Strawberry Pistachio Gelato Sundae (includes a recipe for a sugar free strawberry topping!)

              The rest of us enjoyed flavors like, sea salted caramel (me), chocolate peanut butter, mint chocolate chip, and purely vanilla. We picked up 5 flavors total, one of each that our Kroger carried. They did not have the hazelnut, coffee chip, or peach mango, but maybe your local store will!

              Turkey Hill Dairy's All Natural Gelato - made with simple ingredients.

              A little about Turkey Hill’s All Natural Gelato…

              • Turkey Hill is the first major ice cream brand to offer all natural gelato.
              • All natural gelato is made with simple ingredients like milk, cream, and sugar. I was pleasantly surprised to see no chemicals listed on the ingredient lists I checked out.
              • Gelato has less air in it than ice cream, which makes it have a denser, richer flavor. Definitely an indulgence.
              • You can find the all natural gelato wherever Turkey Hill products are sold.

              This stuff is so, so good. Be sure to give it a try!

              Turkey Hill Dairy's All Natural Gelato - made with simple ingredients.

              Now, let me give you this super simple recipe to top your gelato with!

              Super Simple, Sugar Free Strawberry Gelato Topping

              Sugar Free Strawberry Gelato Topping

              Since gelato is so rich, the tartness of unsweetened strawberries is just right.

              • 1 lb. container of fresh strawberries
              • 2-4 T. butter

              Chop your strawberries. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium/medium-low heat. Add the strawberries and bring to a simmer. Cook the strawberries until soft and saucy. This takes about 10-15 minutes.

              Allow your sauce to cool completely before you pour it over your gelato or it will melt it pretty quickly and you will have soup. Of course, you may be like I was as a kid and prefer your ice cream that way.

              This is good over a lot of flavors, but over top the purely vanilla is simply divine!

              Sugar Free Strawberry Gelato Topping

              Sugar Free Strawberry Gelato Topping

              Sugar Free Strawberry Gelato Topping

              Connect With Turkey Hill Dairy

              Be sure to find Turkey Hill on Facebook and Twitter to stay on top of all the latest and greatest news, like when they launch awesome products like all natural gelato!

              Turkey Hill Dairy's all natural gelato - made with simple ingredients

               

              Frugal Family Dinners – Beans

              You can’t not think of beans when you think of frugal family dinners. Dry beans are very economical, even organic ones. It’s a great way to save money on feeding your family.

              The PROBLEM with beans, for me anyways, is that I can never think of how to actually fix them. I’m sort of on a mission to whittle down our food costs and I want to take advantage of the economical protein that is beans.

              So I took to the internet to find some options.

              Frugal Family Dinners - Beans - 40+ recipes to help stretch your food budget.

              Frugal Family Dinners – Beans

              I’m going to do my best to organize these, but there is some overlap.

              Meatless Bean Recipes

              Or mostly meatless.

              Beans as Meal Stretchers

              Or recipes with meat and beans.

              Chilies with Beans

              Slow Cooker Bean Recipes

              Bean Side Dishes

              Beans for Breakfast

              Yes, seriously. (And yes, I realize this post is called frugal family dinners…)

              There you go. Over 40 frugal family dinner ideas for beans. I have added a few to my list to try, which ones do you think you would try?

              Super Simple Meal Planning Method

              Super simple meal planning method. Get more vegetables in your day.

              Meal planning is one of those classic tips for those looking to be more intentional with either their food choices and/or budget. Taking the time to plan out your meals ahead of time wards off things like last minute drive-thru stops and takeout orders. Both are hard on the wallet and can be hard on the waistline, too.

              I have used a variety of meal planning methods over the years. I’ve planned out every meal and snack, created lists of options to pick from each day, planned out two week’s worth of meals, and worked week by week. I haven’t tried the monthly meal planning method as of yet, but I know some swear by it. I can see how it works, but I’m not ready to commit to that right now.

              I recently switched to a super simple meal planning method designed to put more of a focus on vegetables. I’ve mulled this format over in my head for a while now, but couldn’t quite make it work until recently. We decided to take some time off from eating meat so that we can be more intentional about getting more veggies in our diet.

              This can very easily work with eating meat, too. In fact, I will probably continue with this method for a while. It really is simple.

              I do this with a pencil and a piece of paper, but I typed it up so I could give you a clearer look at my plan. (After seeing it all typed up, I will likely do this moving forward.)

              Super simple meal planning method to get more veggies in your day.

              Simple Meal Planning Method

              This is basically fill in the blank. I fill it in with what we have on hand and what I’m picking up from grocery shopping.

              Here’s more detail:

              • Breakfast – We are moving away from cereals because they are loaded with sugar and are not very filling. We rotate between oatmeal with different fixings and eggs. For the eggs, I will either sautee the veggies and pour scrambled eggs over it or serve them alongside fried eggs.
              • Lunch – I’ve organized the veggies by how I cook them. Then for lunch, I simply pick two plus a grain/carb or do three different vegetables. My kids also love to do a veggie tray with ranch dip or hummus, we often have more than three vegetable options on that.
              • Dinner – This is where I’ve struggled to find what works best. I will be focusing on more protein, less/no carb meals. I’ve kept this simple specifically to motivate me to use more veggies than anything. I use the list from the lunch section to pick my veggies.
              • Snacks – Again, trying to focus on higher protein items. I also use my breakfast shake when I’m needing something sweet because I struggle with that.

              Why This Simple Method Works For Me

              I have found that I can always find a way to get carbs in my diet. What I struggle to get in are lots of vegetables and protein. I am finding that being intentional about these by writing them out helps me make better choices. I’m hoping this has a positive impact on my weight, too.

              I find this method to be the perfect blend of needing to plan ahead and needing the freedom of choosing what to eat. I have never stuck with a “eat this at this time” regimen for more than a day or two. I find it to be suffocating and I tend to rebel when we have those. In other words, it has the opposite of a positive effect on me.

              There are no recipes. I love to cook with recipes, collect them on Pinterest, and use my cookbook collection. But I have found that when my focus is on using recipes, I don’t actually cook as much because it ALWAYS takes me 2x’s the time listed on the recipe, but I never plan for that.

              Going forward, I will probably have some recipe based items added because I don’t want to get bored with the options and my husband enjoys variety. For now, no recipes is working for me.

              This simple meal planning method works for me. If you are struggling with getting enough vegetables in your diet or need to shake up your meal planning efforts, give this a try and see what you think!

              If you need some other meal planning ideas, check out my Pinterest board just for that!

              Follow Vicki Arnold’s board Food :: Menu Planning on Pinterest.
              If you would prefer recipes to follow, you can check out these cookbooks for some plant-based meal ideas to get more veggies in your day:

              Happy Eating!