Healthy Food for Dummies
May 9, 2014 5:22 PM   Subscribe

Buzzfeed published an extremely detailed "clean eating" plan the other day. Say what you will about so-called "clean eating", I don't really buy the idea of "detox" anyway. What I really liked was the level of detail included. I'd like to eat healthier and less processed food, but I need a lot of guidance. Most diet plans are general and include a few recipes here and there, but this plan was totally next level. Help me find similar plans.

So here's what appeals to me about the Buzzfeed plan:

1. It allowed for three meals a day plus two snacks.

2. Non-processed food, but meals seemed simple to cook and didn't take much time.

3. It told you exactly what to buy and when.

4. It also told you exactly how to store everything and when to defrost it to make meal prep as easy as possible.

5. The weekday lunch meals were portable and easy to prepare at work.

6. It had a lot of variety and even allowed for some sweets.

7. It was meant for one person (I live alone and cook only for myself).

Here's what I didn't like about that plan:

1. No red meat. I love beef, but try to eat organic/grass-fed when I can.

2. Only 1300 to 1600 calories per day. Despite being a petite female, I am very active and I fear I would be starving/not have enough energy for CrossFit workouts if I ate that little.

3. Kale.

I have no diet restrictions (other than despising kale) and am an omnivore. I've tried the paleo diet before with some good results in terms of feeling energetic, full, and healthy, but ran out of steam after 3 weeks. I would like to have better eating habits than I currently do, as frozen pizzas and pints of Ben & Jerry's make far too many appearances in my usual regimen. I know the Buzzfeed plan was only for two weeks, but I feel like that is a good way to kickstart some better habits so something that length or longer would be great. Thanks!
posted by Fuego to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 112 users marked this as a favorite
Have you seen Whole30? I'm giving it serious consideration for July.

One thing that's helpful about Whole30 is the support group of the forums.
posted by janey47 at 5:41 PM on May 9, 2014

Response by poster: Whole30 seems OK, I guess, but it's awfully restrictive. Even when I did paleo I wasn't strict paleo--I ate starches, corn and rice and still consumed some dairy, but not as much as usual. I don't really do well with anything that makes entire categories of food off-limits.
posted by Fuego at 6:26 PM on May 9, 2014

Best answer: So I am a bit of a nutrition nerd and this little plan hit all my buttons. It's the most detailed guide that I've seen online presented in a user-friendly manner. What I'm saying is: I don't think you are going to find anything better than this. I think you should follow this plan for a male and add extra nut butter to your smoothies, that should bump you up to 2,000 calories+.

As for similar guides - Nerdfitness has a Rebel nutrition guide that I think you have to pay for, and it's definitely not as pretty or detailed as this. But still cool.

Insanity also has an included nutrition plan which I found to be surprisingly cool. They list a bunch of 200/300/400 calorie meals with good macros and go into quite a bit of detail into putting it all together. Also not free, unfortunately.
posted by pintapicasso at 6:34 PM on May 9, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, just swap in some red meat for a few meals, use some other leafy greens instead of kale (swiss chard is lovely!), add some beans to some meals as needed, and make sure you add some protein to the snacks, which are sometimes just fruit.

Something as simple as cooking up a pot of black beans one week and chickpeas another (as an example) would let you easily add nutritious calories, protein and starch to one or more meals or snacks a day. For example, add some cooked black beans to those dinner wraps on day 2.
posted by maudlin at 6:42 PM on May 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Insanity also has an included nutrition plan which I found to be surprisingly cool. They list a bunch of 200/300/400 calorie meals with good macros and go into quite a bit of detail into putting it all together. Also not free, unfortunately.

Yeah I was thinking of this too, the Insanity meals include more carby stuff than the Buzzfeed one and could be bolted on as side dishes or something; plus they list "calorie blocks" in the book of 100 and 200 kcals you can throw into meals to increase your intake. If you want a copy memail me OP, I can email it to you.
posted by jamesonandwater at 8:42 PM on May 9, 2014

I am finally (finally!) on a kind of meal plan that really works for me. I tried to follow some meal plans I found online but found that none of them met every one of my (maybe a little finicky) requirements. After looking at several meal plans for ideas, I sat down for an hour or so and worked out my own meal plan so I could factor everything in. It was really frustrating during that hour because I had to keep re-working things (Oh right, I can't cook on Tuesday nights because I stay late at work and then go to trivia... maybe I can cook on Monday night and save leftovers) but now that I've got a plan, I've got it. Mind you, I don't mind eating the same stuff for breakfast and lunch every single day and only varying my snacks/dinners because it makes shopping a whole lot easier/more predictable, so YMMV.

Here is what I did:

- Sit down when I had about an hour to myself with no interruptions
- Write down all of the weekly commitments/time restraints I had to consider (e.g. Tuesdays - work late, Thursdays - usually go out for dinner, etc.)
- Make a list of meals that I find easy to prepare (I'm not a great cook and I don't like to be in the kitchen for more than 30 minutes at a time to prepare one meal)
- Fit the meals into my week based on my schedule (easy meals or leftovers for busy days, more time-consuming things when I won't be rushed, etc.)
- Review the meal plan (with a bunch of snack options added in) to see how it adds up health-wise (for me this meant making sure it was low-carb, high in protein, with plenty of vegetables)
- Make a shopping list for all of the things I will need for the week (or for 3-4 days if you plan to go shopping twice a week)
- Write out your the plan and stick it on the fridge

The first week might be an adjustment - say you forget to pick up enough lettuce at the grocery store or you skipped making dinner on Wednesday and now you have no leftovers for lunch on Thursday - but you'll get used to it. I love knowing what I am going to eat. I tend to prep ahead a few days if I can so that I spend less time in the kitchen on a daily basis.

If you need ideas for quick, healthy recipes, spend a few minutes searching AskMe. Most of the recipes I repeat weekly are ones I found on here.

Good luck!
posted by gursky at 9:18 PM on May 9, 2014 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Have you looked into My family did it for a few weeks. It's made for 2people but it's simple to just cut everything in half, though our idea of a serving of protein was different than theirs so we just bought a bit extra meat, so maybe the not-quite-enough-for-two-people would mean it would work out nicely for you.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:32 PM on May 9, 2014

Linda at Cook for Good does this aimed at vegan and organic (although it is easy to make her food vegetarian rather than vegan or just add some meat on the side). Her books have very clear meal plans, shopping lists, and day by day, step by step guides.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:47 AM on May 10, 2014

Best answer: And it looks like you can read the first chapter of Wildly Affordable Organic here.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:49 AM on May 10, 2014

Best answer: I wonder if The Stone Soup might help your planning? She has a number of simple recipes, all in the same "clean eating" vein, and has a nice mix of proteins. Most of her recipes serve 2, but it's easy to halve or double them.

In many cases, she also provides storage info, alternatives if you're vegetarian/vegan/not-in-the-mood-for-that-particular-protein, and more wallet-friendly options.

Although it only covers a week's worth of dinners and one dessert, I have been subscribing to her meal planning service, and it works very well. I do have to adapt some of the recipes because she includes a delicious amount of fish, but Mr. metarkest is highly allergic.
posted by metarkest at 5:56 AM on May 10, 2014

One of my guilty pleasures at the grocery store checkout line is Self Magazine, and for all their problemss they actually tend to have pretty good meal plans. Lots of veggies, but also meat and grains, pretty easy to prepare, and they always provide "fast food" options if you don't end up cooking a meal you meant to.

This month has a "Drop 10" plan which is obviously not what you want to do, but seems like a decent 1600 calorie-a-day plan that you can supplement with an extra snack. It looks like it's available online too, with a login.

They do tend to be kale-heavy, but as maudlin said, that's easy to switch for spinach or swiss chard or broccoli or whatever.
posted by LeeLanded at 10:23 AM on May 10, 2014

« Older Smell ya later!   |   In need of career advice Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.