Get Ready! We’re about to fuel up and roll out! But before we get going there are a few things we need to address:
- Your Kitchen
- Your Shopping Trips
- Grocery Day Ritual
- Evening Ritual
- General Food Preparation Tips:
- Prepping your proteins
- Grains and legumes
- How to press tofu
- Pre-Made Protein Shakes
- Getting your Greens Ready
- Helpful Hints
Let’s roll out!!
Fact: If a food is in your kitchen, you will eventually eat it. If you are serious about cleaning up your eating, you need to take a close look at what’s currently in your kitchen and set yourself up for success.
Be realistic, if you have a family, you can’t go crazy throwing things out. But you can be mindful about the potential speed-bumps you might face in your fridge and pantry.
If you can, here’s what you should eliminate:
- Soft drinks and juices – For the next 4 weeks, focus on calorie-free beverages like water, green tea and coffee.
- High fat and sugar-laden dips, sauces and dressings – We’ll teach you how to make your own yummy spreads, and will have enough tasty snacks that you won’t miss the dips. What can you keep? Simple oil vinaigrettes.
- High fat processed meat – No more luncheon meat. In our meal prep, we’ll cook chicken breasts and turkey meatballs to fill those gaps, not to mention lots of healthy fish and ground beef options.
- Frozen desserts, ice cream, cake, snack foods and cookies – This more or less goes without saying. These foods exist to tempt you into eating them. Leave them for your 10% foods – and make yourself go out to get them when cravings strike.
- Most processed foods – So much of Derby Fuel is about learning cooking and eating skills that will carry you through a lifetime. Aim to get as much whole food as you can. If you can’t, make sure you’re reading labels closely.
And what should you add to your kitchen and pantry?
Spices – Make sure you have all sorts of different spicing options: oregano, basil, curry, turmeric, mustard seeds, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, rosemary, parsley, paprika, thyme, clove, coarse salt and pepper and so on. Make high-quality spices your new best friends.
Fresh produce – Each week will have a grocery list of fresh produce for its recipes, but your should also invest in lots of snacking veggies and fruits. You will also need WAY more eggs than you think. Also, even though it’s not fresh, purchase lots of canned tuna. You’ll need it too.
Frozen produce – Stock up your freezer with ground beef, ground turkey, chicken breasts, and salmon. Also, invest in frozen veggies and fruits – they’re a life-saver when you’re short on time.
Healthy grains – Fill your pantry with rolled oats, oat bran, flax seeds (ground and whole), quinoa and wheat bran.
Nuts and Seeds – These guys will be a staple of snack-time healthy fats. See which nuts and seeds you like best and load up. Walnuts, almonds, pecans and cashews are some of the healthiest and can be used in a variety of dishes.
Legumes – Lentils, chickpeas, split peas and beans are a great addition to many dishes, and a good vegetarian protein switch. You can buy canned beans to save time.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), Coconut Oil and Butter – These fats will make up the bulk of your frying foundation. Make sure you have at least one of them on hand at all times.
Green Tea, Herbal Teas – Since we’ll be shooting for calorie-free beverages this month, have lots of tasty teas so that you have flavour options. If you’re a sucker for soda, invest in some plain carbonated water that you can flavour with lemon, lime or berries.
What else does your kitchen need? Horsepower! Here are the gadgets and equipment that will make your life much easier:
Non-stick skillet or Wok (or both)
Baking dish (ceramic or pyrex)
Saucepot with lid (ideally large and small, but you can make do with one)
Large mixing bowl (ideally more than one, but you can make do with one)
At least one good knife
Mixing cups and spoons
Tupperware (or other food storage)
Cooler bag (for meals on the go)
(optional, but recommended) Steamer sauce pot with lid
(optional, but recommended) Rice cooker
(optional, but recommended) Food processor (you can get by with just a blender, but it’s tougher)
Alright, so your kitchen is looking good – let’s make sure that you are armed and ready to take on the grocery store like a pro.
Your Shopping Trip
The absolute best way to get everything you need a the grocery store is to be prepared and have a list. Derby Fuel will give you lists for each set of weekly meals, as well as a general grocery guide that touches on the foods we mentioned above when we made over your kitchen.
Aim to shop the perimeter of the store as best you can – that’s where the majority of the fresh foods that you’re going to be eating will be found. Keep in mind that the quality of food you buy is important, but that eating well is more important that eating “perfectly”. Buy seasonal whenever you can, and organic if budget permits.
Here are some tips to save you money:
- Buy in bulk. When you can, load up on staples that are on sale (tuna, peanut butter, eggs, veggies, apples, Greek yogurt, etc.). Check the per-unit price to make sure you’re actually getting a deal. If you have one, a chest freezer can be an invaluable kitchen addition, allowing you to have all of your proteins on hand at any given time.
- Buy pre-frozen meat or fish that’s been packaged by the store you’re in. Instead of getting exact amounts from the butcher, pre-packaged proteins are often discounted.
- Substitute stuff that’s on sale – if a recipe calls for ground beef, but ground turkey is on sale, don’t be afraid to mix it up. Refer to your swap guide to switch out ingredients.
- Look for CSAs (community supported agriculture), farmer’s markets, and local farmers. Often buying straight from the farm can save you money. If you can take a drive out in the country, you’ll often find eggs or apples for half the price of the store.
- Also, if you have a chest freezer, look into purchasing large amounts of protein (ie. a quarter cow) direct from local farms). It’s a big outlay all at once, but a big savings in the long run.
Grocery Day Ritual
This process is a huge time-saving tool. It simply means that you build some extra time into your grocery shopping trip, and instead of just putting things into the fridge or freezer when you get home, you get some prep done so that you’ve already got meals ready to go.
Along with the Grocery Day Ritual, you also want to get in the habit of prepping your meals for the next day, the evening prior (or the morning of, if you have more time in the early part of your day). We call it the Evening Ritual. This is a simple step that sets you up to dominate your day. This one can be especially challenging if you have a late derby practice, so plan ahead. If you need to prep extra on a non-derby night, you can build that in too!
General Food Preparation Tools
Here are some general food preparation tools that will make sure you’re ready to rock your new healthy cooking space.
Prepping Your Proteins
How to hard boil an egg
There are two schools of thought when it comes to hard boiling eggs. Either method works, and you’ll find one you prefer. Here are your options:
- Place your eggs in a pot and cover with about an inch of water. Bring to a boil then cover, remove from the heat and set aside 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel.
- Place your eggs in a pot with some water. Boil them for about 10 minutes. Let cool and peel.
If you intend to use your hard boiled eggs on a different day than the day you prep, you can leave them refrigerated in their shells for future use. They can be kept in their shells for about a week. If you peel them, but want to use them later, put them in a container with some cold water and keep covered. They’ll last for 4-5 days.
How to bake chicken breasts
If nothing else, over this 4 weeks, you’ll learn to love prepping your chicken and eggs in advance. Here’s a great way to make sure you’ve got all the chicken you need for the week.
Pound down your boneless, skinless chicken breasts (BSCB) with a heavy thing like a mason jar or meat pounder.
Heat some EVOO in a skillet over medium heat, then add the chicken in a single layer, adding salt, pepper and seasoning if desired. After 1 minute, flip and season other side.
Place the lid on the pan and reduce the heat to its lowest setting. Cook on low (without lifting the lid) for 10 minutes.
Keep the lid on, remove from heat, and let sit for 10 minutes.
After the time is up, cut into the thickest part of the chicken to make sure it’s done (flesh will be white, not transparent and juices will flow clear). If it’s not fully cooked, cook on medium heat with the lid on for another 2-3 minutes
How to bake a salmon filet
For the most part, you’ll want to eat your salmon fillets right out of the oven, but leftover salmon can be a great addition to salads later on too.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Place salmon on well-greased tin foil in a baking dish or on a cookie sheet, with a little cracked pepper (or dijon mustard), cover with foil (shiny side in) and bake 15-20 minutes (if fillets are frozen, you can cook longer).
You can also cook the salmon uncovered, but shorten the cooking time to 12-15 minutes.
Grains and Legumes
How to cook rice
Rice is a pretty healthy grain, and keeps well in the fridge for several days, so you can make a big batch and hold some in reserve for future meals.
- Measure your rice into a strainer and rinse, checking for debris. For every cup of rice you put into the strainer, put 2 cups of water into a sauce pot large enough for rice to expand in.
- Bring the water to a boil (without rice).
- Once it has boiled, add the rice, a dash of salt and some oil or butter (optional).
- Bring heat down to a gentle simmer, cover and cook. Don;t take the lid off as it affects the cooking time.
- Check on the rice after about 18 minutes for white and 30 for brown. When done, the rice will be tender, not crunchy. If there’s water left in the pan you can drain it off.
- Let the rice stand, covered, in the sauce pot for a few minutes then remove the lid, fluff and serve.
How to cook quinoa
Quinoa isn’t just a great substitute protein option for vegetarians, it’s a great addition to any number of recipes. It keeps for 2-3 days in the fridge, and cooked quinoa freezes really well in an airtight container.
- Rinse the quinoa, measuring cups into a strainer to check for debris.
- Add quinoa to large sauce pan (it will increase in size). Add 2 cups of water or broth per cup of quinoa and a dash of salt (and seasonings if you want) and bring to a rolling boil.
- Turn heat down to lowest setting. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes.
- Remove the pot from heat and let stand for 5 more minutes, covered in a bowl or container.
- Fluff and eat! If any liquid remains in the bottom of the pan or if the quinoa is still a bit crunchy, return the pot to low heat and cook, covered, for another 5 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed.
You can also cook quinoa in a rice cooker, just abide by the 2:1 liquid to quinoa ratio.
How to cook lentils
Cooked lentils will keep in the fridge for about a week. They can be served with olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, fresh herbs or added to recipes.
- Add 2 C water to a sauce pot for every 1 C lentils that you want to cook.
- Measure the lentils into a strainer and rinse, picking out any bad ones or debris.
- Transfer the lentils into the sauce pot, adding seasonings if you want, bring to a rapid boil, then lower to a gentle simmer.
- Cook uncovered for 15-30 minutes, then drain, season and serve or reserve. Lentils are cooked when they are tender.
Make sure to use a big saucepan, since the lentils will double in size.
How to press tofu
Tofu can be a wonderful protein addition to many dishes – but you want to make sure you’re buying the right tofu for the job. Silken tofu is good sauces, creams and batters; soft is good for scrambles; and firm or extra-firm is good for everything else.
Before you use tofu in a recipe, make sure to press the water out of it:
- Take a plate, line it with a towel or paper towel.
- Place the tofu block on the towel, then cover with another towel/paper towel.
- Cover with something heavy like a cutting board or plate with stuff on it. Drain periodically.
The whole process will take 1-4 hours depending on how firm the tofu is to begin with.
Pre-Made Protein Shakes
There are loads of shake recipes included in the Derby Fuel recipes. Tight on time in the mornings? You can even make your shakes in advance!
Take a ziploc bag – add all of the fresh ingredients (fruit, chopped spinach) that you want in your smoothie. Seal and freeze or refrigerate. In the morning, add a scoop of protein powder and your liquid and enjoy!
Getting Your Greens Ready
One of the biggest reasons that folks don’t eat enough vegetables and leafy greens is they require washing and chopping before they’re ready to eat. How do we deal with that? We wash and chop in advance! Here are some time-saving tips:
- Buy your leafy greens pre-washed, in re-sealable containers.
- Chop half of your veggies for snacking for the week as soon as you bring them home.
- Chop the veggies for that night and the next day’s meals as soon as you bring them home.
Most veggies will keep for 3-5 days chopped in the fridge. If they’re looking dry, add a bit of water to the container.
Got a handle on meal prep? Great!
If you don’t, that’s okay too – take each new behaviour at your own pace. Often meal prep is the piece that’s the toughest. But it’s also the piece that can make the most difference to your success. If both the Grocery Day and Evening Ritual seem like too much – pick one and stick to it. Once it feels easy, work in the other habit.
Don’t force yourself to make all of the changes at once – multiple studies have shown that slow, methodical habits tend to be the ones that stick over time. If all of the recipes seem intimidating, pick the most appealing one or two and just stick to the Daily Habits as best you can.
Once you’ve cleaned out your kitchen and picked a day to do your first grocery shopping, pick a day where you have lots of free time. It’s easy to navigate the grocery store when you know exactly what you’re buying, so make sure to have your list with you.
Feel free to make changes to the food prep as need be. The prep documents that accompany each week’s plans are suggestions – you need to make the plan work for you. Just know that the more you can get accomplished ahead of time, the more time you’ll have to make things on the fly as well.
When you’re starting out on this plan, you will need a bit of extra time in your routines, so set your alarm a bit earlier (at least for the first week or so) to ensure that you’ll have time to pack all the food you’ve prepped. Another alarm tip – set your smartphone alarm to help you stay on track throughout the day. If you set it to 4-hour increments (at first), you’ll never go too long without a meal. Once you’re in the swing of things, though, your body will become the alarm.
Finally, give yourself time to adjust to these new habits. They say it takes at least two weeks for a behaviour to become a habit, so don’t expect everything to change overnight. The habits you already have now took time to form in the first place, so laying down new patterns will take time too. Be patient with yourself, and give yourself a break when things don’t go according to plan – remember we’re not aiming for 100% compliance, 90% is more than good enough!