When you first start following a new healthy eating diet plan like those on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenges it can take a bit of time to get used to the new recipes and food suggestions.
If you’ve done a number of Challenges before you are probably already used to how everything works and have a few routines in place to make being part of the Challenge really easy.
If this is one of your first 28 Day Challenges then at the beginning you might feel overwhelmed about how you are going to make food preparation easy, how you are going to get used to fitting the recipes into your usual weekly schedule, how are you going to incorporate the ingredients into your shopping budget etc.
Below are some great tips that will make following the healthy meal plans quite simple, whether this is your first or fifth Challenge:

Time Saving

  • We can’t say it enough, the best way to save time when making the recipes throughout the 28 Day Challenge is to set aside a small amount of time at the beginning of each week to get yourself organised. Being organised will make you feel at ease, calm and ready for each week.
  • So once you have access to each weekly Meal Plan write a note in your diary or just block out 30 minutes without interruptions so you can sit down and work out what you are going to eat for the week.
  • If you haven’t done it already, assess what’s already in your pantry, your refrigerator and freezer as this will help you save time as well as money.
  • Do you have any frozen healthy meals you’ve prepared earlier that you can use up throughout the coming week? If so then write them into your Meal Plan.
  • Do you have a lot of leftover fruit or vegetables that you don’t want to waste? If so then either look for recipes that contain these ingredients in the Challenge recipe hub or choose recipes where you can swap the veggies in the ingredient list for what you have. You can make swaps with most recipes, it won’t ruin them.
  • Do you have a lot of healthy snack items already in the pantry? Well then add these into your Meal Plan and you won’t need to prepare or purchase new items for the week.
  • If you’re starting from scratch and your pantry and fridge are pretty empty then go through the suggested Meal Plan for the week and think – will I enjoy all these recipes? Will my family enjoy them? Which ones would I like to swap? What types of meals would suit me better? And then go through the recipe hub and make replacements to suit your lifestyle. There’s no point in spending time making a recipe that uses fish if you don’t enjoy eating seafood. Replace it with something you would enjoy or something you know how to make.
  • Look out for the weekly “Food Prep Tip” blogs that are created with each specific week in mind. These are published the same day the Meal Plans are and give specific suggestions of which recipes you can make ahead of time. Which ones you can prepare and then store for eating throughout the week.
  • Once you’ve got your Meal Plan set, you’ve selected the serving sizes you want, you’ve doubled up on snack recipes or other main meal recipes that you know you can repeat throughout the week, then have a look and see if any of the recipes can be made earlier.
  • Can you set aside an hour or two on the weekend to make up soups, stews, pasta sauces, marinades, curries, lasagna etc? Can you peel and chop veggies and store them in containers in the fridge for salads, stir fries and snacks so when it comes to making a new recipe half the work is already done?
  • Think like a professional Chef and get as much prepared before you are going to cook as you can. If you have everything on hand and some ingredients already prepared, assembling the recipe and cooking becomes really simple.
  • Each morning, look at your Meal Plan and think about what you need to do to get the meals you’ve selected ready. Do you need to take something out of the freezer for dinner? Are you having a Healthy Mummy Smoothie for breakfast or have you pre-prepared a chia pudding or similar and can just grab it from the fridge? Are you having a sandwich or some pre-prepared soup for lunch?
  • Don’t get to 12noon or 5.30pm when you and the family are probably hungry and look at your Meal Plan and see that you’ve selected to make a casserole that requires an hour or more in the oven as this will just frustrate you and can often lead to you saying let’s just get takeaway tonight.
  • The more you prepare and plan for each week of the Challenge, the more it becomes a healthy habit. You’ll find that you’re only spending 5 minutes each morning thinking about what you need to prepare for the day’s recipes and it’s a ritual that makes it easy to eat a healthy diet.

Money Saving

  • Some people start the 28 Day Challenge and then complain about the cost of their groceries for the week but this is often as they haven’t planned or worked out how they can reduce costs.
  • Even though you customise your Meal Plan and therefore won’t know what you’re going to eat until each week of recipes is published, you can still do some pre-shopping for the Challenge. Ensure you’re stocked up on pantry staples like oils, spices, dried herbs, tinned tomatoes, tinned beans, wholemeal pastas, rolled oats, quinoa, couscous, snack items including dried fruits, nuts, seeds, rice cakes etc.
  • Then when you’ve worked out your Meal Plan for the week you should assess your fridge and pantry as outlined above and work out what you already have, what can you swap with items from your fridge so you’re not buying things you don’t need?
  • Choose recipes that might have less expensive ingredients. The Challenge recipes are designed to be budget friendly but if where you live seafood is really expensive then either don’t choose recipes with fish in them or swap the fish for a meat that is cheaper where you live, like chicken breast.
  • Swap ingredients as you need. If there’s a special on at your butcher or supermarket on chicken breast, mince, lean lamb, beef steaks etc, buy these items and swap them into the recipes you’ve chosen. A marinated lamb recipe can easily be turned into a marinated chicken recipe.
  • Try less expensive cuts of meat and use them in recipes that require slow cooking e.g. a casserole or goulash. Chuck steak is great for these types of meals and is often less expensive than lean beef steak which isn’t ideal for slow cooking anyway.
  • Don’t buy lots of items before you know your exact Meal Plan for the week. Repeat recipes throughout the week so you can buy ingredients in bulk as well as making it easier for you with food prep. Choose a couple of snack recipes that you can make in a larger batch and then store them correctly in the fridge, freezer or pantry and it makes it so easy to just grab something healthy as well as save you money on having to buy so many different ingredients.
  • If there are ingredients in the recipes that are out of season then swap these for something that is. Don’t try to buy peaches in the middle of winter as they are probably going to be expensive. Replace these with apples or pears or something else that’s in season.
  • The first shop you do for a Challenge might be slightly higher than what you would normally spend if you have to get a few different ingredients but once you get into the Challenges and you’re ensuring you use up what you already have, you’ll find it easy to stick to your weekly grocery budget.

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