I want to start this post by proving a point. Think back to the last time you ate something unhealthy then regretted it. Not a holiday or special occasion. I’m talking about one of those days where you had all intentions of eating healthy, but as soon as you gobbled down the last morsel you thought, “oh man, I really shouldn’t have eaten that.” Do you remember? Good. Now, take another second and try and remember why you made that decision in the first place.
Maybe you worked late and didn’t feel like stopping by the grocery store, so you ordered pizza. Perhaps you slept in, forgot to pack lunch, so it became a quick fast food run. Or, I dunno, maybe you had planned on leftovers, but your husband decided to eat it all for lunch. Although I don’t know of a husband who would ever do a thing like that (cough cough). No matter what specific situation triggered your slip, I’m willing to bet it all boiled down to not having a good backup plan.
In counseling my patients, it seems at least 75% of the time, a slip could have been prevented with simple meal planning. We all have those days when life gets crazier than expected. As you likely know from experience, eating healthy in a toxic food environment isn’t always convenient. It’s much easier to grab a burger and fries or a bowl of cereal for dinner than it is to prepare a home-cooked meal.
This is where meal planning comes in. Plan to have a backup plan!
Your backup plan could be as simple as a healthy frozen meal or a peanut butter sandwich and a piece of fresh fruit. Or maybe there is a grocery store nearby with a good salad bar or a deli. I’m sure you can think of lots of options, as long as your stomach isn’t growling.
One of the tips I give my clients to help them plan backup meals is to make a list of healthy pantry meals. These are meals that you can throw together with ingredients you always have on hand. Examples include soups made with frozen vegetables and beans, tuna salad on a bed of lettuce or a pasta dish made with tomato sauce and whatever vegetables you have on hand. Have a list of the ingredients needed for these recipes and replenish your stockpile whenever you go to the grocery store. Next time a hectic day at work (or a hungry husband) gets in way of your best intentions, you have a backup!
This recipe is one of our backup meals. I usually have leftover tortillas in the freezer and I vary the type of cheese based on what I have on hand – feta, mozzarella and jack cheese all work well. It takes more than 30 minutes to cook, but very little hands on preparation. It is also an easy way to use up leftover vegetables – spinach, shredded zucchini or chopped broccoli would all be easy to sneak into the sauce!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced small
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp whole wheat flour
- 1 28-ounce can no-added-salt crushed tomatoes
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ cup organic half and half (optional)
- 8 corn tortillas, cut into ½-inch strips
- 8 large eggs
- ½ cup shredded jalapeno cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds. Add the flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Stir in the tomatoes, crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper. Stir while scraping up the browned bits at the bottom. Cook about 5 minutes until thickened and bubbling. Stir in the half and half if using and set aside.
- Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. Spread the tortilla strips in an even layer over the tomato sauce. Spread the remaining sauce on top. Break the eggs on top of the tortillas and sauce. Sprinkle the cheese on top then black pepper.
- Bake for 25 minutes until the whites are set and the sauce is bubbly.