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One of the ways the we have not only saved time, but money as well is by cooking meals in bulk. Originally we were somewhat daunted by the idea, yet with a little patience and research we conquered.

Why Cook in Bulk?

Photo by: <a>hreg=http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Rklawton>Rklawton</a>

Time

As part of our every evolving strategy to become more productive with each minute we have, one of the main reasons we started cooking in bulk was to save time. Let’s look at a couple of ways we achieved this:

  • Prep time-The time spent preparing the food was cut down drastically. With everything already out, after that first meal is finished we figure we shaved almost 70% off the cooking time of the remaining meals.
  • Cooking surface ready-no waiting for your cooking area to heat up each time since it is already hot.
  • Only one clean up-enough said!
  • Portions already measured-we track everything by ounces, and this allows us to have everything measured and ready to eat.

Lets look at a simple example-our morning eggs. Normally, it takes around 14 minutes from start to finish to get our eggs ready to eat. That includes turning the stove on to heat up, getting the eggs out, separating the egg yolks from the whites and cook both sides. With everything out and ready, we remove the yolks from the next batch while the current eggs are cooking. Then it takes approximately 4 minutes to cook the second round and so on.

In the above example, normally cooking eggs each morning would have taken 98 minutes a week. Cooking in bulk we spend 14 minutes cooking the first batch and 24 minutes cooking the next six batches (6 days X 4 minutes) for total of 38 minutes. Now that is an extra hour a week that we earned to use any way we see fit. And that is just one item of one meal.

Save on Money

By watching for sales, using coupons, or a combination of the two you can save a considerable amount of money by purchasing in bulk. We once got Perdue boneless/skinless chicken breast for $0.79/lb when the average price was $2.49/lb.

Since your surface will already be heated, you will save money on electricity or gas by not having to heat from 0 degrees again. This is especially true for baking-in the winter months we usually bake for 4–5 hours each Sunday. The oven does not have to heat up for each meal and the radiant heat eases the strain on our mini-split.

Lastly, when you have meals ready to eat it makes it a lot easier to avoid ‘emergency’ fast food or deli. You can have a meal ready in the time it takes to heat it up, and you will know all the ingredients in it as well as how it was prepared.

When Should You Cook in Bulk?

If you are like we were and just a little hesitant about it, why not start slow? Just cook one extra meal while you are at the stove. Making breakfast? Go ahead and make tomorrow’s and put it in the fridge.

As a personal choice, we like Sundays. Our work schedules allow us time off and it allows us to have some family time in the kitchen. Our 13 year old daughter is learning how to cook, so it is good to have her around for company and to learn the process. It boils down to whenever you have time. We do not like to try to bulk cook unless we have at least a couple hours available to work with.

How to Cook in Bulk

The old adage ‘An ounce of preparation is better than a pound of regret’ holds true here. A few of the things you will want to have ready are:

  • A predetermined time. Know exactly when you are going to cook and for how long.
  • All the ingredients you need for the dish you are preparing.
  • Plenty of kitchen utensils such as measuring spoons/cups of various sizes.

Consider starting small. Like we mentioned just cooking one extra meal, how about just cooking one item? Eggs? Pancakes? Chicken? Just cook one thing and portion it out.

One item we bulk cook regularly is red beans and rice. We love spicy food-not only does it add flavor, but it boost your metabolism and immune system as well. So here is our recipe and process for cooking this dish:

  1. Gather 1lb bag of brown rice, 5 cans of red beans, 5 cans of diced tomatoes w/chilies. Set out measuring spoons and cups, zip lock containers, masking tap and a permanent marker.
  2. Start cooking the rice in a 4 quart pan. Usually takes around 50 minutes to one hour.
  3. While the rice is cooking open the cans of beans, tomatoes with chilies and set to the side.
  4. Prepare 10–12 Ziploc containers by removing lids and attaching tape.
  5. Once rice has finished cooking, measure out 3/4 cup into each container. (Note: you will have plenty of rice left over to use for other dishes.
  6. Measure 1/2 cup of red beans into each
  7. 1/4 cup of diced tomatoes
  8. Just a dash of sea salt to each.
  9. Place lids on and write the date with a permanent marker.
  10. Stack neatly in your freezer. We use a deep freeze. If you do not have one, consider it a must if you wish to bulk cook. You can get a fairly nice 5 cubic feet deep freeze for a fairly small price now days.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/megacia/

Photo by: Megacia

Items We Have Successfully Cooked in Bulk

  • Pinto beans and cornbread
  • Lasagna
  • Eggs
  • Pancakes
  • Soups of all kinds (except potato-it does not freeze well)
  • Quiche
  • Chicken
  • Stir-fry
  • Alfredo Noodles (with and without a meat included)

Storing Your Bounty

As we said, we prefer to freeze what we can. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Always date
  • Rotate your stock so you oldest meals are available first.
  • Check out this link for a list of average storage times for most foods.

Let us know if you try this recipe and how your bulk cooking experience goes! What is your favorite item to cook in bulk?  What challenges did you face? Thanks for stopping by, have a great day!

Benjamin-Franklin-U.S.-$100-billIf you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” -Ben Franklin

In your journey to gain control of your health and shed a few pounds you must plan your calorie intake. Here we are going to look at why we plan our meals in advance, how we plan them, and a few ways to make the process a little easier.

Why Plan Meals?

Just a quick list of a few reasons planning your meals makes sense:

  • You will know how many calories you are taking in. If you know your average expenditure of calories for a day, simple subtraction will let you see how long it will take to lose a pound (one pound = roughly 3000 calories for most people.)
  • It takes the guesswork out of what you are going eat. One less decision.
  • When you are on a plan, it is easier to say no to friends/coworkers when it comes to eating out or junk food.
  • It can prevent binge eating. In the past I was notorious for eating until I could barely move because I was unsure of when I was going to eat again. Now, I know exactly when my next meal will be.

How to Plan Your Meals

As with most items we discuss there are many ways to get your plan started. The first thing you will need to do is find out your normal daily calorie burn. You can find this by using any of the tools we have mentioned in other post here, or look at sparkpeople.com, myfitnesspal.com, or nutrition.gov. You will have to answer the normal height/weight questions as well as questions about your activity level.

Once you have that number down, then it is time to start tracking.

Pen and Paper

This is the most difficult way, but will work if it is your only option. Just write the date at the top of the page with your calorie allowance in the right hand column. On the left side, list your meals in order (we will cover this in just a minute) and your total calories for each meal. In the middle of the page you will write down what you actually eat and the amount of calories. Then it is just a matter of subtraction throughout the day.

Using a Spreadsheet

This works the same as pen and paper, but with the advantage that all of your addition/subtraction is completed for you.

Weight Loss Apps/Websites

This is our favorite way to keep track of everything. We use the MyFitnessPal app and love it. It has a huge searchable database of most foods, or you can use the built in barcode scanner to enter your items. Other tools that we have mentioned or that you may find will work, but we have found the MyFitnessPal apps and website to be the most consistent and user friendly.

One thing to keep in mind though, not all calories are created equal. Eating 1800 calories a day of junk food is not the same as eating quality veggies and protein. Be sure to watch your micro counts (calories, fats, cholesterol, sodium, etc.) and follow the guidelines recommended for you.

A Sample Day

This is what a day normally looks like for me:

  • Breakfast: 4–6 egg whites, 1 serving of whole oats, green tea
  • Snack 1: Protein (in the form of nuts or yogurt) and a banana
  • Lunch: 4–6 oz of either fish, chicken, or lean red meat and 1 cup of veggies with 3/4 cup of brown rice.
  • Snack 2: Usually 1oz of almonds and an apple or orange.
  • Dinner: Same choices as lunch, except without the rice.
  • Bedtime: Either 2 egg whites or 1 scoop Casein protein powder in water.  (The slow digesting protein in each will keep your metabolism up and your body burning calories while you sleep.)

Importance of Your Schedule

By eating every 2.5–3 hours you will raise your metabolism rate. This allows you to burn more calories doing everyday normal activities. It also prevents your body from trying to store fat since you are getting meals on a regular basis. You will be less likely to binge eat if you are on a plan and know that your next meal is only a couple hours away.

Now, a caveat. Allow yourself to cheat. I usually end up cheating around twice a week and still hit my goal of 1–2 pounds a week. The important thing is that if you cheat or mess up, get back on track the next meal. Not tomorrow, not Monday, the very next meal.

Final Thoughts

You can do all this planning yourself, you can look at free ready made meal plans from sites like bodybuilding.com, or you can hire personal trainer to create one for you. I will say that I never saw lasting success until I was on a solid meal plan.

What is your preferred method to track calories? Successes and Failures? We are always looking to learn, so please let us know in the comments below. Have a great day!

The Wonders of Water

Photo by: Davide Restivo

Photo by: Davide Restivo

Our bodies are slightly over 75% water. Let that sink in a minute–75%; for every one hundred pounds you weigh, 75 of it is nothing but water. It is amazing to me that this is one of the most underused aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Drinking the right amount of water has made a huge impact on my life all the way around, but more on that in a minute.

Dangers of Dehydration

Not having the proper amount of water to nourish our bodies can have major health consequences. Just a few of the items a person who is dehydrated may experience are:

  •  Not able to focus
  •  Dry skin
  •  Headache
  •  Constipation
  •  Dizziness or lightheaded
  •  Rapid heartbeat
  •  Low blood pressure
  •  Severe dehydration can cause delirium and/or unconsciousness

Back to my story-I look at that list and I see everything that I was experiencing just a couple of years ago. I could not seem to focus on anything, pounding headaches at least 3–4 times a week, skin so dry that it was cracking in places, and constipation problems (read able to move the bowels around once a week). My answer for all these ailments of course lay outside of my diet, mainly at my local pharmacy. I took an OTC pill or liquid for everything listed above except the alertness; for that I turned to coffee, drinking on average three pots a day by myself (little did I know at the time, coffee is a diuretic which causes your body to lose even more water).

As you already know if you have read our story, I was overweight, under productive, and just plain miserable most every day. When Angry Chick and I decided to make a change, the first thing we decided to focus on was our health. It was through this decision that we discovered the difference the correct amount of water can make.

Photo by:  Jenny Downing
We contacted a personal trainer (fitnesspoynters.com) and had a meal plan created to help us reach our ideal weight. Part of our plan (and most others as far as we can tell) was that we drink lots of water-working up to at least a gallon a day! I shrugged it off initially, and only done around a quart in the mornings with breakfast instead of my normal cup or two of coffee. After about a week of this I noticed that I started taking my coffee a little later in the morning-instead of being the first thing I went after it was now a couple hours after waking when I drank that first cup. Now, I am over a gallon of water a day, and as of this post on average I drink two cups of coffee a day; one around 10am and another shortly after 3pm.

Benefits of Water

From three pots of coffee a day down to two cups with an improvement in alertness and energy. That is enough to convince me that we made the right move. In case you need more, here is a list of the benefits attributed to proper hydration:
* Increased alertness
* Relief of joint pain
* Weight loss
* Better waste management
* Regulate body temperature

I have experienced all of the above (well, I didn’t exactly measure my temp to see if it was more stable, but the rest are on par). The pain in my knees went from a 8 out of ten down to about a 2. Angry Chick was able to get a full gallon on the first day on her meal plan. The result? She lost 4 lbs. In one day. That is how dehydrated she was and how much water her body was retaining. I lost 2.2 in one day just by doing a quart.

As with any health program, always seek medical advice first before starting a plan. With that out of the way, here is the best way we have found to get our gallon in each day.

    • Drink 16oz as soon as you wake up. I set a bottle on my nightstand each night and drink it first thing upon waking. It kick starts my alertness, helps me not hit snooze, and gets my body going for the day.
    • Drink another 16ozs with breakfast. (First quart down)
    • Drink 16ozs each work break (for our 8 hours shifts, that equates to 2 breaks-quart number 2 gone!)
    • Drink a quart with lunch.
    • 16ozs with dinner, and then another 16ozs a couple hours before bed to finish off a gallon.

You may have to adjust the times depending on bathroom availability and how your body processes water (i.e. you do not want to be up all night going to the rest room). I could not do it the first few weeks, but Angry Chick got it first day. Just do what you can, and work into it slowly if needed. If you are not already drinking lots of water, I guarantee you are going to see a difference.

On a side note-nothing else counts toward your water intake. Soda, tea, coffee, etc-it must be water for it to be added to your water intake. One way to keep up with your intake is with the MyFitnessPal app or web interface. Add me as a friend on there if you use it-my profile is WJ354.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Have you increased your water intake? What differences did you notice? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Introduction

Welcome to angryfatcouple.com. We are glad that you have decided to spend some of your valuable time with us today. This will be an introduction into the details of our site and what you can expect from us. Now, a little bit about who we are.

We are a husband and wife team with a teenage daughter. We are both in our mid-thirties and not happy with where we are in life. A plethora of bad decisions, accidents, and various job lay-offs got us here-mountains of debt, overweight, and [click to continue…]

Weight Loss Tools: MyFitnessPal

Weight Loss Tools: MyFitnessPal thumbnail

Homescreen

Can I make a confession? I hate to keep track of my meals. I detest a food journal. Counting calories exhausts me. Measuring food portions makes me feel restricted. Guess what? I have to get over it. I cannot eat whatever I want, whenever I want. This makes me ANGRY.

If I am going to be successful at this whole lifestyle change, I have to do things I do not like. [click to continue…]

Update:  We have included a link to the bread machine we use since you all asked so nicely :)

In the Beginning-A Gift is Given

 

About four years ago I answered my mom honestly when she asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Without hesitation, I said “a bread machine.” I had been reading all these great articles about [click to continue…]

Vitamins Galore

Just got loaded up for the week with our vitamins that the personal trainer recommended. Going to take some getting used to

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Start Your JourneyEveryone, us included, wants to jump into a new lifestyle without much of an action plan it seems. Twitter is inundated daily with new people who are #getfit #eatclean #exercise etc. initiates. In a lot of cases the next post is about how they enjoyed the pizza/beer/pretzels at the party. We all slip from time to time, but having a plan can drastically reduce the frequency as well as intensity of these goofs. Here is how we started.

1. Why do We Want to Change?

Everyone needs motivators-what are yours? Do you want to be healthy? Sexy? Part of a group? What would you tell someone your main reason for changing your lifestyle is?

Having a solid answer to these questions will help you push through the hard times (and there will be hard times when you just want to quit and go back to the way things used to be.)  If you are curious as to why we wanted to change, you can find our story here.

2. Where Are You At Currently?

[click to continue…]

I’m healthy, right?

As if I need another “reason” to lose weight: apparently this being fat business is giving me a belly ache.

I made a visit to my doctor the other day after several days of uncomfortable pain in my lower stomach. I figured I had a UTI. After some tests and questions and a rather, um, uncomfortable exam. I found out I was wrong. Now, I’m scheduled for an ultra sound in a week.

My doctor says “I think you have either ovarian cysts or fibroids.” Well, just like every other person out there with Internet access would do: I came home and started researching. Thanks webmd. Both cysts and fibroids can be brought on by being overweight. Ahhhhhh! Good thing I’ve decided to take this weight loss journey.

Just a few weeks ago I was thinking that just because I am a fat chick doesn’t necessarily mean I am unhealthy. I don’t have high blood pressure, no diabetes, no coronary heart disease, no joint pain, and overall I’m comfortable amd content with being who I am: the fat chick. WRONG! Obviously, there’s more health issues connected to this weight than just the “Red Flag,” issues. You know, one of the best quotes I’ve ever read was “Do your best until you know better. Then do better.” I’m dedicated to doing better. Are you?

Breakfast of Champions

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Two egg whites
Two whole eggs
1/4 cup medium salsa
1/2 cup whole oats with 1 tsp of Splenda
Green tea (not pictured ;]) or coffee

Better tasting and leaves you feeling better than a goofy egg mcnasty any day of the week.