I have been a long-time fan of Lindsay Nixon's Happy Herbivore blog for years and follow it frequently. I knew she had developed many great cookbooks, many that I own, and most recently she created her meal plans, called Meal Mentor. Since I have my own blog creating recipes I figured that I didn't need a meal plan. But lately life has been getting a little busy around here and I figured it may be a great time to try out her meal plan, just to save me some time on having to plan for my own meals.
So I signed up, knowing I could cancel anytime when things settled down for me, and return to doing my own thing. But after the first week of using Lindsay's plan I couldn't imagine going back to life without it. Now one month after using the plans I am leaner, have more free time, and am saving a ton at the grocery store! My mine is blown and I can't believe I didn't do this sooner. Here are just a few things I love about my meal plans:
It's hard to pick the thing I love most about the Happy Herbivore Meal Mentor Meal Plans.
No it's not. I am getting leaner than ever, something I was stuck in rut with before the meal plans, and that is BY FAR my favorite part. But man is there ever so much more to love.
I adore that on Wednesday mornings I wake up, check my email and poof! Like magic my meals, shopping list and recipes are waiting for me in my inbox! I just save the file to google docs, check the shopping list for any ingredients I don't have on hand and head off to the store.
Then I spend one day (usually Sunday) cooking all the food for the week. This usually takes a few hours (2-3) but I really enjoy it. I put on some music, get my kitchen really messy, clean and restock the fridge, and then cleanup the kitchen. It's like magic! No dirtying of the kitchen (and all the pots and pans) each night of the week. We simply reheat the food from the fridge and wash up the storage container and our two plates. Easy peasy.
This has been really life changing for me. I mean, yes I have my own recipe blog and love cooking and creating recipes, but in all honesty sometimes whether you cook for a blog, or just for your family, writers block (or cook's block) is bound to strike. I still love cooking and creating but being Michelangelo in my kitchen ever night is mentally exhausting. My dad always says that he never minds cooking, but hates having to decide what to make, and I understand where he is coming from. Sometime I love being creative and recipe developing, and other times my brain hurts, I can't think of a thing to make (believe it or not) and I am already hungry. You can see why the genius of having this meal plan all ready to go seems like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
This plan is also teaching me more about cooking and eating. Yes, I can cook with the best of them but the genius of this plan is that it has taught me to get maximum flavor in the simplest way. Lindsay has taught me to un-complicate cooking. I still love a good 'not for beginners' recipe now and again, but I am coming to appreciate that on a daily basis the Happy Herbivore way is a great way to go! Lindsay primarily uses ingredients that can be found in most grocery stores, and doesn't require a trip to a health food or speciality store. She also uses whole foods, no-oil, and is 100% plant based.
I am saving money with this plan! Although the plan costs $18.99 a month, I save at least that much by not buying anything at the store that will not be used this week. My grocery bills are almost half what they used to be! Some weeks are more than others when I am out pricier staples like Organic Low Sodium Tamari that I like to buy in large quantities, but even the weeks where I stock up on staples doesn't cost as much as my old shopping ways did! With my wells stocked kitchen, I only spent about $35 one week following the meal plan! Most weeks for me average closer to $50ish, and it's only the first month! As I continue to learn Lindsay's ways of keeping my freezer stocked with pre-cooked beans, I save even more on never buying the canned versions.
It has solved my workout scheduling conflict. We work out in the evenings after my husband gets home from work. This works great for us except it used to cause us to return home from the gym hungry as ever and tired. Not the most motivating time to want to cook dinner. Especially if you have to think up something on the spot. The meal plans make this simple, since the food is all cooked! These days we come home, open the fridge and grab the container that appeals to us most. This keeps us eating the right food and in the right amount (since it's planned and cooked in only the right portions). It also makes lunches an easy thing to grab even though our lunch time schedules can vary a lot! Doesn't matter when lunch time falls if the food is always ready to go!
We are finally getting the lean bodies we want! Lindsay shared a story recently about how she had difficulty losing her last pounds after she went plant based for many reasons that she has since discovered and corrected. You can read her beautifully honest article HERE. She explains that one of her primary realizations was that she was an overeater. Even as a plant-based eater she ate too much. I had a similar revelation, only mine was that I was eating too much high-fat plant food. I am not talking about avocados and nuts here (although I used to snack on almonds daily!). I am talking about, eating great low-fat plant food and then getting into a bind about what to make for dinner and eating chips and vegan queso instead of a real meal. Tortilla chips (and anything that goes on them or with them) was my real weakness. I would go to a party and eat high fat junk foods because they were some of the only plant based stuff there. Potato chips or cheese cubes? Not really a healthy choice either way, but I would go with the chips since they were at least plant based. Lindsay's blog, along with the meal plans, has made me stick to eating very low fat. No oily chips all the time. And whudda ya know! My husband and I are getting lean! We eat plenty food, it all tastes delicious and we never have to worry about what our next meal will be, so we don't deviate from low-fat plant foods. This is a surprising development for me since I purchased the meal plans for convenience more than anything and have been so please to finally realize what was hoping me back from the body that I wanted! I cannot express how deeply grateful I am to Lindsay for that! I also can't believe how much junk was 'sneaking' into my diet, but that's a blog post for another time.
The food is gooooooood! I will admit, since Lindsay's cooking style is more laid back than mine I had apparently developed a mindset (that I didn't know I had) that super simple ingredients would taste boring. Man, was I wrong! ALL of these recipes are great, even the ones that have only a few ingredients! In fact my tastebuds have gone places lately that I hadn't taken them in so long, and with much less kitchen effort! I like that the recipes span from flavors from around the world. This makes for never a dull, or redundant taste. It's always interesting. Even the basics, like burgers, are so good! In fact Linday's recipe for burgers are so simple and are still the best of all the long, complicated veggie burger patties I have made from other's recipes. She's proves again that simple is best!
So thats pretty much it. I love the meal plans so much and am so glad that I tried them out and I hope you do too! Yes, I still deviate from the plan now and again and create my own dish in it's place or alter the recipes from the plan with veggies I have on hand, but overall my kitchen, body and time are all in a better place thanks to Lindsay and her team!
Now go and do yourself a favor and get your own meal plan subscription! Give it a try for a month and you won't regret it!