P90X Nutrition: Chopping Parties!

10 Apr

One of the biggest success factors with completing the P90X nutrition guide (or really any form of healthy eating) is planning ahead. Adam and I have found this vital in our P90X journey, and I highly, highly doubt we would’ve been as successful if we didn’t figure out our food ahead of time.  Prior to starting P90X I had attempted to plan ahead with healthy food.  This translated to plenty of 100 calorie packs, plenty of fruit (and some vegetables), and trying to keep my fridge stocked.  A couple things I noticed when using this version of planning (i.e. going to the grocery store enough to have a decently stocked fridge):

  •  I ate way too much processed food.  Sure I had some fresh stuff in my fridge, but that ‘fresh stuff’ required so much effort.  Sometimes when I get home from work I just want to turn my brain off and would often choose cheese and crackers over washing and cutting some fresh veggies.  And by sometimes picking the effortless option, I mean every single time I would pick it.
  • I had no idea how much I was eating.  Sure I was choosing to eat grapes, strawberries, or low fat cheese…but just how much?  Absolutely no clue.  Not exactly a balanced diet if you have no idea how much of things you’re eating.  Since getting a food scale, I’ve been amazed at actual serving sizes!
  • A lot of food went to waste.  “Oh a big bag of spinach – that will be perfect this week!”  The amount of times I thought this and then threw said bag of spinach in the trash after not eating it was numerous.  It’s amazing how easy it is for things to get trapped behind other things in the fridge.  Sometimes you just forget what you have.  Before planning and portioning my food I wasted so much.  Not okay.

Solution: Chopping Parties

Adam and I have combatted a lot of these problems with what we have lovingly coined “Chopping Parties.”  Essentially these ‘parties’ consist of washing, portioning, planning, and yes, chopping, all of our fruit, veggies, nuts, cheese, and some meats.  Typically these chopping parties take place either the day we make a big grocery run or the day after, depending on our schedules.  Taking the time on a Saturday or Sunday (or sometimes Monday) to put all of our food into serving sizes means that the rest of the week is just grab and go.  Yes – it’s pretty much that simple.  I can’t tell you how much this has made my life easier.  Now that I have chopping parties I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to my old ways (at least I hope I don’t)!

Before we started portioning everything the idea of packing my lunch every day seemed crazy.  Sure I could throw something together most days, but having a nutritionally sound lunch daily packed by moi?  Turns out it wasn’t as hard as I imagined.  Planning ahead has greatly reduced our stress with following the nutrition guide and increased our success of sticking with it.

The Steps and Tips to a Successful Chopping Party!

  1. Take inventory and make a list.
    • Go through the fridge, pantry, and freezer to see what you already have and what you need.  If you’re just starting out on the road to healthy eating with P90X, consult the nutrition guide.  There’s a great list of food per phase that’s an awesome starting point.  It is crucial to have a plan before going into the grocery store.  This habit alone has really changed the way I look at grocery shopping and the time spent there.  Now it isn’t a place to look (okay meander) for food I might want, it is a place to get things I know I need.  Big difference.  Here’s a typical list for us:

      grocery

      Typical list – split between Costco and grocery

  2. Go to the store!
    • With the list in hand, we head to the store to start collecting and crossing things off.  Since starting P90X we actually joined Costco, so our trips involve picking up big items in bulk (fruit, meat, nuts, veggies) and right afterwards running to a smaller grocery store for things we don’t need 20 lbs of at a time. For us, Costco has been a big time saver.  We typically go twice a month and the grocery store once a week.  When we first started shopping this way our runs took a bit of time, but now that this is our new normal, we split up and can get through things very quickly.
      IMG_3641

      My new favorite wonderland!

      IMG_3640

      Cart full of healthy goodness.

      IMG_3642

      Adam loves Costco!

  3. Plan the chopping party.
    • Whenever possible we like to have a chopping party right after we shop.  The main reason is to get it out of the way and done.  Another reason is that it ensures all 20lbs of fresh foods get into more air tight containers sooner.  We’ve bought fruit before and had it go bad in just a day or two due to exposure to air.  Putting things in tupperware really seems to increase the longevity of our food.  This past weekend, we chopped the day after shopping and it worked out just great.  It’s really important to pick a specific time the party will happen because it’s soooo easy to say “I already have the food – we can chop later” and pretty soon food starts going bad, and you’re not eating it.  You might think the hard part is over once you’re done shopping, but it’s crucial to remember that portioning/chopping is where the money is at!  Must chop after shopping!
  4. Gather the tools.
    • Before we begin chopping we collect the following:
      • Everything we want to chop or portion.  The fruit from the shelf, nuts from the pantry, turkey slices from the deli drawer in the fridge.
      • Food scale.  This little guy was a game changer and a big part of our chopping parties.  See more thoughts on food scales here.
      • Knives, cutting boards, bowls
      • Tupperware, ziploc baggies, containers
      • Computer with TV episode ready to play

        table

        All the tools and supplies ready.

  5. Push play and get chopping!
    • Adam and I use our chopping parties as a way to catch up on TV episodes.  We don’t watch much TV (I don’t have cable), so we turn chopping parties into something fun for us.  While we slice and dice we relax and watch TV.  The whole process is oddly calming.  Sometimes we’ve used the parties as a chance to chat and catch up if we’ve had a busy week and we’ve even had to do parties alone (gasp!).  I’ve always used solo chop parties to either watch TV or zone out and listen to music.  Sometimes it is nice to be alone with your thoughts.

      IMG_3667

      I love chopping parties!

  6. Measure, chop, and weigh.
    • The whole point of the party is to end up with individualized portions of food to facilitate easy grab and go lunch/dinner making.  I use a nutrition database online to look up calories/grams to make sure my servings are correct.  These are the typical things we create:
      • 1 serving size of raw carrots/sweet peas mix (50 calories worth – around 150 g)
      • 1 serving size of berries (blackberries, strawberries, blueberries etc).  I normally have different mixes pre-made for variety – straw/blue or just black alone etc. (100 calories worth – each berry is different..somewhere between 150-300 g)
      • 1 serving size of turkey or chicken.  Sandwich making is super easy now.  We use the Boar’s Head blazing buffalo chicken from the deli and it’s amazing! (100 calories worth – around 3 oz.)
      • 1 serving size of raw almonds (100 calories worth – around 16-17 almonds)
      • 1 serving size of peppers (50 calories worth – a whole pepper!)
      • 1 serving size of arugula or spinach (just dump it out and instant salad!)
      • 1 serving size of sliced cheese (depends on the cheese – but 120 calories worth)
  7. Put everything away and marvel at your masterpiece.  After we’re done chopping we usually feel really accomplished, but also thrilled we don’t have to do much meal prep the rest of the week.  It’s a very liberating feeling.  It also takes my fridge from this:
    fridge

    Before: lots of food but not easy to grab and go.

    fruit

    After: organized and ready for the week!

To Sum it Up

Chopping parties take time, effort, and planning – no denying that.  But front loading the work involved with healthy eating means that we have to be intense about it for just a couple hours a week.  It makes it so easy to say yes to that healthy dinner of a turkey sandwich and fruit instead of my easy white-cheddar-cheese-it-dinners (yes, those used to happen…regularly).

Happy chopping!

-Kelly

How do you plan for healthy eating?  How do you save yourself time while managing a balanced diet?

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8 Responses to “P90X Nutrition: Chopping Parties!”

  1. rachelbulman April 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    Great idea!! We have a food prep day too. Love the chopping party!!

    • racesrepsramblings April 15, 2013 at 9:32 am #

      Thanks Rachel! It is a lot of fun – or at least we have tricked ourselves into thinking it’s fun :) Glad to hear I’m not the only one!

  2. boltingbutterfly April 15, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    I love this idea! I hate when food goes to waste so my fiance and I will definetly be doing this when we move in together next month.

    • racesrepsramblings April 15, 2013 at 9:33 am #

      Thanks! I would agree – wasted food is the worst. This preparation really helps me with that. I hope you have fun with your first chopping party, let me know how it goes!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. P90X: Overcoming Nutritional Speed Bumps | Races, Reps, and Ramblings - April 16, 2013

    […] very easy to fall right back into eating well because of the habits I have formed.  Thanks to our chopping parties and healthy food in the fridge I could jump back on the healthy bus without a lot of stress or […]

  2. ChaLean Extreme Prep | Races, Reps, and Ramblings - July 29, 2013

    […] out my fridge, made a list, and tackled Target.  I broke my cardinal rule of always throw a chopping party immediately – but with my restful-sleep-on-a-plane night, I cut myself some slack.  The […]

  3. Sometimes All You Need is a Break | Races, Reps, and Ramblings - November 6, 2013

    […] week I ‘started’ P90X strong and I’m feeling great about it.  I got my chopping party in on Sunday and have my food ready for the week (YUM!  I forgot how much I enjoyed eating by […]

  4. The End of 2013 | Races, Reps, and Ramblings - December 31, 2013

    […] Costa Rica!! Adam and I took an awesome trip together and had a blast.  I ran my first 15K and we kept powering through P90X. […]

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