Supper Swappers: The Six O'Clock Scramble Solved

How would your lifestyle change for the better if a healthy meal were ready when you return home from work? No more scrambling, improvising, takeout or clean up. How would you fill your freed-up time?

What if I you could accomplish this in a few hours per week and it would only require planning ONE meal?

Years ago I watched The Happy Movie and was awed by a 30-family commune in Denmark who ate together every night. They were happier because they had time to play and do homework with their kids instead of slaving in the kitchen. Plus, they enjoyed the nightly social gathering. They discovered an efficient, happy way to eat.

I've racked my brain trying to figure out how to replicate this in our independent living spaces and want to share the results so that you too can save time and money without compromising healthy eating. A year ago 2 of my friends and I started Supper Swap. Here's how it goes:

  • Each family (2 parents and a child) make SIX portions of food - roughly, a 9x13 pan or a main dish and a side. (We joke that we are cooking for the Duggars). This makes enough for each family to have TWO meals.
  • Whomever is inspired first sends a group text stating what she will make. Others work around that so there is variety.
  • We meet Monday evenings at 5 p.m. at a central location to swap.
  • If one person is out of town, they can either skip that week or can arrange to pick up and drop off at the other members' houses.

Every Monday night, my fridge is full of SIX home-cooked meals for the week.

Our group eats similarly. We are protein and veggie kind of people. It is OK to buy what is on sale, but we source as organic, local and whole as possible. Here's an example of a weekly "swap:"

  1. Teriyaki chicken with broccoli, rice and a garden salad
  2. Spaghetti squash lasagna with sauteed mushrooms
  3. Fish tacos with salsa, avocado, cilantro, cabbage, limes and corn tortillas

Can you tell we eat well? It's been an amazing variety of food. Dinner is exciting!

The social benefits are many. We have become like sisters. We've squabbled and worked through details and expectations. We have learned to be gracious with ourselves and others as some of the meals are flops. We joke about who is "the weakest link" that week (usually me). One member cooks from her secret family recipe book. Another member is a chef and makes creative, flavorful meals. Occasionally we have time to eat together or linger to socialize. I adore my swapper sisters. Happy first anniversary, ladies!

Sharing food is intimate and it makes us put forth our best effort. Sometimes we make enough to have extra and either freeze for later or share with a friend in need.

Did I mention it saves a tremendous amount of money? Not only can we craft our meals around what is in season and on sale, but when there is food in the fridge, we rarely eat out. Often we have enough food to pack for lunch the next day.

Now I have time at night to exercise, socialize, garden and do the things I love.

Are you convinced? Why not create your own permutation? Maybe you have a best neighbor and you can eat at each others' house once a week. Maybe you and your co-workers can lunch swap.

Here are tips to get started:

  1. Find a friend or two with similar diets and family size
  2. Ideally they are family, neighbors, co-workers in close proximity
  3. Craft the rules
  4. Set and commit to a trial...6 weeks minimum
  5. Always give your best
  6. Practice gratefulness and forgiveness
  7. Let the husbands lead the swap some weeks

How can I help you in your journey? Reach out and remember that we can meet and your insurance can pay.

Please share this post far and wide. Let's transform the way America does dinner.

Eat Well!

Esther Hansen, RD FtCollinsWeightLoss.Com esther@ftcollinsweightloss.com

How I Grocery Shop at Home

Grocery Shop Home Delivery Review

I used to dread grocery shopping on Saturdays or Sundays with all the other weekend warriors and have spent the last year trying a variety of shop at home programs in an effort to stay out of the stores.

Friends, I'm here to report that it is possible to drastically reduce or even eliminate trips to the grocery store! Read below for the pros and cons of each.

What ultimately works for my family is ordering from Door to Door Organics every other week (produce, dairy and bread), purchasing specialty items from Thrive Market (bath and body products, coconut milk, coconut oil, specialty salts and sugars, etc.) and making a Costco run (meat, cheese, nuts and oils) every 6-8 weeks.

The result? I spend less on impulse buys, eat 100% organic and non-GMO for the same price or less than I used to spend in the store. The best part is that I have time on the weekend to socialize with friends and family.

Call or e-mail me to for help figuring out a plan that fits your family.

Oh, by the way, I now accept United Healthcare and Poudre School District's EAP.

1. Thrive Market vs. Amazon Pantry (Thrive wins!) Thrive Market is an online market for shelf-stable health products. They have a yearly membership fee similar to Costco.

- Pros - Your first order is discounted plus free shipping Free shipping on future orders over $49 They often add free items into the cart $25 per friend referral program Non-profit program that helps bring health food access low SES demographics Prices are better than local health food stores Site is easy to navigate with multiple filters, i.e., "organic," "non-GMO" Minimalist, recyclable packaging to lower environmental impact

- Cons - Membership is $60 per year. Tip: I asked for a discount and they discounted 50%

Amazon Pantry is part of Amazon Prime but for food and household items. I am an Amazon fan, but not for household products. I find it difficult to locate the items with their search engine, their prices are extremely high and Prime free shipping doesn't extend to Pantry items.

Keep an eye out for Amazon Fresh which may come to Ft. Collins soon.

2. Door to Door Organics is a local company that is part CSA (community supported agriculture) part grocery store delivered to your door. They base the delivery on a box of organic, seasonal produce. You can customize your box or be adventurous and try something new. You add other groceries as needed.

- Pros - 100% organic Competitive prices (except for meat) Makes you eat more produce Excellent customer service Free delivery for purchases over $75 They offer Morning Fresh Dairy so you can combine these deliveries into one Enormous selection Eco-friendly, recyclable packaging Options for pre-made meals Many recipes to print and add ingredients to cart for simple planning Excellent packaging for food safety Pause anytime for vacations or to shop farmer's markets in the summer Recurring orders allow you to never run out of staples like eggs and bread

- Cons - Site confusing to navigate at first You can only shop from Friday through Sunday ONE delivery day option for Ft. Collins (Mondays)

3. Hello Fresh vs. Blue Apron (I didn't like either...) Hello Fresh and Blue Apron are dinner subscription sites. They send you a box of pre-portioned ingredients and recipes. You cook and eat. Blue Apron was better but expensive. If you are still interested, I can e-mail you a coupon for $40 off your first box.

- Pros - You don't have to plan dinner or worry about missing ingredients Cheaper than a personal chef

- Cons - Food safety - the boxes are shipped long distances and the meat arrived at unsafe temps Environmental impact w/excess packaging Low quality ingredients, non-organic Confusing, time-consuming recipes You still have to purchase breakfast and lunch foods

4. King Soopers Home Shop vs. Wal-Mart Home Delivery (King Soopers wins!) Simply order online and have pick up curb-side ($5) or have delivered to your home ($10).

- Pros - Order online at your convenience Both sites easy to navigate Everything available in the store is available for delivery You can use coupons and apps to get the same in-store savings King Soopers has some of the best local produce available in our area Wal-Mart services communities on the outskirts of town Wal-Mart delivery is cheaper ($5-$7)

- Cons - I'm not a fan of the quality or selection of Wal-Mart's produce or foods Someone else is picking out your produce

LAST BUT NOT LEAST...

5. Wunderjuice. I've always recommended Wunderjuice for local, organic vegetable juices, nut milks and bone broth delivered to your home or office for free. Now they offer clean, whole food comfort foods such as pot pies, meatballs, quick breads (all gluten-free and dairy free). This is much cheaper than a personal chef, there is no long-term commitment and it is DELICIOUS.

In summary...think outside the box! Try what works for your family. Being healthy doesn't have to be costly or time consuming. However, it ALL comes down to planning. No matter the course you choose, pre-planning is pivotal for staying on course.

To optimal health Esther Hansen, RDN 970-430-5489 esther@ftcollinsweightloss.com

What Vietnam Taught Us About Breaking Bad Habits

A dear client of mine shared this article.  He was reminded that changing environment is a critical piece of changing behavior.  He stopped eating at certain restaurants after noticing that all the people there were grossly overweight.  If he wanted to lose weight, he would need to mimic the behaviors of thin people.


http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/01/02/144431794/what-vietnam-taught-us-about-breaking-bad-habits?utm_source=npr_email_a_friend&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20150109&utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_term= 

Patent Conversations about Eating and Health

I see countless adults who are still struggling with dieting and messages that they received as children.  Clients who were enrolled in Weight Watchers at the age of 12!  Believe me, even though the parents are well-meaning, it scars for life and is counterproductive.  Now there is scientific proof from JAMA:

http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1700514

Whether your child or you are struggling with a healthy relationship with food, call me and we will talk about productive ways to talk to your child and yourself about food and weight.  

How to: Change Your Life

Isn't it inspiring seeing people reject gimmicky crash diets in lieu of honest, hard work? Changing your life isn't easy but it's worth it!  From an article I found in Elle (link below - a must-read):  

"So, I promised myself two things:
1. I would never look back, only forward.
2. I had to live kindly. For me, living kindly meant moving away from self-shaming, celebrating all goals and milestones no matter how small and focusing on the positive in every situation. There would be no diet, no fads and no quick fixes."

"My approach to nutrition is simple — the less processed, the better. I try to choose foods in their most pure form. Canned or packaged typically equates to added and unecessary sodium and sugar, which can mean cankles and headaches if I consume too much of either. Overall, I don’t follow a true diet or meal plan but I have loosely adopted Meatless Mondays and go raw a few meals a week, which always make me feel lighter. Once or twice a month, or when I travel and want to try something new, I indulge moderately. But I only indulge on really good things. Like, a slice of pizza in Italy, wine tasting in Napa Valley or a birthday dinner with friends. Be picky — it’s your body!"

You go, girl!

http://camillestyles.com/life-2/how-to-change-your-life/

 

Letter to Future Client

Dear Mary,

It was great to hear from you today and reconnect. I remember the day I first met you.  My heart broke to see you struggling to lose weight while maintaining sanity and self-respect.  You had tried every diet in existence and had lost weight only to gain it back.  You felt like a failure and that seeped over into every other aspect of your life, even though, from the outside looking in, you were - and are - a fabulous success.  Meeting with me was your last resort.  A hundred light bulbs went off when I realized at that moment that I could help you re-learn how to eat.  Together we created your individual nutritious diet that honored your body and that enabled you to reach and sustain your natural weight.  I can’t believe it has already been 5 years and that you’ve maintained your natural weight.  You are a stunning, graceful, powerful woman! You’re the reason I can’t wait to jump out of bed and get to work every morning.

Positive Results

I called my HOA today for the umpteenth time to try to get them to fix the concrete on my front doorstep.  Instead of being demanding, I decided to be endearing and grateful. Lo and behold – I got what I asked for and more!  Epiphany – if treating people well gets immediate, positive results why not extend the same kindness to ourselves in our quest for better health through nutrition and exercise?