Healthy Living with Jilisa Ghareeb: Meal Plan and Prep Madness

What is one thing that you must do daily in order to survive?  What is the one other thing that you must do (maybe) daily, weekly and/or monthly in order to do the one daily thing?  The first answer is EAT; the second answer is GROCERY SHOP.  I do not like it; in fact, I loathe grocery shopping. The reason, because to shop I need to have a list and to make a list, I need to create a menu.  Why do the people that live with me need to eat every day?

I struggle with meal planning because the food I like to eat is not exactly the food my family likes to eat.  My husband has come a long way from when I met him, which is amazing because when we met his fridge and cupboards were every kids dream.   And although I try my hardest with my kids, they are both strong willed (just like their Mama) and usually refuse most foods.  I have a dream that someday they will both be foodies and love everything.  Please tell me that is possible! Anyway, creating a menu every week feels like a monotonous task, but I do it because again these people need to eat.

What happens when you create a menu? Do you seek out different recipes on Pinterest? Maybe pull that good ol’cookbook off the shelf.  Honestly, I go online a lot more than I use a cookbook, but I will pull those out for some good classic recipes.  Here are 5 things you could do to spice things up a bit.

  1. Ask your kiddos to plan a couple of the meals (and they are to pick something different than pizza, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets). They will need to pick all the components of the meal and check to make sure you have all the ingredients.  Then on the night you have that meal, they must help cook it.
  2. Ask your spouse or partner to plan a meal and cook it. Or just ask them what they would like! I very rarely ask my husband what he would like…mostly because he would say tacos, nachos, or burritos.
  3. Type the ingredients that you have online and see what comes up. You might be surprised!
  4. Make one night no meat! Yes, I just said that, and I promise you will be ok. If you are mainly a meat eat, you will be incredibly surprised at the delicious meals that you can make without it.
  5. Pick a new ingredient (maybe a new veggie) and go back online to see what you can make with it.

Meal planning/menu creating can be exhausting. But if you are living in a house with other people, get them involved.  This should be a family affair, after all they are the ones that keep asking for food.

After you create the menu the next thing is going through the cupboards, fridge, and freezer to see what you need to buy at the store.  PRO TIP: if you are putting something on your list that you know you use often do not just buy one, but 2 or 3.  This is a great way to create a stocked pantry (so you do not have to go to the store as often and who does not like that)! Now that you have your list, you are off to the store.

The grocery store is a trap for all the things you have to buy that you did not know you needed…especially when you are hungry!  My 5 tips for the store are as follows.

  1. Never go hungry!
  2. Make a list, bring your list, and stick to your list!
  3. Shop as much as you can in produce section.
  4. Never go hungry! (yes, I said it twice)
  5. Stay away from aisles 3-7 (or whatever your middle aisles are). You know what I am talking about, the aisles where all the pop, cookies and chips are.

I must admit that I have broken all these tips and that is exactly why I am telling you to follow them. When I am hungry, I tend to shop those middle aisles and it is not until the next day that I figure out what happened.  I do believe that you should try with all your might to put as many whole foods as possible in your cart.  If you are changing your nutrition from mostly processed foods, this is going to be hard.  The grocery store might be a trigger for you.  If it is, I suggest that you do online shopping and until you believe you can get through the store without buying the foods you are trying to cut back on, you opt for delivery or pickup.

What happens when you get home from the grocery store can completely make or break the whole menu plan.  The biggest thing that you should do is start meal prep for the week.  Because I can guarantee that come 5:30 on Tuesday you are not going to want to try that new recipe because you need to peel and cut carrots or slice up your steak.  Put the groceries away, make sure the counters are clean and start prepping.  Cut the veggies up not only for your meals, but for your healthy snacks.  Make the rice now so you do not have to on Thursday. Peel the potatoes, cut them up, put in an airtight container and cover with cold water for tomorrow night.  Anything you can do now that will put you 1, 2, 10 steps ahead.  If you are following a nutrition plan to help you lose weight, heal your gut or you are trying to be healthier, prepping is going to be tone of the major keys to your success.

A great dish that you can prep ahead of time and have ready for lunch all week are Lettuce Boats.

Your choice of meat.  I like chicken shredded or diced.
Any other spices like.
Lettuce (romaine works great)
Cherry tomatoes
Whole grain mustard (optional)

Mash avocado in a bowl with salt, cumin, and any other spice you like. Mix in onion and chicken.  You are using the avocado like you use mayo in chicken salad or tuna.  Lay out your lettuce. Romaine is great because it is shaped like a boat.  Pile in the chicken salad. Top with cherry tomatoes and whole grain mustard.  Enjoy!!

When you are prepping, mix the chicken salad, chop the cherry tomatoes, and pull apart the lettuce.  Store in separate containers until ready to assemble.

The move to try this month is Power Knees.  You start in a split stance with your arms held at shoulder height.  As you bring the knee up on the leg that is back, you bring your arms down so that your hands meet your knees.  You should be meeting in the middle at your core. Your core should be contracting. Return to start position.  You can keep your speed at a walk, or you can move up to a run.  If you are a beginner try for 15 seconds per side. If you are intermediate, try for 30 seconds per side. If you are advanced, try for 1 minute per side.   Give it a try and let me know how you did!

Jilisa Ghareeb has been a Beachbody coach for 5 years.  Her favorite part of being involved with fitness and nutrition is watching her clients change and open up a whole new world.  As a coach she, is able to help others by introducing them to a change that is often scary, intimidating, and full of “what ifs” to an encouraging and inspirational lifestyle full of “I cans”. She uses her own story to show others that everything is possible with hard work and determination.  If you’re interested in reaching out to Jilisa for more information you can contact her via email ([email protected]), on Instagram ( or Facebook (

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