January is winding down and, at the risk of wishing time away, we’re one month closer to warmer temps here in Wisconsin. I’m still dealing with the extra pounds that started creeping up last fall and seem to have gotten a little too comfortable. While January is usually the month for new beginnings and fresh starts, mine was filled with skipped trips to the gym and a nasty cold that wouldn’t quit. Fortunately, any day can be an opportunity to hit the reset button, and February is the perfect time to try a new challenge. Here at TOPS, we’re excited to launch our new 28-Day Meal Planner for members! You can kick start (or restart) your healthy lifestyle this February with our 28-Day Meal Plan Challenge. Members can check out week one of the plan by visiting the Members Area of tops.org and clicking the Healthy Eating & Recipes page. Before you check out the plan, here are some important things to know.
You will have to make time to plan meals. Since all of the meals include whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, plan to spend anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour each week on meal prep. While an hour may seem like a long time, think of it like this: it’s only 0.6% of your week!
The plan is flexible. While we provide suggestions for daily meals and snacks, we know that everyone has different tastes, preferences and maybe even foods they can’t eat. Don’t like, or can’t have, a certain food listed? Exchange any food with something you do like or can have!
You will see low-fat items. This doesn’t mean we are stuck in the 1990s era of low-fat everything. It simply means that we chose lower-fat versions of yogurts, milks and proteins to help save on calories. If you prefer the fuller-fat option of yogurt, for example, go ahead and choose that. Just remember that this will change the nutrition analysis and number of fat exchanges.
You don’t have to know the Food Exchange System. Each day includes food exchanges for all of the meals and snacks, but you don’t have to be a dedicated user of the exchange system to follow the plan. If you would like to get more familiar with food exchanges, or just need a little help with portion control, this can be a great place to start.
Are you ready to kick off your February with the 28-Day Meal Plan Challenge? Be sure to use the hashtags #28DayMealPlanChallenge and/or #TOPS28 in your social media posts and send us your recipe photos, progress updates, feedback and more! Bring it on, February. We’re ready.