#1: Pre-prep Your Salad Veggies
The simple act of peeling, cutting, and chopping the various toppings for your salad and storing them in separate containers can make assembling your salad so much quicker. This simple Bright Line Eating hack also gives you the flexibility to begin viewing “salad toppings” as the category so you can use whatever toppings are available rather than being tied to a specific quantity for each individual topping. Simply write “salad toppings” in your food journal rather than each specific topping.
Take this one step further and consider using the Mason Jar salad method to prepare all of your salads days in advance. Check out this video from the DIY Couple on how they prep their Mason Jar salads.
#2: Go European
One of the challenges that Bright Line Eating newbies face is adjusting to the substantial quantify of salad you eat with dinner. And, if like most Americans, you eat your salad first, then your other food may be quite cold before you get to it.
So instead, try going European. Apparently in some European countries, like France and Italy, it is more common to eat your salad after finishing your main course. I learned to make this adjustment soon after starting Bright Line Eating. Now I eat my salad after the main course every night and I am able to enjoy my hot food while it’s hot!
#3: Warm that Plate
If you just don’t like the idea of eating your salad last, try a different Bright Line Eating hack. Heat your plate before adding your hot food to it. There are a variety of ways you could do this –see if your dishwasher has a hot plate setting, purchase a plate warmer or keep your food warm in the oven before weighing and plating. A warm plate becomes a nice base to help your hot food stay hot longer.
#4: Cook then Combine
This Bright Line Eating hack is one I wish I had thought of earlier. Weighing food is a bright line, and trying to weigh different foods that are cooked together can be tedious. So, cook your protein separate from your veggies and combine them into your bowl when weighing your food. This hack is particularly useful for meals like stir-fry or tomato sauce with meat. Then after dinner you can either store leftovers separately or weigh them out and mix them together into individual portion sizes. This will make for an easy grab and go lunch the next day.
#5: Pre-measure Oatmeal Toppings in Snack Sized Baggies
Oatmeal with toppings can be delicious! But the pulling out of everything adds quite a bit of time each morning. This hack makes breakfast a grab and go affair. Pre-measure into baggies all the toppings you enjoy – if some of your toppings are frozen (like frozen blueberries) you can store these in the freezer. Then at breakfast, simply measure out your oatmeal, dump the pre-measured bag of toppings, mix and enjoy!
#6: Have a Meal in Mind that Doesn’t Require Weighing
Occasionally you may need to be able to manage a meal without a scale. My wife has a simple breakfast that doesn’t require a scale – 6 Triscuits, 2 fried eggs, and 1 banana. Simply having this has made overnight stays – both at hotels and in homes – much easier to gracefully maneuver. Bonus: trade the fried eggs for hard boiled eggs and you now have a portable breakfast.
#7: Keep Your Scale on the Counter
Ease of access will increase actual use. The more steps it takes to put something away or to take something out, the less likely it will be consistently used. But don’t just leave your scale out because then it can become clutter. Rather, find it a home where it can be easily grabbed and put back. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. We keep ours upright in a small basket next to where we prep food.
#8: Rearrange Cupboards for Easy Access to Plates
This Bright Line Eating hack is in the same vein as #7. Rearrange your kitchen cabinets so larger bowls, plates and serving dishes are on higher shelves and your smaller bowls and plates are on lower shelves. As you get some BLE food prep under your belt, tweak this if you need you. You might find that you use the larger bowls more often than the smaller ones and need to swap their placement. However you do it, keeping the dishes you eat off of easiest to grab or put away is the key.
#9: Utilize your Instant Pot’s Delayed Start
This is my personal favorite Bright Line Eating hack, and a fantastic way to start the day! If you have an Instant Pot, before you go to bed, prep your oatmeal or hot cereal and set the delay start timer. Voila! ‘Instant’ oatmeal when you get up. You can do the same for dinner by assembling all the ingredients into the Instant Pot in the morning (you can toss in some ice cubes to keep it cold through the day or use frozen meat) and have dinner instantly ready on time. If you have kids at home, this flips that 4:00 hour from one of frenzied panic about dinner to something more relaxed and focused on homework or carpool.
#10: Understand not all Lettuce Weighs the Same
Iceberg and Romaine are much heavier than mixed greens, so if you want a larger salad as a base for a meal than choose the lighter lettuce, but if you want a smaller salad, then choose a heavier lettuce. This also helps you figure out how much to buy. While an ounce is still an ounce, it might take 2 ounces of mixed greens to match the volume of 6 ounces of romaine.
#11: Keep Your Recipes Simple
I cannot stress this enough: The easier you keep your recipes (especially in the beginning) the more likely you are to keep your bright lines and lose weight.
So keep it simple and find shortcuts when you can. For example, two or three times a week we just take some meat (chicken, beef or pork) and throw it in the Instant Pot with some seasoning and some veggies. This simple formula allows us to build a meal around a cut of meat we have on hand or whatever is on sale. And most of the time we don’t even need to follow a recipe. Easy peasy.
#12: Bright Lines are More Important than the Scale
I cannot stress this enough: The victory of Bright Line Eating occurs in your brain and not on the scale. Yes, you can lose a life changing amount of weight. But the true prize is freedom from food addiction. So on the days your scale goes up instead of down, remind yourself that the true goal is to keep your lines bright. Better a week of bright lines with no weight loss than a week of weight loss with no bright lines.
#13: Avoid the Office Refrigerator
While you’re cravings for not my food (NMFs) are still intense, you may want to avoid the office refrigerator. Packing your lunch in a thermal lunch bag with an ice pack will let you keep your lunch at your workspace or at your desk without concern of spoilage. By keeping your food out of the community refrigerator you can avoid seeing everyone else’s NMF. If you need to heat something up or still eat in a common area, that’s fine. This can still help you keep your eyes on your own plate and minimize the stress of NMF.
#14: Take pictures along the way to track your progress
Think of this as a story – you would never read only the first and last chapters of a book, would you? No, of course not. The story is primarily in the chapters in the middle. As you live your Bright Line Eating story, absolutely take Before and After pics (and make sure you do both full body and close-up of your face). But get plenty of other photos along the way. When participating at events where photos are being taken, don’t purposely avoid the camera or hide behind people. You will soon appreciate the story that the “middle chapter photos” will tell.
#15: Adjust Your Grocery Shopping Frequency
If you are used to shopping once a week, you may want to readjust your habits. This Bright Line Eating hack might seem like a no brainer for some, but it can catch others off guard. The volume of produce consumed on BLE simply does not allow for stocking up on produce once a week. Staples can still be shopped weekly, but plan to shop for produce 2-3 times a week. By knowing in advance when you will shop, you can minimize waste and ensure you always have the food on hand when you need it.
We were once a week shoppers for years and didn’t eat a lot of produce before Bright Line Eating. We wasted a lot of money on produce early on because we just kept to our weekly shopping habit as usual. Now we spend less and enjoy fresher food.
#16: Create a Staples List
A master list of staples you use each week can make planning your grocery list much easier. A quick comparison to the inventory in your pantry can make ensuring you have everything you need a snap! This may also sound like a no brainer, but remember, you are likely changing years of engrained shopping habits. It is easier than you realize to forget to restock your new favorite Bright Line Eating condiment or salad dressing.
Bonus Tip: If you use a meal planning program (like Plan to Eat), create a recipe called “Weekly Staples” and populate the ingredients list with these items. When you drag it over to the beginning of the week this will add everything to the shopping list and you can just delete the items you have no need to purchase.
#17: Melons are Your Cheapest Fresh Fruit Option
Fruit is deceptive. What you buy isn’t always what you eat. By the time you remove peels, cores and rinds, you are left with a different amount than what you paid for. Fortunately, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has actually gone to the trouble of calculating the edible yield on a variety of fruits and vegetables.
After adjusting for edible yield, melons are some of the cheapest fruit per edible ounce. Of course, this will vary by what’s on sale and in season. But melons, along with pineapples and bananas, are generally your best buy (financially speaking).
#18: The 3 C’s of Veggies
So what about veggies? In most cases, more of the veggie is edible but your biggest bang per ounce are the 3 C’s – cabbage, carrots and cans. We have purchased cabbage for as low are 9¢ a pound! Carrots seem to be fairly stable in their low pricing which also makes them predictable for the budget. Compare the cost of fresh vs. canned. In many cases you may discover that canned is your best price per ounce and cans can (see what I did there?) be stocked up on.
#19: Unsubscribe from all Restaurant Email Lists
This one takes just a few minutes but will remove a significant distraction and temptation. This Bright Line Eating hack can be done at any time, but if you have the opportunity to do it before you even start day one that’s even better. And since BLE is a lifestyle and not a temporary diet, these foods and restaurants may never have a place in your life again, so don’t bother with setting up a separate folder for these emails to go to, just completely unsubscribe and stop getting them altogether.
Call to Action:
If you think any of these Bright Line Eating hacks will be an encouragement to others, will you share them with your friends on social media?
For more hacks check out Bright Line Eating on a Shoestring Budget.