The 4Ps. The term will sound familiar to you if you have participated in The 30 Clean Challenge before; in fact it has probably become a staple term in your vocabulary if you have made The 30 Clean way a lifestyle. But for those of you who have never taken our Challenge, you may not have ever 4P’d. Well today is your lucky day because I am givng you the inside scoop on how to manage your health with just four simple steps! The 4Ps! Also known as: Plan, Purchase, Prepare, and Put Away! At The 30 Clean, we provide lots of science-y information and philosophy to help you understand why we eat real, whole & nutrient dense foods, but the 4Ps are the PRACTICAL application of our methodology. They provide you with the ability to incorporate these amazing and healing foods into your life so that this system can work for YOU! So, let’s break it down P by P with some awesome tips and tricks of how to navigate through each step and create your new clean, healthy, feel-good lifestyle!! Want the cliff notes? Watch our VIDEO!
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Life is hectic and unpredictable. We get that. But there are steps you can take to regain some control and set yourself up to make some good, clean choices. If you leave your health to chance, then you’ll probably end up choosing what’s convenient (and usually unhealthy). BUT if you have a well thought-out (and then well executed) PLAN, you’ll be able to make the best, clean choices possible…
Write it down
Maybe I’m just a whackadoo, but there’s something about writing out my daily meals, workouts and weekly goals that helps me stick to them. Even research shows that writing down your plans and goals is more effective; something Forbes magazine agrees with too. Here at The 30 Clean, we provide you with tools to help you organize your thoughts and put them in writing. We have our trusty Weekly Shopping List and Menu Planner and a Measurement Tracking Sheet to chart your fitness and weight loss goals. But if you’re not into writing things out by hand (I’m old school that way), there are plenty of phone apps to help you as well! So find one that works for you! We recommend Plan to Eat as an excellent web and mobile app for your weekly meal planning.
Most importantly keep your plans/lists where you can see them and access them with ease. I highly recommend taking an hour each week to write down your grocery lists, meal plan for the week, and any particular goal you would like to focus on such as, eating more greens, increasing your omega 3 intake, or (gasp) foregoing nuts for the week. Then tack them up on the wall, or using an app or computer program, put it on your desktop or home screen. Look at it every day, making notations or adjustments as needed. This is the best way to stick to your plan and to find the best system that works for you!
Know your obstacles
We all have them. The crazy day of the week where you barely have time to breathe, let alone, eat. Whether it’s a last minute meeting, unplanned family event or just an overrun schedule, these things can be tough and through us off track! Without a plan, your obstacles end up turning into excuses. With your plan, you are more apt to handle last minute changes. So, when writing your list, note your upcoming schedule and what days you will be doing what, where and with whom? These are factors that affect your life and therefore, your success for a Clean lifestyle. So, instead of working against these issues, try to figure out a way to work around them. And this leads me to my next tip…
Make it work for YOU and YOUR life! You may try to follow someone else’s plan that worked for them, but if they have different tastes, obstacles, and goals then it won’t work for you! So find recipes that are quick and simple if you’re busy, or that work around your picky eaters so you’re not making two separate dinners every night. Figure out what days you’ll have to bring a lunch to work or eat out and if there will be clean options available. This is not a ONE SIZE FITS ALL program. There are so many different foods, recipes, eating schedules, and they can all help keep you clean if they fit into your life. It may take some trial and error, but if you don’t make this plan work for you it’ll be tough to get through the week one let alone 30 days. So take the time to customize.
“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of those around you.” –Robin S. Sharma
Now that you have your wonderful lists and menu plans, it’s time to go shopping! But not so fast… While it seems like you should just be able to head to any ol’ grocery store and match the items on your list to what you see on the shelves, the reality is that food manufacturers and marketers have managed to sneak very unclean methods and ingredients into seemingly healthy foods. So check out these shopping tips before you go waste your hard earned money on some less-than-ideal food that won’t get you the full results of the clean.
Set a Budget
First things first, right? You have to know how much money you’re working with. This relates back to the “customize it” portion of planning. If you end up spending too much every week and can’t pay your bills you won’t stick with it. Now, unfortunately, I can’t crunch the numbers for you or tell you that you should be spending X of a percentage of your monthly income, blah, blah, that’s boring anyway. But I will give you a few pointers for making clean shopping budget friendly.
- If money is tight, stick to the essentials. The $6 bar of gourmet dark chocolate and the $4 bottle of kombucha may sound appealing, but are not the priority for the healthy body you are learning to build. What your body really needs are lots of nutrient dense veggies, some good quality fats and a little bit of high quality protein.
- Shop for deals and sales: Hey, clean food is clean food whether you got it at the high-end market or with a coupon. No need for snobbery around here. Just make sure it’s CLEAN!
- Buy in bulk: Amen for Costco! From coconut oil, to wild salmon, to free range bison, and giant bags of sweet potatoes… if you can buy a lot at a time, it will always save you a buck or two.
- Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen: This is a list of fruits and veggies that are either safer or totally NOT safe to eat conventionally (as opposed to organic). So if organic produce is way overpriced at your local grocer, it may help to know which ones you can fudge on.
- Farmer’s Markets: Any time you cut out the middleman it’s going to be cost effective. Not to mention, buying directly from the farmer gives you the rare opportunity to speak with the source of your food! So check out your local farmer’s markets and ask lots of questions! They love talking about their prized produce anyway ;)
Navigating Your Local Grocery Store
You have your budget set and you’re excited to find some clean and delicious food (for cheap)! But let’s take just one more minute to think about how to strategically go about this. Grocery stores hire people to specifically place and display items so that you end up purchasing things you don’t need, that aren’t on your list and 9 times out of 10 are NOT clean. So let’s do our best to avoid this and efficiently navigate through your local store coming out 100% clean!
- Never shop when hungry! If you are all you’ll be able to see are those brightly packaged Oreos on the front cap of that aisle, and, oh wait, is this a new flavor of Lay’s potato chips? Just. Don’t!
- Shop the outer perimeter first. This is where all the cold stuff is like produce and meats. Aka, the REAL food. Remember, if it can go bad it’s good for you, if it can’t, its NOT!
- Keep your eye on the prize! There are a few shelf stable clean items such as canned seafood, canned coconut milk, nuts, seeds, etc… And you may have to peruse the center aisles to find these items, but go in for exactly what you came for and then GET OUT! I like to keep my list in front of me and check off items as I go so I’m not looking around at all of the non-clean temptations.
- Read the labels! All of our food has a label these days. On the one hand it’s a way to regulate food and its content and provide the consumer with useful information to make educated choices, and on the other, it’s a great way for companies to market their products and get you to BUY them. So read them CAREFULLY! Always check the ingredients list. And a good rule of thumb is if it has more than 5 ingredients (and you can’t pronounce half of them) it probably isn’t clean.
“Real food doesn’t have ingredients, real food IS ingredients.” -Jamie Oliver
This is where the magic happens. You get to actually MAKE your food! YOU get to be in complete control of your own nourishment! What a gift. Hopefully, in your planning, you’ve had a chance to find some fun, new and yummy clean recipes! But if not, check out the start up guide for a list of great resources and cookbooks, or our very own 30 Clean Pinterest page! There really is something for EVERYONE out there. But in addition to helpful recipes there are a few kitchen gadgets that may make your clean prep a whole lot simpler. Some of our favorites are:
- Crock pot- great for pre-frozen and one pot meals. Just set it and forget it
- A high quality, sharp chef’s knife- for chopping all of the wonderful veggies you’ll be eating
- Food processor/Blender- great for making dressings, sauces, homemade almond butter and milk.
- Spiralizer- I just have one word. ZOODLES! Trust me, you’ll want one.
- A good set of glassware with lids/mason jars- these make the most ideal storage for your prepped food.
You already have your meals written down, so you may as well prep the ingredients you will need to throw the meals together. Make sure you wash and chop all of your veggies and portion out the appropriate proteins so they’re easy to grab and cook. Likewise, it will be ideal to have some go-to foods on-hand for when you need a quick meal to throw together or a work lunch. This way you’re not always resorting to something that’s less than ideal (like a larabar). Some of our favorites are:
- Pre-cooked chicken breast
- Canned tuna, salmon or sardines
- Applegate deli meats
- Hard boiled eggs
- Sprouted nuts and legumes
- Mason Jar salads
- Veggie sticks- carrots, celery, jicama, cucumbers, etc…
- Veggie chips made from sweet potato, parsnips, plantain, etc…
- Almond butter
- Homemade dressings
- Fresh, whole fruit- apples, bananas, berries, melon, etc…
This may be the most important of the 4Ps. If you don’t prepare good, clean food you’ll be likely to resort to something fast, easy and cheap which is almost always un-CLEAN. So make sure you set yourself up for success and get your PREP on! Feeling short on time or just plain lazy, check out my 3-Day Prep HERE!
“With organization comes empowerment.” –Lynda Peterson
Once you have your wonderful clean food prepared and ready to go make sure you pack them up and put them in the appropriate places. Here is an awesome link and chart on storing fresh fruits and veggies.
It’s also important to store hot, cooked food in glass containers and allowed to cool before refrigeration. Placing hot food in plastic leaches toxins into your food. That is why we suggest investing in a set of glassware. It is best to avoid plastic altogether, but, at the very least, please use glass in hot applications.
And don’t forget about your freezer! It can be very helpful when storing bulk items such as protein, or any produce you may have found on sale or at the Farmer’s Market but won’t be able to eat in time. You can also freeze entire prepped meals to throw into your trusty crockpot for a quick go-to family dinner. Here are a few quick tips for freezing fruits and veggies.
Just make sure your clean food is in a place where it is easily seen and accessed. If you can see it and reach it, you’ll be more likely to EAT it! And that’s the whole point right? ;)
Hopefully these tips and tricks will help get you on your way to be a lean, green and clean machine!