Maintenance Tips 'n Tricks, Plus Pantry & Freezer Meals!

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Hi Hungry Girl,

Thanks to your tips and recipes, I've lost 30 pounds and hit my goal! I'm so happy and proud of myself, but I'm nervous about maintaining my weight. Got any advice for me?

Goal-Weight Gail

Hi, Gail!

Congratulations on your weight loss! I think it's extremely smart that you're focusing on maintenance. Weight loss is hard work, but it's frighteningly easy (and all too common) to gain back weight. Here are some tips & tricks to help you stay on track...

Recalculate your caloric needs. The number of calories needed to maintain your goal weight is very likely to be different from the number you needed to lose weight. Check out this handy calculator from our pals at Calorie Count to help you get an idea of what that new number might be. You might have to experiment a little to figure out exactly what works for you, but it's worth the effort.

Loosen the reins a little, but keep things familiar. A lot of people rely on careful calorie counting while losing weight to keep the number on the scale moving down. But since maintenance is a lifelong goal, it's important to find an approach that you can really, well, maintain! It helps to have a slew of go-to guilt-free dishes with similar stats, both at home and at restaurants. This way, you won't have to overthink things or calculate calorie counts on a regular basis.

Check in... with yourself. Be accountable and honest with yourself. Maybe you don't have to weigh in each week, but if you notice your jeans are starting to get a bit tight, it's probably time to step on a scale and step up your maintenance efforts. You might even want to give yourself a monthly weigh-in date, like the first of the month, so you're less likely to let things go without realizing it.

Keep health a priority. Maintaining your goal weight can be harder than losing the weight because you don't have the motivation of seeing a lower number on the scale to keep you going. But the ultimate goal is to get healthy and stay healthy. Even if you aren't cutting calories and doing calorie-burning cardio sessions, you can still make nutritious choices and try to get in some physical activity every day.

Best of luck, and CONGRATS!!!

Hey HG,

What are some non-perishable and frozen foods I can use to make guilt-free meals in bad weather? It snows a lot where I live, and I don't always feel like heading out to the grocery store.

Snowed In

Hi Snowed In,

I kinda miss the snow a little bit! (I'm a native New Yorker living in California.) But I understand your predicament. Don't worry, though -- I've got lots of pantry staples and freezer finds to stock up on for easy guilt-free meals, plus a flurry (tee-hee) of HG recipes to put them to good use.

For breakfast, it's all about growing oatmeal bowls. Sure, you could just add hot water to a packet of instant oatmeal, but you won't get much bang for your calorie buck. With HG recipes, you get a GINORMOUS bowl of oaty goodness. The recipes call for Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze (my favorite milk swap), which adds major creaminess for hardly any calories (only 40 calories a cup!). And UVAB comes in shelf-stable cartons, so it's a great pantry staple. If you don't have fresh fruit, use canned fruit (packed in juice or water), freeze-dried fruit (LOVE Funky Monkey), or unsweetened frozen fruit (like mango chunks or sweet cherries). If you need some more inspiration, check out these two decked-out oatmeal bowls, made with only shelf-stable ingredients. Bonus: Oatmeal totally warms you up on a cold day. 

Lunch and dinner might seem a bit trickier, but there are really so many options. These Salsa-fied Tuna Stacks work perfectly with soup. (I love the new comfort-food-inspired Progresso Light flavors.) And while we're talking tuna, I'm kind of obsessed with StarKist Tuna Creations. The pouches of pre-seasoned tuna are pretty much the best shelf-stable protein you can find! If you wanna make a meal to feed the family (without making a grocery store run), high-fiber pasta with low-fat pasta sauce is a good way to go. You can even make your own sauce by seasoning up canned crushed tomatoes with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder. Add frozen ground-beef-style soy crumbles for protein (like the kind by Boca or MorningStar Farms), and fill out your dish with frozen veggies. As for snacks? Use canned chicken breast to make taquitos and nachos!

Now for dessert. "But Hungry Girl, I don't have any fresh eggs, milk, or butter," you might say. No problem. In fact, it's BETTER that way. Just mix a 12-oz. can of diet soda or club soda with a box of moist-style cake mix, and bake it at 350 degrees. Don't add ANYTHING else. My favorite combo is yellow cake mix + diet cream soda, but have fun trying whatever kinds you have on hand. Canned pure pumpkin is another great option with cake mix -- just make sure it's 100% pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling/mix, which has way more calories and sugar. Click here for full-on recipes for two-ingredient cakes.

And before you head out to the supermarket to stock up, click here for all of my favorite canned items, and check out my favorite freezer-aisle meal staples. So much to choose from, you might just be looking forward to that next snow day...

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