1. Use your calendar to plan low-SmartPoints meals and schedule more activity in the days leading up to the night out. This way, you can save up some (or all) of your weekly SmartPoints, and even bolster your Budget with some FitPoints.
2. Hold the butter. Use olive oil on your bread, not butter. A University of Illinois study of 340 patrons in an Italian restaurant found that those diners who dipped their bread in olive oil ate an average 23 percent less bread than the butter users, and reported feeling full sooner. They escaped the bread basket with 50 fewer calories overall; olive-oil users ate an average of 264 calories in bread and oil, while butter spreaders consumed 319.
3. Start the right way. Stick with a classic appetizer: get the shrimp cocktail and save SmartPoints™ values.
4. Redefine surf and turf. Steamed fish and grilled chicken breast are the champs of sea and land. But be careful: "'Grilled' can mean it was 'grilled' in a frying pan with oil." Ask for it "grilled dry."
5. Plan your meals for one or two days after your special meal out. It’s easier to get back on track if you know you have some delicious meals pre-planned.
6. Decide what type of meal it is. If it’s simply a “there’s nothing in the fridge” dinner, don’t let it escalate into an over-the-top feast. Because eating out is so often associated with celebrations, it’s all too easy to turn a simple meal out into a “special” (meaning SmartPoints-busting) night out.
7. Do your research on local restaurants. If someone suggests the wing joint and you don’t want to go there but you don't have a great alternative up your sleeve, guess where you'll end up? Not familiar with a restaurant? Google it and pre-track what you want to get.
Out for Mexican
20. Enchiladas verdes: Enchiladas make a heavy dish. Though the verde sauce is made with tomatillos, onion, chilies, and other peppers, the tortillas are flash-fried and stuffed with cheese, chicken or meat, then topped with sour cream and more cheese.
Lighten it up: The best filling choices are chicken or steak. Also, ask for the tortillas to be cooked in the pan, not the fryer.
Out for Italian
21. Pappardelle Bolognese: This authentic Bolognese dish has tomato sauce made with bits of pork, veal, and beef.
Lighten it up: Switch to pasta with marinara sauce and order a small piece of chicken, pork, or veal with it. And consider ordering whole-wheat pasta when available; it has more fiber.
22. Tortelloni alla Ricotta: Stuffed pastas like ravioli and tortelloni are usually filled with ricotta cheese or meat.
Lighten it up: Avoid Alfredo and pesto sauce; marinara is a lighter choice. Or consider asking for broth instead ("en brodo"). You’ll have a delicious, authentic dish for fewer SmartPoints
23. Risotto: Risotto is cooked slowly to attain a creamy consistency, but many chefs also add butter and cheese to make it even creamer.
Lighten it up: Order risotto with olive oil and just a pat of butter to shave off SmartPoints. Mushrooms are a great choice for flavoring, as are traditional additions of seafood, squash, peas, and saffron.
Out for Thai
Even if you end up using more SmartPoints than you’d planned, it’s just one night. Just keep tracking and move on.
27. Look at your calendar for the upcoming week. Getting an idea of how many meals you'd like to cook at home, how many lunches you (or your family) might want to tote to work or school, and how busy you'll be is an ideal way to start planning.
28. Prepare some meal components. A big batch of grains, a pot of beans, a couple quarts of homemade marinara can live in your fridge or freezer and streamline your weeknight cooking.
29. Plan for leftovers. Do weekends mean you have time for simmering a stew, roasting a whole chicken, or assembling your favorite casserole? Think of doubling those recipes or making enough so that you have at least one go-to meal for later in the week. Freezing is great for soups, stews, and casseroles. Roasts like chicken or pork will keep for about three days in the fridge, and you can use them in everything from salads to sandwiches to tacos.
30. Assemble an emergency dinner kit. Don't be caught off guard: Stock a corner of your pantry with ingredients you can throw together for a healthy meal on the fly. Ideas? Some dry spaghetti, a can of chickpeas, and a can of water-packed tuna can make a delicious Mediterranean pasta dish with just the addition of garlic, olive oil, and maybe a fresh herb. Store all the elements in a kitchen basket for easy retrieval.
31. Make some spice blends. A plain roasted chicken breast, a grilled fish fillet, or even baked tofu can make a stellar dinner centerpiece with a simple seasoning blend or rub.
33. Think about breakfasts. Imagine your ideal morning start, whether it's a comforting bowl of oatmeal you can enjoy over the morning paper or a healthy egg wrap you can grab and reheat at the office. Making a few mornings' meals ahead and refrigerating them will help keep you on track during the week.
34. Don't forget snacks. Take the time to prepare a few go-to munchies to stash in the fridge or pantry. Cut up long-lasting veggies like carrots, cucumber, and fennel into sticks for noshing or dipping in hummus. Prepare a healthy sweet like our oat and apricot bars to take on the road. And measure and pack up snacks like nuts, trial mix, or baked chips in small zip-close bags; mark their SmartPoints on each to streamline your tracking.
35. Visit a farmers' market. Weekends are a good time to combine shopping with getting to know the producers in your area. Local, in-season produce is usually offered no more than a day or two after it's picked, meaning it's likely to stay fresher throughout the week than supermarket produce. It's also a great way to try out new items you might not be familiar with.
36. Enlist a buddy. A friend or family member with similar health or cooking goals can be an excellent source of support. Make plans batch-cook together, or agree to each make double of a different recipe and swap the extras.
37. Get inspired by recipes. Start by visiting WW.com and thinking about favorite recipes you can adapt for healthy eating. This is a great stock-your-pantry shopping list.
38. Check sales online. Look through the weekly specials, especially for in-season produce, offered at your favorite stores. You can even sign up for sales alerts to be sent directly to your phone. Plan a few more recipes based on what's economical and seasonal.
39. Shop with a friend. Go with a pal or family member who shares your health goals or who'd like to split purchases at a wholesale club. Include a quick stop for coffee or a stroll through a park, or plan to cook or prep together afterward.
40. Bring your own bags. Sturdy bags with durable handles will make carrying your groceries more comfortable, may even earn your a small discount at stores, and will protect your food on the way home. Take an insulated bag to keep perishables fresher and frozen items ice-cold.
41. Commit to your list. Most grocery stores are designed to get your to buy more food, not less or healthier food. That's why planning is essential. Take a list—even if it's only notes on your phone—to keep yourself on track.
42. Don't shop hungry—or thirsty. You'll make better decisions when you aren't distracted by cravings.
43. For stay-at-home convenience, you can use online shopping services that deliver groceries right to your door.
44. Start with produce. You may know the formula that half you plate should be devoted to fruits and vegetables, but have you ever applied that to your grocery purchases? If not, start now. Fruits and vegetables should make up about 50% of your cart or basket.
45. Choose some long-lasting fruits and veggies. Most produce is best when eaten within a few days of purchase, but not all: Carrots, cabbage, winter squash, onions, potatoes, apples, watermelon, jicama, beets, celery, and radishes, to name a few, can last for weeks when properly stored. Stocking up on these items will give you ingredients to fall back on if you run out of more perishable items.
46. Take advantage of bulk bins. Grains, beans, nuts, dried fruits, and spices are often available in the bulk bin area of supermarkets, and they're generally less expensive than their packaged counterparts. Plus, you'll bag up just what you want and need, so you won't pay for more than you'll use.
47. Stock up on frozen and canned foods. Picking up frozen veggies, beans, and more ensures you'll always have the makings of a healthy meal. Frozen unsweetened fruits are an affordable luxury when your favorites are out of season and unseasoned frozen grains can become speedy sides on busy weeknights. Some of the veggies that hold their quality best when frozen include green peas, sweet corn, artichoke hearts, kale, and pureed butternut squash.
48. Don't forget beverages. Sparkling and infused waters, herbal teas, or even special coffee beans can add perk up your day
49. Keep the momentum going! Discover more healthy recipes to try and start planning your next trip!