For the past three months, the coronavirus pandemic has changed life as we knew it. Arguably, one of the places changed most by the virus has been our kitchens. With grocery stores facing supply chain shortages and the majority of restaurants closed or only offering carryout options, we've been forced to fend for ourselves and make most of our meals at home. It hasn't been easy for anyone, but imagine cooking virtually every meal—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—for these past few months without having a dishwasher.
Not only has Lori Dominick, 54, of Green Belt, Maryland, done just that, but she also managed to lose weight in the process, thanks in large part to her Cooking Light Diet meal plans. She hasn't just been making it work. She's been thriving.
Struggling to cook healthy? We'll help you prep.
“It was always the first thing I looked for”
Dominick found the Cooking Light Diet a little over a year ago via happenstance. "Every time I wanted to lose some weight [in my adult life], the first thing I would do was go buy a Cooking Light magazine," Dominick said. "It was always the first thing I looked for."
Unable to find the print edition at the time, she came across CookingLightDiet.com. The idea of having Cooking Light meals planned out weekly greatly appealed to her, so she subscribed. She didn't start out cooking every meal on her plan, though. Dominick's job as a General Manager of Operations at the University of Maryland meant she ran and managed seven different campus eateries. That is to say she was very busy, and because food was her job's focal point, it was hard not to eat at work, and even harder to lose weight while working.
"It was just grabbing lots of calories all the time," Dominick joked.
But after putting in 30 years, Dominick retired in December 2019 and committed to a healthier lifestyle. "I knew I'd have more time to focus on eating right and losing weight, so that's what I started doing." And that she did. Dominick would shop once a week for her Cooking Light Diet meals, and she started working with a trainer to establish an exercise routine. She wouldn't prepare every single meal from the Diet, but she was cooking often enough that she discovered new favorites, like Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas.
Dominick also made constructive use of her newfound free time, volunteering at the local farmers market and the Capital Area Food Bank (you can donate to the food bank here), participating in her community's free 5K Park Runs, and joining the community band as a percussionist.
And then, of course, coronavirus changed the world.
Cooking 24/7…without a dishwasher
The arrival of a global pandemic meant that Dominick had to change the way she shopped and cooked. "I shop every two weeks now, and for the first time in my life I've had to make every one of my meals at home."
Let's all just take a moment and appreciate the fact that Dominick has been preparing Cooking Light Diet meals at home for over three months without a dishwasher. That's a lot of hand-washed dishes, folks!
Luckily, Dominick said, the Cooking Light Diet has made cooking right now less stressful than it could be. "If I know what I'm supposed to eat, then I stick to a plan. The Cooking Light Diet has given me a great framework for meal planning so that there's no struggling in that regard. The recipes aren't super complicated, either, and I can honestly say I've never had a bad Cooking Light recipe. I really can't think of a single one."
The variety of recipes on the Cooking Light Diet is another thing Dominick has enjoyed about the service. Admittedly, she'd eat oatmeal every day if she could, but she now has multitudinous options for every mealtime. Typically, she'll simplify her breakfast routine (usually opting for one of the many oatmeal recipes) in favor of using her kitchen time to make lunches and dinners. She usually cooks two or three dinners a week and repurposes the leftovers for future dinners or lunches.
"There's plenty of room to pivot in terms of ingredient substitutions or what I'm in the mood to eat," Dominick said. She also said she likes that she can plan in Leftovers or indicate if she's Dining Out.
Hard to pick favorites
Dominick has been utilizing her Cooking Light Diet meals for about six months straight now, and even though she acknowledges it's getting harder and harder to lose weight after age 50, she has still lost 15 pounds—and kept them off*.
"It's real food," Dominick said. "Real ingredients. You're cooking, but it's sustainable. I haven't gotten tired of the meals yet." She also said pre-Diet she hardly ate any fruits and vegetables at mealtimes. Now? Dominick said virtually all of her meals contain lots of fruits and veggies, and the "delicious and simple sides" ensure she's always eating plenty of greens.
Dominick said that she's spending more money at the grocery store, but she says that eating most of her meals at home means she's been spending less overall. And since the majority of Cooking Light Diet recipes can be searched for on MyFitnessPal, she's been able to use that integration to help on her weight-loss journey.
Dominick's only issue with the Cooking Light Diet? Picking a favorite recipe. Dominick said she's had so many delicious meals over the past six months that it's impossible to pick just one. But she highly recommends the Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas, Enchilada Casserole, and the Make-Ahead Chicken Fajita Bowls.
When asked why she'd recommend the Cooking Light Diet to others during the time of coronavirus, Dominick said, "I'm eating real food I make myself. I don't feel hungry, the portion sizes are satisfying, and I haven't gotten tired of the meals yet. There's no more struggle about what's for dinner, or any other meal for that matter."
The only struggle for Lori Dominick and her Cooking Light Diet subscription, it seems, is with those dang dishes.
*Members following the Cooking Light Diet, on average, lose 1/2 lb. per week.
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