Easy to Follow Diet for Busy People

Consistent, sustainable weight loss. Fast, and easy to prepare meals to keep you from falling off the bandwagon.

After following the Scarsdale Medical Diet (SMD) for a little while, I discovered a way to make this diet even easier to follow. Most of the food in this diet (especially for the breakfasts and the lunches) require very little preparation, so you can put them together in minutes right before you leave for work. 

In brief, this diet features:

  • Consistent, sustainable weight loss
  • Easy to follow and keep track of where you are in the menu
  • Fast, and easy to prepare meals
  • Limited list of ingredients
  • No “exotic” ingredients like Kale or Flaxseed
  • Relatively little food waste
  • For busy professionals and/or parents that slack on meal prep and get pizza instead

Even though the original diet recommends 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off, I actually stay on this diet indefinitely now. It’s quite similar to the “Keep Trim” diet because I’ve added a few things that weren’t “kosher” with the SMD.

While on this diet, I still cheat quite a bit—a lite beer here, or a trip to Wendy’s there. With these dalliances, I feel that I get plenty of calories, carbs, and fat. When following the diet, my calorie intake is low enough that I don’t feel stressed or guilty when I do eat that late-night snack, go out to eat with friends, eat office treats, or attend a Christmas party. Even with some minor straying, I still see weight loss results. It’s not as fast or extreme as the SMD, but it’s consistent and sustainable.

The Easy to Follow Diet:

Since this is a bit long, here’s a table of contents for your convenience.

For more information about this diet, I recommend reading the original article I wrote. It goes into more detail about what’s allowed, and what’s not allowed. It also explains how the diet works mechanically—especially regarding ketosis (extra incentive to stick with it!).

The new and improved diet goes like this: download, print, and cut apart these cards I designed. The cards are divided three into three categories: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

  • Breakfast is a pink circle
  • Lunch is an orange circle
  • Dinner is a blue circle

Each card is numbered in the order that you follow it. On the first day that you start this, you eat Breakfast #1, Lunch #1, and Dinner #1. There are not an even number of cards in each category, so at some point the menu will stagger itself up. That is normal.

The cards are meant to be left out in three little piles on the fridge or the counter top. When you wake up in the morning and start getting ready for work, you just flip to the next card and start packing your breakfast and lunch. It usually only takes 5-10 minutes!

If you have leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, pack that in your lunch instead of that day’s card.

If you flip to a card that you don’t have all the ingredients for, flip again till you get one that does. If you flip through all of them, it’s time to head to the store!

Finally, when you arrive home from work in the evening, it won’t take you very long to make dinner. While the dinners do need more preparation than the breakfasts and lunches, the ingredient lists are simple, and the instructions are easy to follow. Some of the cards will indicate what is for dinner the next day, so that you can take that meat out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge.

Regarding beverages: I usually drink one very large cup of coffee with cream in the morning as my breakfast, and the breakfast food will follow an hour or two later. I also drink a lot of tea, sparkling water, and regular water with all of my meals.

Regarding in-between meal snacks: see the original diet for more detail, but I usually eat carrots, celery, or have some hot water with bouillon.

Each day is somewhere between 700-800 calories. If this doesn’t seem like enough, remember that I am quite short and rather sedentary. If you are a man, or taller, you will need more calories than this! So adjust the recipes as needed.

When you get bored of this menu, spice things up a bit by choosing a recipe from my “Scarsdale Approved” board on Pinterest!

Diet Grocery List

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Here is a list of items to buy the before you begin. I usually head to the store once a week to pick up any items that I no longer have at home. I freeze all the meat, and the use the older fruits and veggies first before consuming newly purchased ones. I did try to keep the list simple, but I included everything so that you can prevent extra trips to the store for missing ingredients.

Produce Department

  • — Fruits ————————————-
  • 5-8 of any random fruit (avoid bananas, too starchy and sweet) grapefruits, mango, grapes, pears, strawberries, peaches, cherries etc.
  • 16 oz. container of fruit medley—cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 apple
  • — Veggies ————————————-
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 package cherry tomatoes
  • 1 beefsteak tomato
  • 1 white onions
  • 1 small jar minced garlic
  • — Greens ————————————-
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 2 bags of sugar snap peas (I snack on these a lot. Yum!)
  • 1 package celery
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch (two heads) broccoli
  • 1 bag of brussels sprouts
  • — Prepared ——————————-
  • 1 bag spring greens mix
  • 1 bag carrot chips
  • — Bulk ————————————-
  • Half of a handful of whole plain pecans
  • Half of a handful of sliced almonds (salad topping)

Meat Department (Reminder: freeze all the raw meat)

  • 1/4 lb. deli oven roasted turkey slices
  • 1 package of pre-cooked medium shrimp
  • 1 lb. 96% lean ground beef
  • boneless pork chops (I had 2, 1-inch-thick cuts)
  • 1 package chicken breasts
  • 10 oz. Steak
  • Smoked Salmon (great topping for salads or chopped up in eggs)

Dairy Cooler

  • Parmesan cheese
  • Half and half (optional if you want it in your coffee)
  • Eggs
  • 1% milkfat cottage cheese
  • Reduced-fat cheese sticks
  • Small bag shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 5 oz. containers plain greek yogurt

Dry Goods

  • 1 loaf Brownberry 12-grain whole wheat bread
  • Simply JIF peanut butter
  • Cocktail sauce
  • Tarragon vinegar
  • Franks Red Hot
  • Ketchup
  • Ranch dressing (I use this a lot with celery and carrot snacks)
  • Schezuan sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Spicy brown mustard
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Beef bouillon
  • Chicken bouillon
  • 1 6-ounce can chicken breast
  • Grape Nuts

Baking Aisle

  • Cayenne pepper, ground
  • Chili powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Cumin, ground
  • Curry powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Mustard, ground
  • Nutmeg
  • Onion powder
  • Pepper, fresh ground
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Sugar substitute (I purchased Truvia, but might try Stevia next. Read: Erythritol)


Lunch #3 — Chicken Salad

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  • 1 6-ounce can chicken breast packed in water, drained
  • 1 stalk minced celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced carrot
  • 1 tablespoon minced white onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 wedge freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 dollop of plain yogurt

In a small mixing bowl break up the chicken with a fork. Toss with the celery, onion, and parsley. Add the mustard and season with pepper, to taste. Stir to combine. Add lemon juice, to taste, if using. If you want to change things up a bit, use Frank’s Red Hot instead of mustard.

Dinner #2 — Broiled Hamburger

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For a make-ahead rub:

  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • soy sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce


  1. Combine all dry ingredient in a small bowl.
  2. Per 1 pound of meat, add 1 heaping Tablespoon of dry mix, plus 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
  3. Store dry mix in a airtight container for up to 3 months.

For 1 pound of hamburger:

  • 1 pound lean beef. Season with:
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set an oven-safe rack on the foil. You should have at least an inch of air space between the rack and pan for circulation.
  2. Set the oven shelf to the upper third of the oven.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Form into four ¼ pound patties.
  5. Wrap three patties in wax paper and put in freezer for later.
  6. Chop up zucchini for this meal, and season to taste (no oil).
  7. Set the burger on the rack, and place zucchini around on the pan, and place the pan with rack in the oven.
  8. Bake for ten to twelve minutes or until done as you like them. You may need to remove the meat and let the veggies cook a bit longer.

Dinner #3 — Broiled Pork Chops

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  • 3 cups cold water
  • 3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
  • 2 smashed garlic cloves
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Brine: Bring 1 cup of the water to a boil, add the salt and optional flavorings, and stir to dissolve the salt. Add 2 more cups of cold water to bring the temperature of the brine down to room temperature. Place the pork chops in a shallow dish and pour the brine over top. The brine should cover the chops — if not, add more water and salt (1 cup water to 1 tablespoon salt). Cover the dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

Pork Chops:

  • 2 boneless pork chops—3/4-inch to 1-inch thick (Roughly 1 lb. of meat)
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • Lemon (and lemon zest)
  • Meat thermometer
  1. Heat the oven and skillet: Rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 400°F. Place the skillet in the oven.
  2. Remove chops from brine. Pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Season the pork chops: Poke the chops a bit with a fork and pour a little soy sauce on. Poke some more until the sauce soaks in a little. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pat one side of the chop dry and put a 1/2 teaspoon of oil on one side of the chops for the searing step.
  5. While you’re waiting for the oven to preheat, prepare your asparagus by snapping the ends off, cutting to preferred size and place in a glass baking dish. Season to taste with salt, lemon juice, lemon zest, and pepper.
  6. Remove the skillet from the oven: Using oven mitts, remove the skillet from the oven. Set it over medium-high heat on the stovetop. Turn on a vent fan or open a window.
  7. Sear the pork chops: Lay the pork chops in the hot skillet. Sear until golden, 3 minutes. Turn down the heat if smoke becomes excessive.
  8. Flip the chops and transfer to the oven: Transfer the skillet using oven mitts!
  9. Put asparagus into oven. When you check on the meat, stir the asparagus a bit to roast all sides. These will take about 20 minutes to roast. Pull them out when they’re done and set aside until the meat is ready.
  10. Roast the chops until cooked through: They should register 140°F to 145°F in the thickest part of the meat with an instant-read thermometer. Cooking time will be 6 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the chops, how cool they were at the start of cooking, and if you brined them. Start checking the chops at 6 minutes. Continue checking every minute or two until the chops are cooked through.
  11. Rest the chops: Oven mitts! Transfer the cooked pork chops to a plate. Let rest for at least 5 minutes. While you are waiting for the pork chops to rest, deglaze the pan on the stove with a handful of chopped onions a bit of vinegar (best to clean it while everything is hot!). Add this on your asparagus or throw out, your choice. 🙂

Dinner #4 — Stir Fry

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Turn your leftovers into an asian stir fry! Another idea you can use to change up this dish: Taco Seasoning with a garnish of plain yogurt.

  • Get a pan hot
  • Slice up onion, red pepper, and meat.
  • Put onion, red pepper, and snap peas in pan and cook until tender
  • Add your leftover pork at the end just to heat it up
  • Season with soy sauce, schezuan sauce and a dollop of peanut butter.

Dinner #5 — Steak

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  • New York Strip Steak
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Soy Sauce
  • Garlic powder
  • Canola Oil
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Meat thermometer
  1. Take steak out of fridge. Poke both sides a bit with a fork. Season with salt, pepper, and soy sauce.
  2. After the soy sauce has soaked into the holes a bit, put a little bit of oil on both sides of the meat
  3. Put oven-safe pan on medium-high heat, and allow it to heat up.
  4. Preheat oven for 400 degrees.
  5. While you’re waiting for everything to heat up, prepare brussels sprouts. Cut the tough ends off and put in a microwave-safe bowl with a little bit of water in the bottom.
  6. When the oven and pan is ready, sear the steak, 2-3 minutes on both sides. Sear close to the final color you want.
  7. Transfer pan to the preheated oven.
  8. Put brussels sprouts in microwave and cook for 5 minutes.
  9. After 5 minutes, use oven mitts to take the pan out. Check the temperature. 145 is medium-rare, 150 is medium. Put back into the oven and allow to cook to your preference.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.

Dinner #6 — Buffalo Chicken

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(4 servings)

  • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • garlic powder
  • Franks Red Hot
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Put chicken in an 8×8 glass pan and season both sides with pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and Franks Red Hot.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Flip chicken and cook until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 15 minutes more.
  4. Cut each piece of chicken in half.
  5. Eat half of one piece with celery sticks.

Dinner #7 — Roasted Broccoli

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(3 servings, 66 calories per serving)

  • 2 Broccoli Heads
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 tsp Vinegar (any flavor, I used malt)
  • 1 tsp Minced Garlic
  • .25 teaspoon Pepper
  • .25 teaspoon Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut florets off head and halve the bigger pieces so they are all roughly the same size. Place in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Bonus tip: the “heart” of the broccoli stalk is very tender and tasty, but it takes a bit of work to get it out. Once you’ve cut all the florets off, trim about half an inch off the bottom of the stem. Use a knife to cut off the “knots” of the “tree”. The skin around base of the stem is thicker and you can use a knife to cut some of that off too. Once you get this far, use a vegetable peeler to “plane off” the rest of the tough green skin. You’ll know you’re at the heart because it’s a lighter green, almost white. Put some seasoning salt on it and crunch away. If you feel any “fibers” at all, you haven’t quite peeled all the tough stuff off. It should have almost the same consistency as a firm honeydew melon.
  4. In a small bowl whisk the olive oil, Parmesan Cheese, malt vinegar, garlic, pepper, and salt. Experiment with trying to go without the oil if you can.
  5. Use a basting brush to lightly paint the broccoli, turning as you go to cover all sides. If you don’t need to use all the oil mixture to cover the broccoli, then set it aside.
  6. Cover a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  7. Evenly distribute broccoli across cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 8 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Closing Thoughts

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In summary, I modified my original diet because it was just a little TOO extreme. That said, I still think that it would be useful for you to try out the SMD in the first round simply because it is very effective at resetting your taste-buds, and shrinking your stomach a bit. This modified diet made it a lot quicker for me to prep meals in the morning because I hated having to flip back and forth between printed pages or click around on the article to find my place. I hope you find it easy too! Let me know if you have any feedback or suggestions.

That’s pretty much it! I hope this diet can be a tool that help you on your upward path to health!

Image Source: Pixabay

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