5-Day “Cleanse” Diet

I associate the word “cleanse” with a much more hardcore, potentially unwise set of dietary guidelines than is strictly true for what I’m about to present. One of my BCFs (Best Coworker Friends) has done his share of juice cleanses, keto, paleo, and Atkins diets, and the like. But with the nutritional precepts that 1) juice is all sugar anyway and 2) dietary changes that you aren’t going to stick with won’t do you any good in the long run, I prefer to take a less extreme approach.

So yeah, I’m not big on cleanse diets. The only time I tried one was when I got home from a 2 week vacation, feeling like i could never even look at pasta sideways again and completely lacking the mental faculties to come up with my own grocery list, let alone a moderately healthy one. So that’s what this is: a decently healthy* grocery list and recipe guide, for those weeks when the idea of planning yet another week’s menu makes you want to hide under your couch.

* Caveats

  • these suggestions are based on my 2-adult, non-picky eating household
  • we aren’t gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, oil-free, or dairy-free — although if you are, this list should be fairly easy to modify
  • this list is carb-friendly, but doesn’t contain pasta or refined grains



(This assumes you have general pantry staples like olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and your favorite spices on hand.)

  • quinoa or bulgur – whichever your palette/wallet prefers
  • vegetables group 1
    • peas
    • carrots – orange or yellow ones, unless you like gray soup
    • broccoli
    • grape or cherry tomatoes
  • vegetables group 2
    • eggplant
    • zucchini
    • red onion
    • Roma or Campari tomatoes
  • salad mix of choice
  • chicken broth
  • turkey or chicken breast — more than what you and your +1 would eat in one night
  • salmon or fish of choice (fresh or frozen)
  • sausage (optional, depending on how your stomach feels)
  • bread (rec: 100% whole wheat)
  • sliced cheese (rec: havarti)
  • plain whole greek yogurt
  • honey or jam
  • eggs
  • pesto (optional)
  • tea — for drinking when you get tired of water
  • dark chocolate — for dessert, every day!

Meal plan

Evening after grocery shopping

  • Roast the turkey or chicken for dinner
  • Eat with salad
  • Put leftovers with bread and cheese into sandwiches for later (you can freeze them if you want!)
  • If there are more leftovers, awesome. Put them in the fridge.

Day 1

Breakfast: Greek yogurt with honey or jam (and coffee, if it needs to be said!)
Lunch: Add sliced tomatoes and salad to the sandwiches. Mustard or pesto are good additions if you’re into condiments.
Dinner: Use the chicken broth, any leftover chicken, and about half of all of your group 1 veggies (yea, even the broccoli and tomatoes) to make a soup. Spice to taste. Some turmeric and sausage are great here.

Day 2

Breakfast: Eggs and toast. (Make a breakfast sandwich by adding pesto and sausage, it’s great!)
Lunch: Leftover soup and/or another sandwich
Dinner: Cook enough quinoa for everyone and add the rest of the group 1 veggies. Any remaining poultry/sausage and chicken broth are nice in this too.

Day 3

Breakfast: Greek yogurt with honey/jam
Lunch: Cold quinoa salad (yes, the leftovers)
Dinner: Bake the salmon with your spice rub of choice. (Lemon and dill are also nice.)

Day 4

Breakfast: Eggs and toast, or torta if you’ve got leftover salmon.
Lunch: Use up any remaining leftovers from previous nights. If you have enough salmon, make a sandwich with that, pesto, and tomato. If you’ve managed to make your way through everything, go for some pb&j.
Dinner: Roast the Group 2 veggies along with some olive oil and apple cider vinegar, plus spices.

Day 5

Breakfast: Greek yogurt with honey/jam
Lunch: Last night’s roasted vegetables over quinoa. I like it heated up, but it’s fine cold.
Dinner: At this point, I’m usually ready for a break from home cooking. But if you’ve got enough of any remaining ingredients on hand, do one of the recipes from the previous nights, or saute everything and eat it over quinoa.


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