Week after week, we bust our humps to get to the gym and squash naughty cravings so that, by Friday night, even the most hopeless foodie can pull off a LBD (men, that’s Little Black Dress). Then the weekend arrives, and all hell breaks loose. A greasy, calorific piece of pizza with extra cheese becomes “a harmless little slice,” and that one handful of movie theatre popcorn turns into twenty (with a Slurpee and a box of Milk Duds on the side). By the time Monday morning rolls around, our exercise debt is so large, we’re tempted to file for bankruptcy… But all we can do is get back on the hungry, calorie-counting horse. Break this vicious cycle once and for all! By planning ahead (and sticking to your strategies), you can nip any weekend food challenge in the bud.  Below, my top three tips for keeping your ‘days of rest’ from getting the best of your belly.

1. Define your ‘wiggle room.’

You can afford some flexibility with your food rules on weekends, but be thoughtful about how much leniency you allow. Each Friday, determine (and commit to) the number of ‘hall passes’ you’re willing to grant yourself that evening and over the following two days; then enjoy those treats, but don’t slip up otherwise! Generally, you can indulge in one or two ‘fun foods’ per weekend without worrying about a calorie surplus that’ll show up on the scale. Big family brunch? Go ahead and try the banana pancakes. Your kids love ice cream? Take ‘em for a cone and treat yourself to one, too. Just be sure to plan ahead so you can keep your food choices firmly in check through the rest of the weekend. (If that means skirting the hot dog stand and bringing a bag of baby carrots to the Sunday sports game, so be it!)

2. Create your own kitchen challenge.

Before the weekend begins, browse your local grocery store or farmers market for a fruit or veggie you’ve never tried. Then, surf the web for (at least) two unique and intriguing ways to whip the produce item into mouthwatering meals or snacks. Work these recipes into your weekend schedule, and include your friends and family in the cooking, the tastings, or both. (Keep in mind: If you look hard enough, you can usually find a handful of kid-friendly recipes that your little ones will enjoy as much as you do.) The payoff from this activity is threefold: You’ll fill your weekend with fun, original, and affordable kitchen events (which can be as social or solitary as you choose); you’ll discover new, wholesome food ideas to populate future dinner menus (or simply stock your fridge); and you’ll keep your weekend eating habits under super-healthy control. It’s a win-win-win—for you and your sous-chefs!

3. Always carry an emergency snack stash.

Whether you’re tackling a laundry list of errands or spending a leisurely day at the mall or park, try not to leave home without a hearty supply of energizing, healthy snacks. You never know when spontaneous hunger pangs will pop up, or when your to-do list will develop an unforeseen snag that delays you a few hours. Either way, take precautions to ensure you’ll never end up famished in a place where your only food options are the junk behind the coffee counter, the junk at the concession stands, and the junk in the vending machines. Throw some easy-to-carry, nutrient-rich snacks in your day bag on Friday and leave ‘em there all weekend. Need ideas? Try prepping a homemade trail mix with your favorite whole grain cereal, dried fruit, a handful of nuts, and a dash of dark chocolate chips (optional!). Mini-packs of roasted chickpeas and totable pieces of fruit, like apples and bananas, are also great choices. Trust me—you’ll be grateful for them when the attendant at your car dealership or Apple store says, for the bazillionth time, that a representative will be with you shortly.