I love to cook, especially when I have plenty of extra time and energy. But, to be realistic, this is not much of the time. I really have to plan ahead to succeed in eating healthily, or it becomes too easy to grab something quick, ‘cheap’ and horrible for my digestion system. Especially when there are often goodies at my workplace, and when my boyfriend can eat a tub of sugar right in front of me each day and not gain a pound (not that he does this often!).
Many people seem to plan their meal prepping on one of their days off. But let’s get real, that’s what I want to do on one of my very few days off per week? No! So I do mine after work, usually on Monday or Tuesday.
Meal prep is exactly what it sounds like, planning ahead for the week (either very detailed with a menu for each day, or looser with a few options that you can choose from as you go), and pre-cooking or preparing as much of the food as possible. The items that you can pre-cook anyway.
Here is what a typical pre-meal prep grocery trip might look like (and this is for 2, as far as dinners are concerned anyway):
- Whole Grain bread (ideally sprouted grain)
- Whole grain tortillas (large and sliders)
- Goat Cheese (easier on digestive system for most of us, and less fat/calories per ounce as well)
- Organic Eggs
- A few Avocados and tomatoes (especially heirloom, yum!)
- Random Veggies: Generally Bell Peppers, Mushrooms, Onions, and Garlic
- Salsa Ingredients: Jalapeno, Onion, Cilantro, Tomatoes, Garlic (or buy freshly prepared salsa to save time and possibly money, remember no weird chemicals or salt/sugar should listed in ingredients!)
- Jam Ingredients: Any type of fruit you would like and chia seeds as listed below, especially stone fruits and berries (or buy no sugar added jam, with as few ingredients listed as possible)
- Random Fruits (for grab and go snacks): Bananas, Grapes, Berries, etc.
- Meat (I am going meatless right now! But the boyfriend still ‘needs’ it): chicken, or ground turkey, etc.
- (I, personally, also make sure to keep apples, lemons, ginger, cucumber and greens — spinach, kale or chard — on hand because I juice these every morning.)
The following I buy as needed (mostly from the bulk bin area), so a big bag will often last a month or more:
- Natural Peanut Butter (almond, peanut or cashew, and the nut should be the only ingredient listed or possibly sea salt)
- Dry Black Beans (can buy canned, but check ingredient list and it should only be black beans and sea salt)
- Brown Rice (or wild rice or quinoa)
- Chia Seeds
- Nuts and Seeds (no added salts or sugars!)
- Something else you will need: Tupperware or Glass containers of various sizes!
On meal prep day, I would do the following
- The night before: Soak the black beans in a bowl of water (like 2 cups beans and 6 cups of water)
- In a large pot, bring 2 ½ cups of brown rice and 5 cups of water to a boil (or check the cooking instructions for whatever type of rice you have gotten), cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 45-50 minutes. Let cool and then put into a tupperware to go in the fridge.
- In a large pot, pour black beans, extra water, and spices (cumin, sea salt, chili powder) and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low (uncovered) and simmer for a couple hours. Let cool and then put into a tupperware to go in the fridge.
- Salsa: Chop up all ingredients, place into food processor, blend and store in a tupperware to go in the fridge.
- Clean the food processor, and chop up the fruits (about 2 cups) for the jam, place into food processor, blend. Add 2 Tablespoons of chia seed and stir together very well. Pour mixture into a jar, and place in fridge (it will thicken up within a few hours).
- Pan Fry Ground chicken/Turkey with spices and coconut oil, or boil 2-3 chicken breasts for 20 minutes. Take out the chicken and either shred with forks or in a ktichen-aid. Add spices as well and mix up again. Let cool, and store in tupperware in the fridge.
- Pan Fry Veggies in coconut oil and spices (bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc.). Let cool and store in tupperware in the fridge.
When all is said and done you should have the following in your fridge/pantry:
- Tortillas and Bread
- Jam and Peanut Butter
- Whole Grain Rice and Black Beans
- Shredded Chicken (or Ground Turkey)
- Avocados and Tomatoes
- Veggie Mix
- Fruits/Nuts to grab for snacks throughout the day
Now, there are several options for what to actually ‘cook’ and most of the hard work/time has already been put in, here are some ideas:
- Quesadilla w/goat cheese and veggies (can make a quick guacamole on the side by mashing half an avocado and a spoonful or two of salsa)
- Peanut butter and jam sandwich
- Slice of toast with jam
- Rice bowl: rice, beans, veggies, goat cheese, salsa (can add meat)
- Egg bowl: scrambled eggs, beans, veggies, goat cheese, salsa (can add meat)
- Slice of toast with a slice of tomato and a fried egg, topped with avocado slices and a splash of salsa or hot sauce
- Mini tacos (use the slider tortillas): black beans, goat cheese, salsa and some more of that quick guacamole (can add meat)
- Slice of toast with peanut butter and sliced bananas
- Sandwich with goat cheese, avocado and tomato
Remember we all have different constraints. Do the best you can with what you have and what you know. If you do that, you will continue to grow.