How many of you made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape in 2017 or maybe just to eat healthier? I am sure I am not the only one. God knows I am great at making the goal but very bad at accomplishing it in the year! But this year I really set my mind to improving my health. I am not getting any younger that is for sure and with each passing year the pounds on the scale creep up higher and higher. I know that one of my biggest obstacles to eating heathy has to do with time management. I really enjoy to cook but I have noticed that lately I find myself in the drive-thru more than in my kitchen. One thing that I have found over the years is that if I don’t meal prep I will not stay on track. Simple as that. I work 2 jobs, 6 days a week and the last thing I feel like doing when I get home from work is cooking a meal. So I have learned that meal prep is the key to success in any diet/health plan for busy, active people.
When you meal prep keep it simple! Don’t go crazy and try 10 new recipes only to realize later in the week you don’t like any them! I stick to two or three lean proteins, rice or potato as my carbs, and a side of veggies. I try to make balanced meals that can withstand reheating. One point I want to make here is that some people will meal prep one day for the entire week while others may only meal prep for 2-3 days and then repeat during the week when they run out of meals. I personally like to meal prep on Sunday for Monday-Friday. But if you find your meals are getting dry, flavorless, and/or boring by Friday then by all means just meal prep for 2-3 days. Your food will be more fresh this way.
I start by putting my rice in the rice cooker. If you make rice frequently and have not invested in a good rice cooker, you are missing out! I love mine. I always had a tendency to burn my rice and with a rice cooker you will get perfect rice every time. Plus no supervision is required so you can dump the rice in and not give it another thought until the timer goes off that it is finished cooking. The rice cooker I use is the one by Aroma which I got off of amazon. Any rice cooker will do but I like this one because it is cheap and I can steam veggies in the top of it while it is cooking the rice.
As my rice is cooking I get all my vegetables washed, dried, and diced/sliced. I like to use a variety of fruits and vegetables for my meals so I don’t get bored with the meals midweek. And I do switch this up every week, along with the proteins. I try to go heavy on green vegetables such as broccoli, green beans, zucchini, and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale. Besides being rich in nutrients and minerals, green vegetables typically are lower on the glycemic index which will help keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day which is especially important if you are trying to lose weight.
Also if you are planning on cooking whole sweet potatoes you want to get those in the oven pretty early in your meal prep process because they take a long time to cook and then cool before putting them in your containers. This week I chose to just roast some diced sweet potatoes, which shortens the cooking time since they are cut into smaller pieces.
Once I finished prepping my veggies I like to toss them in a little melted coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. I like mine simple with just salt and pepper but you can season them with anything you like. Maybe a little garlic powder, season salt, red pepper flakes. You do you boo!
Then I throw them on a cookie sheet (normally lined with aluminium foil to make clean up quick but I was out of aluminium foil this night) and bake at 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit until cooked to desired doneness.
One new side I fixed this week was balsamic glazed haricot verts with toasted almonds.This dish looks so fancy but in reality it couldn’t be more simple. Haricot verts are a French style green bean that have great flavor and are super simple to prep considering they are stringless. I get mine at Trader Joe’s for less than $3 a bag. In a skillet with about about 1 tsp of Ghee, I sauté the beans for about five minutes on medium high heat. I like mine still with a crunch so I don’t cook them long, especially since they will cook a little more when you reheat them later in the week. If you like a softer bean then you can cook them longer. Once they are cooked to the desired doneness, I sprinkle mine with salt and pepper, sliced almonds, and 1-2 TBLS Balsamic vinagar. I cook this just until the almonds are lightly toasted. Lastly, right before I take them off the stove, I squeeze in juice from half a lemon. The lemon juice gives it just a note of freshness to brighten up the palate.
This week I also thawed out some sliced peppers and onions I had in the freezer and sautéed them with some sliced mushrooms and garlic in the skillet.
After you have your vegetables in the oven and rice/potatoes cooking, then you can focus on your proteins. This week I did take a short cut by using some meat from my freezer that I had already cut up and froze in a ziplock bag with a marinade. Something I like to do when I am cooking a meal is go ahead and make extra to freeze. So I had cut up some chicken and beef from some meals last month and froze them, uncooked, to use for future meals.
For this Sunday I made 9 meals (one of which I ate that night) for the week to cover my lunches and dinners. I did not do any breakfast prep on Sunday because I already had a big batch of oatmeal ready for the week. It took me about an hour and half from start to finish. This is not bad at all considering I won’t have to cook for the next five days.
One with chicken, rice, and beans. The chicken was diced and marinated with lemon juice, dry Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and fresh garlic. Then I froze the chicken (with the marinade) in the freezer and so all I had to do to prepare it was thaw and cook in the skillet till cooked through.
Then I had two meals with chicken, sweet potatoes, and a side of vegetable medley with mushrooms, onions, and zucchini.
And Lastly I had four meals with beef tips, peppers and onions, broccoli, and rice or sweet potatoes. One of the steak meals I ate that night because I was starving by the end of all this cooking.
So all in all I think the meal prep was a success. Over the past few months I have lost 30 lbs and I know that 90% of that is because of meal prep. If the meal is ready and I don’t have to cook it then I will eat it. Also I hate to waste the food so I will eat it instead of going to buy something else and letting this spoil.
If you haven’t tried meal prepping before, give it a shot. Let me know how you like it. What are your favorite meals or foods to prep for the week?