Food. I looooove food. It's likely one of the biggest reasons I workout like I do. #GIVEMEALLTHEFOOD! I wish I could say workout and you can eat whatever you want but unfortunately the cookie doesn't crumble that way. Your eating comprises 80% of the results you see. So whether that's losing weight, maintaining weight, gaining muscle or any other health goal what you choose to fuel your body with will make HUGE impacts. Not to mention how wonderful we feel when we fuel our body with the nutrients it needs to thrive.
In a world where we all have our focus on different things sometimes making sure there is good food to eat all throughout the week can be a challenge. Enter food/meal prep. I began prepping about eight years ago. More out of necessity than want really. I was working long hours as a teacher/coach and I knew having to pack my lunch in the morning would interfere with my sleep (ahhh...the days of sleep) and as a teacher I NEVER at the school food but let's not get me up on that soap box. I started with what I needed at school for the day. A lunch item and some snacks, generally fruit and raw veggies. Lunch was usually a chicken salad of some sort. Very simple but it worked for me. Since then my prep has evolved significantly and I hope it continues to do so throughout life.
How do I approach prep? Good question. Everyone has to find their FITT. What works for me/us is I prepare a menu for the week. All the meals I want to make available for us to eat throughout the week for lunch/dinner. With my schedule the way it is, I am working four nights a week, I usually cook two meals on Sunday and two on Monday as well as a few staples (roasted veggies, HB eggs, raw veggies prepped, fruit prepped). Then it's up to the crew what they eat for lunch/dinner each day.
Menu for this week
Turkey Chili with Pumpkin Maple Cornbread
Grilled Stuffed Burritos
Pan Roasted Chicken Thighs
Red Beans & Rice (minus the rice for us)
Here's how it goes down...grocery shopping on Saturday if we can pull it off and then hit the ground Sunday morning with cooking/prepping.
I typically always use carrots, peppers, red onion, and brussel sprouts and depending on the season I add veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, squash, green beans, etc. Pick and choose what you like. Cut the veggies into chunks, spread out on the sheet pan. I then drizzle them with olive oil (coconut oil works too), sprinkle with salt (very little), pepper and garlic powder. All.the.garlic. Mix them up on the pan and then put into a 400 degree preheated oven for 25 minutes. Stir and back in the oven for another 20 minutes. When you take them out give them a good stir so they don't stick to the pan. Done. Veggies for snacking and/or meal times.
This has now become our breakfast staple. With focused mornings there really is no time for cooking but I want to make sure we start our day out right. Good choices made in the morning aid in good choices made throughout the day. Dice up ALL.THE.VEGGIES! There is a trend in my cooking. 😉 I use kale, spinach, zucchini, squash, green onion, red onion, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant and more. Not typically all at once but you get the idea. Almost anything will do...probably not cucumber though. 😉 Crack in 16 eggs, this makes for a two-egg serving, or when I'm going for a super hearty casserole I'll use 18, pour in a little almond milk (or regular milk) for some fluffiness and pepper because life is better spicy. 🙂 Whisk it all up and pour into a generously sprayed with nonstick cooking spray 9x13 pan. Do this step just before going into your 350 degree preheated oven. Cook 30-50 minutes depending how hearty casserole is that week. Cool and cut into 8 servings. Breakfast.
This weeks recipe isn't own of my own creation but it is one of my favorites. I doubled the recipe. If we don't get thru the chili during the week I will freeze in containers. Once my freezer stocks up a bit there are some weeks where I hardly cook at all, win! Oh and this chili also makes for a great add to huevos rancheros if that's your sort of thing. 🙂
(The oregano comment is not mine, just on the recipe, I use the oregano.)
Pumpkin Maple Cornbread
Friday is Fall y'all, why not some pumpkin?! I didn't have quite enough maple syrup so I substituted in molasses which you can do 1:1 with maple syrup. I also used a gluten free baking blend for the whole wheat flour. Looking forward to this meal!
Get recipe here
Red Beans & Rice
My crock pot meal for the week. All weeks usually include a crock pot meal. It's easy to set it and forget it until it's ready. Makes cooking two meals in a day easy peasy. Just so it's easier for Monday morning I got all the ingredients I could ready to go so I just dump it and head back to 6-10 hours later. Love it. We've had this meal before and like it just fine without the rice but if you want rice I suggest brown rice.
Get recipe here
Grilled Stuffed Burritos - a family favorite hands down. I make my own burrito meat. Lean ground turkey cooked with onion and garlic (all the garlic remember) ;). Then I season with chili powder, cayenne, cumin, coriander, salt and garlic powder. I don't know measurements as I just eye-ball it. I added sauteed peppers and onions as well as refried beans to the meat mixture (2 lbs of ground turkey). This yields 8+ burritos so we have leftover goodness for the week here too. Put the meat mixture on the tortilla and top with cabbage, tomato and cheese. Roll it up and butter (Soy Free Earth Balance) one side and put on griddle to brown. Butter other side, flip to finish. This may not be our "healthiest" meal of the week with that soft, fluffy tortilla but I load those babies up with veggies so it's all good. Everything in moderation right?! 😉
Seared Chicken Thighs
My favorite way to eat chicken thighs and very easy as well. I'll cook these Monday and they will provide some leftovers as well. These leftovers are best reheated in the broiler, keeps the skin nice and crisp. Get the recipe here!
I think this about covers it. Like I mentioned for someone just beginning that may be more than you would want to tackle your first time. So how do you start? Another great question. Pick one or two meals and a staple (roasted veggies, which could just be brussel sprouts, you don't have to have all that I mentioned or HB eggs, something like that) that you can have throughout the week. Get comfortable with that and then start adding in more foods/meals. This is eight years of prepping at work and I'm sure I have more ways I can grow with my food prep. When I cook multiple meals in a day I usually have two going on once and/or using a crock pot makes making two meals much easier.
FoodFITT MATTERS and if you can find healthy meals you enjoy you are on a winning path. I find my recipes in magazines, on Pinterest and do a little creating on my own as well. If you have any questions about meal/food prep please do no hesitate to ask and if you have an amazing recipe to share please do that too! I love adding new meals to our menu. Creating your FITT life includes food.
Does meal/food prep sound like something you would like to try? Do you already prep? What is a food staple at your home?