Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Meal Prepping 101: How & What I Meal Prep
Meal prepping is something I have started doing religiously in the past year (or two?). The few times I have missed it, I just feel so off that week. It's one of those things I need to do to set myself up for a successful week - at least when it comes to eating.
I used to not be a huge fan of doing meal preps. In the beginning it felt like I was spending so much time on it, when really, on Sundays, you just want to be out doing fun things or relaxing - not meal prepping. Fortunately, I have found my rhythm and some key shortcuts that have really helped me speed things up.
First things first - you need to come up with a meal plan. I prep for my breakfasts, snacks and lunches. Occasionally for dinner, but more often than not, that gets made the night of, or night before depending on what it is. I am able to eat the same thing over and over (most the time), so I keep things very simple when planning for those meals.
Breakfast - egg & spinach mini quiches / muffins
Snack - strawberries
Lunch - chicken & salad
Snack - Greek yogurt & blueberries with cinnamon
Side note: I always try to be aware of these things when I am at the grocery store, so if there is a good sale on lettuce, or yogurt, or chicken strips, I always stock up.
I make a list of things I am planning on prepping by meal, and start going. First up on the egg & spinach mini quiches/muffins. Or frittatas - whatever you want to call them! I shared this mini quiche recipe, and that's mainly what I got off of, but have since switched up the ingredients. Spray your muffin pan liberally with Pam, fill the tins with a good amount of torn spinach, then prepare your eggs. I have done this various ways - I scramble all 12 together, add my pepper, then try to pour equal amounts into each tin. I have also individually scrambled an egg for each tin, too, at the advice of my sister in law. Honestly, that is probably the way to go, because I always get uneven amounts when I try to pour the whole bunch at once. They go into a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Once I take them out, they cool and then I pop two in little snack baggies. I keep three in the fridge for Monday through Wednesday, and freeze the others. I try to remember to pull one out of the freezer the night before, that way it can thaw. Otherwise they just have to be microwaved for a bit longer.
Next, I tackle the fruit. I keep the blueberries in their packaging when I rinse them off, then just place a folded paper towel underneath for the extra water that hasn't drained. They go back into the fridge, and I put two handfuls in a baggie each morning for my yogurt. I worry they would get weird if I separated them all on Sunday, and it takes no time at all to put them in the bag in the morning, or even the night before. I rinse my strawberries, then cut them up. Those go into individual containers. I bought these little containers that are just over 1 cup, so I know exactly how much I am getting. Makes portion control super easy!
I tend to my lettuce after the fruit. Depending on prices, I either buy lettuce that is already washed multiple times, or I purchase lettuce that I need to wash myself. If it is lettuce that is already washed, I just chop it all up and into containers it goes. If I need to wash it myself, I usually do that first thing - chop it all up, wash, then lay out on paper towels to dry. I like to do it before all other meal prepping, because my counter top space is limited. This way I don't want to do it mid-prep and have to stop for a little bit to let it dry. Along with lettuce, I cut up red pepper and cucumbers. One of the shortcuts I use is buying matchstick carrots. Cutting carrots is just not my thing, so this takes all of that work out and I can just grab a bunch to add to my salad. Easy peasy!
The other shortcut I use is one I have mentioned on here before, in my 'Thing I Am Loving' post back in January. Frozen chicken strips. I used to cook chicken, and that just seemed time consuming to marinade it, grill, and then chop up. If I didn't grill it, then I would use the slow cooker sometimes, but it still seemed a little bit more of a hassle than I wanted for a Sunday. Not to mention both ways dirtied extra dishes. My mom told me about these frozen chicken strips forever ago and in the last few months I just recently remembered them. I love them. I fill up a little Tupperware either the night before, or that morning and heat it up at lunch. Like the carrots, the chicken strips are just something I find super easy and helpful for meal prepping. My grocery store has two different brands, so I usually go for the cheapest one, and like I mentioned earlier, stock up when one is on sale.
To make things even easier for myself, I group everything together for the day in one area in my fridge. Unfortunately, my salad dressing cannot be refrigerated, otherwise I would pack it all in my lunch so I am ready to go. (I found that if I pack it in my bag and plan on grabbing my dressing, I forget my dressing, and salad without dressing is just not for me.) I keep cinnamon at my desk, that way I can add as much as I want to my yogurt. It is easier for me to get one for work and one for home, that way I didn't have to bring it back and forth and chance forgetting it - which had happened more than once!
That's really the process of how I meal prep, as well as what I actually meal prep. It takes less than an hour, which I feel like is well worth it. I now am a believer in meal prepping and find that it helps me start off the week on the right foot and for healthy eating for the week. I know some people can't eat the same thing over and over again, but I find that if I just switch things up for dinner and on the weekends, then I don't mind it. Of course, there are days where I want something different, so an occasional lunch out just means that I have a super easy dinner all ready for that night, or it keeps until the next day. But being prepared, really helps to keep you on course.
I am curious to know - do you meal prep?
Linking up with Lindsay & Whitney.