How to get your healthy lifestyle more organized, balanced and successful? OMG meal plan, prep and batch cooking ........do this and healthy eating will be easier and you will be more successful. I know I had every excuse in the book for not doing it. I was cooking for a couple clients and wasn't doing it for myself!! Crap I needed to get on this!
(Mexican Zucchini Boats Recipe Scroll Down)
I created a plan and guide for doing this whole thing more efficiently and budget friendly!! Now you can do it too! Real Food Real Quick is a 21 Day program to get you back in the swing of being prepared for your healthy eating! Guides, recipes and shopping lists for all 3 weeks!
Here are some quick ideas for preparing meals ahead of time......... It will save you time and give you ready to go options when hunger strikes.
Here are 14 ways to make it happen.
Overnight Oats: combine oatmeal with fruit and let it soak overnight
Casserole: veggies + protein + grain baked together, cut into individual portions and reheat
Grilled Protein: cooking up several pounds of chicken breast and either shredding or dicing will make it easier to incorporate into other meals throughout the week
Chia Pudding: combine nondairy milk with chia seeds and allow to soak overnight similar to overnight oats
Pancakes and Waffles: easy to freeze individually and microwave to prepare
Smoothies: create individual smoothie packs minus the liquid and freeze; minimize the amount of ice needed and keep morning prep minimal
Chili: make a big batch and eat plain, serve over noodles, zoodles or even a baked potato
Soup: a hearty meal that can be reheated and served over several days
Mason Jar Salads: layer ingredients from heaviest to most delicate in a mason jar and shake to distribute dressing throughout
Adult Lunchables: use bento boxes to pre-make a series of lunches featuring protein + crackers + veggies + fruit
The core idea of meal prep is to plan for a set number of days (typically a week) by buying ingredients, cooking your meals or prepping your ingredients, and storing them appropriately in your kitchen for easy access. In doing so, you can save time throughout the week, limit yourself to a set amount of food/calories and stay within your food budget.
Meal Prep Can Save You Money
If you’re looking to save money — and time — in the kitchen, meal prep is the way to go. Here are just a few ways you’ll save money by meal prepping:
You can avoid going out to dinner at expensive restaurants when you’re feeling too lazy to cook. Even $8 trips to Chipotle or fast-food drive-thrus add up; you could use the $8 you spend on one meal to buy protein, like chicken breasts, for half a week of meals.
You won’t have to buy a ton of varied ingredients for different meals each night. Forget lasagna on Monday, tacos on Tuesday and steak on Wednesday. By meal prepping, you can focus on one or two meal types per week using different spices and side combos to keep your taste buds engaged all week long. You also won’t risk your ingredients or your leftovers going bad.
You’ll find yourself running your dishwasher less frequently. Rather than dirtying pots, pans, cutting boards and utensils up to three times a day, you’ll just have major dish duty once a week. The rest of the week, you’ll only have to worry about rinsing your meal prep containers and small eating utensils. Not only will this reduce your water bill, but it’ll also make an impact — small, but still important — on the environment.
Meal Prep is Healthy Too
Many people choose to meal prep so they can monitor their food intake. Whether you count calories or just want to keep a food journal, meal prepping makes analyzing your diet easy and helps you maintain a healthy meal plan.
Sticking to a meal-planning calendar also means you can avoid the temptation to go out to eat during work or have impromptu ice cream for dessert.
How to Get Started with Meal Prep
If you’re new to meal prepping, there are a few things you can do to guarantee success.
The most important thing you can do when starting any new regimen — whether it is exercising regularly, reading more or changing your diet — is to start small to avoid burnout.
Consider focusing on just one meal each day, like prepping your lunch for work all week. Alternatively, try to tackle three days’ worth of prep rather than an entire week’s worth. You can work up to your ultimate meal prep goals over time.
Buy Meal Prep Supplies
If this foray into meal prep marks a new you in the kitchen, you may need to stock up on more than just groceries. Invest in quality kitchen supplies now, knowing that you’ll earn back that money in saved expenses over time.
For example, if you will be cutting a lot of veggies, buy quality knives. Not sure where to start? GoodHouseKeeping.com has a few knife recommendations to consider.
More importantly, invest in good meal prep storage containers. Typically, glass containers are better than plastic in terms of longevity, especially if you’ll be microwaving. Buy BPA-free products, and consider things like food separation, size and airtightness, as well as whether they can go in the freezer, dishwasher and microwave. TheSweetHome.com tested several types and brands of meal prep containers to determine the best choice for serious meal preppers.
Save Money at the Grocery Store
Use our meal prep grocery store hacks to save big when buying food for meal prep.
Always make a list. Before you set foot in a grocery store, research what meals you will be prepping that week. Take stock of what you already have at home, and add anything you need to your list — and abide by it.
Don’t go hungry. Shopping with a full belly goes hand in hand with making a list. If you’re armed with a list of what you need and a satisfied belly, you won’t be tempted to grab that bag of frozen Tater Tots.
Leave the plastic at home — and use a calculator. Strand yourself at the store with just the amount of cash you are willing to spend. Make sure to use the calculator on your phone to calculate sales tax as you go. This will ensure you always stay within your meal prep budget.
Buy generic and in bulk. There is no shame in buying the generic brand for most foods. In fact, take pride in knowing you are a savvy shopper when you buy generic. Likewise, if you have enough storage at home, buy food items that don’t expire quickly in bulk. This goes for paper products, cleaning supplies and frequently used spices.
How to Store Your Meal Prep
If you have mastered the planning and the cooking portions of meal prep, you’ll now need to store your foods successfully. MyBodyMyKitchen.com offers the following tips:
Refrigerate for no more than a few days. When refrigerating, use airtight containers and consider adding fresh veggies to your refrigerated meals when you heat them up.
Freeze food you want to store for more than four days. Just remember to pull a meal out of the freezer and place it in the fridge the night before you intend to eat it — that way, it will have thawed out by grub time.
However, remember that not all foods can be stored in the freezer. Foods to avoid freezing include eggs, dairy products and cooked pasta.
Make space in your cabinets for foods that do not need to be kept cold. Consider having a dedicated and organized pantry solely for meal prep, where you can store items like protein bars, homemade trail mixes and bags of munchies.
More Meal Prep Tips
The most important thing to remember when meal prepping is to plan ahead. Or let me do that for you...Shop my Meal Plans HERE. Research meal prep recipes that make sense for your diet and means, buy the necessary ingredients, and set aside the time to make those meals.
Many expert meal preppers set aside a few hours one day each week.
Sunday meal prep could potentially get you through the whole week, but if you like to prep for just a few days at a time, you can prep the first half of the week on Sunday and use Wednesday meal prep to take you into the weekend. It’s also possible to do a little meal prep each morning or evening.
Keep in mind, meal prepping doesn’t mean you have to cook everything all at once.
Set aside time to wash and cut up all the fruits and veggies you’ll be using that week and bake your proteins; then, on the day you’ll be eating that meal, you can put the ingredients together or cook up the veggies as desired.
Likewise, you can simply set aside food items in known locations (like that dedicated pantry) to make them easier to access when it comes time to cook — for example, setting aside two slices of bread in separate containers for each day of the week will give you easy access to make toast in the mornings.
Mexican Zucchini Burrito Boats
4 large zucchini
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup salsa (use your preferred level of spiciness)
1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 jalapeno (or poblano pepper), cored and diced
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
salt to taste
½-1 cup shredded cheddar/monterey jack cheese
Start by greasing a 9 x 13” casserole dish then set aside. Slice each zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a melon baller or metal teaspoon, hollow out the center of each zucchini. Lightly brush the tops with one teaspoon of olive oil then place them skin side down in the casserole dish.
Next warm the tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and the peppers and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add the rice, corn, and beans along with the salsa, chili powder and cumin. Stir everything together and continue to cook for about 5 minutes then remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F and then stir in 1/4 cup of the cilantro and salt to taste to the filling. Spoon the filling inside of each zucchini until they are all full. Sprinkle each one with cheese then arrange them in the dish and cover with foil. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes then remove the foil and set the oven to broil. Cook them for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
Allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes then top with fresh cilantro and serve. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
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