I’m not always consistent about having a lot of food prepped in the beginning of the week but I will admit that I usually have my staples for the week. It usually takes me 2-3 hours (around 4-7pm) every Sunday to cook several meals that I can grab and go throughout the week. Most of these meals do NOT consist of dinner meals as I usually make them fresh daily. As a busy stay-at-home-working-mom who is constantly on the go it’s important to be prepared, after all, it is often said, that “if you fail to plan, plan to fail.”
Diet plays the most important role in your fitness process, for it’s not what you output for one hour at the gym so much as what you input for the 23 hours when you are not inside the gym! Everybody is different, so follow your own tastes and tolerances and not use my example as the ‘end all be all’. My preparation has changed throughout the years as I have grown a lot of intolerance against protein shakes (which I used to have daily) and many wheat products.
Since I have children, it’s important that they constantly have snacks ready for them. Besides what I pictured here, there are several other snacks I keep on hand such as Chobani yogurt sticks (frozen in the freezer), string cheese, trail mix bars and their favorite cereal (Envirokids Peanut Butter Panda Puffs).
Here are my food prep tips:
1. Make your food taste good. In the beginning I would eat bland foods like chicken breast, broccoli and brown rice. While I still do that, I also have more variety in what I can choose from. I honestly can’t eat plain chicken breast anymore.
2. Prepare 3-4 days in advance. Sometimes if you cook more than you need to you end up wasting food.
3. For the vegetables and fruits that need to be cut and cooked daily put them in a place you can see daily. I have mine out on the counter.
4. You can pre-pack in tupperware containers to make it easier to grab and go. I usually like to choose what combinations I want to put into the tupperware daily so I don’t pre-package anymore.
5. I love eating raw, ‘live’ foods most – so don’t be intimidated by the preparation process. Some foods don’t require any cooking! Like salads, fruits and certain vegetables.
6. This will take time to master, especially if you are new to cooking in advance, but you will become more efficient as you continue to cook weekly.
Here is what I cooked this week:
1. BOILED EGGS: I try to eat protein with each meal and have found boiled eggs to be the handiest thing to have when on the go. I can either eat them as is or mash it up and add pepper and some fat free mayo or avocado to give it some texture and taste. I don’t always eat all the yolks, most often its a 1 to 3 ratio.
2. AVOCADOS: I love this unsaturated, healthy fat. I always have fresh ones on hand to either make into guacamole for my husband or add to my sauteed egg whites in the morning. I believe avocado makes everything tastes better!
3. VEGAN COOKIES: My cookie jar is always stocked with either healthy muffins or cookies for my children. In fact, I don’t think they’ve ever tasted store bought cookies, except for at the occasional birthday party.
4. BAGGED VEGGIES/SALAD MIX: I bought string beans and pre-made salad mixes. Typically I only use 1/3 of the dressing provided in any of the packages to decrease the calories and sugar. I usually eat this at night when I serve my family something more starchy and I opt for a lighter menu.
5. FRESH FRUITS: I picked these miniature peaches from my friend’s yard today. My boys often eat 2-3 fruits a day. I will probably make these into muffins later on in the week as it gets more ripe.
6. APPLES/LEMONS/LIMES: Apples is my favorite fruit to eat for energy. They are low on the glycemic index and great pre or post workout. Our family favorite are pink ladies. I also have a bowl of lemons on our counter at all times as I squeeze lemon juice in all my waters to give it taste and help detox me.
7. BANANA MUFFINS: I bake banana muffins weekly. We always have a couple bananas that are too ripe to eat and my mother often gives me her ripe bananas to bake with. The boys love this simple and healthy recipe.
8. FROZEN BLUEBERRIES: I have to emphasis ‘frozen’ because that’s how we like to eat them in our household. I always wash them after buying and put the entire container in the freezer. It’s usually the first thing I eat in the morning followed by my egg whites 30 minutes after.
9. BROCCOLI SALAD: My girlfriend helped me make this dish today. I love broccoli salad! We used 3/4 cup of my smart beat mayo. 2tbs apple cider vinegar and 2 tbs honey for the dressing. I also used almonds instead of sunflower seeds (I wasn’t prepared to make this obviously) and didn’t add any raisins (to lower the sugar content).
10. SHREDDED CHICKEN: I like to keep cooked chicken in the fridge mostly because if I need to fix a quick dinner (like chicken enchiladas made with whole wheat tortillas and fat free cheese) I have it on hand. I can also add some smartbeat mayo and make a quick chicken salad.
11. CUCUMBERS: I don’t often have cucumbers on hand, but I was craving it at the store today and plan on making cucumber salad this week. Again, I’m all about the raw, ‘live’ foods.
12. TUNA SALAD: One of my absolute favorite things to eat. Canned tuna made with smartbeat mayo, red onion, avocado and pepper.
13. MANGO SALSA: This is a family favorite. I’ve never been a big fan of tomatoes but I can eat spoonfuls of this salsa. Just like avocado it seems like adding it to any dish makes everything better. This portion size usually lasts us just a couple days as my husband is a huge fan (and so is baby!)
14. ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH: I usually roast squash and sweet potatoes to prep my carbs for the week. I’ve been trying to be ‘more paleo’ and haven’t been intaking much oatmeal in the morning. Instead I either have my blueberries or squash with my egg whites. I can also eat this with any of my other protein choices. I love it because it’s sweet and savory. I add olive oil and salt and place it in a 425 degree oven for 25-30 minutes (time depends if I cut it in halves or quarters).
15. STRAWBERRIES: This fruit is a constant in our household. The boys love it and so do I. Funny that when I was young, I used to dip them in sugar when I consumed it. I can’t believe I used to do that! It’s so sweet naturally on its own.
16. TURKEY MEATBALLS: Family Staple! Very easy to make and the boys love it! I’ve changed my original recipe somewhat to accommodate my wheat intolerance. I add garlic, onion, parsley, spinach, almond flour, egg, salt, a dash of worcestershire sauce and mix with lean ground turkey meat. I place in a 350 degree oven for 15-17 minutes (if they are baking in miniature muffin tins).