I get asked a lot about my meal prep – what do I make? how long does it take? etc, etc. If you have been reading this blog, you’ll see I have definitely been slacking in the “Sunday Prep Day” department the past few months but I was able to sneak in a little meal prep last week and I am excited to finally be able to share with you an example of what that looks like.
While I have a shelf full of aesthetically appealing cookbooks with their colourful and healthy recipes just staring at me, begging to be made, I don’t have much time these days to plan and shop according to specific recipes. This is something I will definitely make more of an effort to do in the new year but until then my beautiful Deliciously Ella and Oh She Glows hardcovers will need to collect a few more dust bunnies while I buy the simplest ingredients to make the most amount of food in the least amount of time.
Keep in mind I am just cooking for my husband and myself. And it is also important to note that my extremely fit (swoon) hubby eats like a teenage caveman so this specific prep really only brought us to Wednesday…fail. That’s the thing with meal prepping – it is a lot of trial and error – sometimes I have way too much food that I can’t even get through and other times I am resorting back to UberEATS by Thursday.
My strategy, while clearly not always accurate, starts with a look at my calendar to see how many dinners I will actually get to eat at home. Between balancing work, family and social engagements I find we sometimes only have 1-2 dinners at home. From there I try and make enough food for 5 days worth of breakfasts, lunches and snacks, all to be eaten at work, and then however many dinners we need.
I will then grocery shop (in hopefully under 45 minutes) and as soon as I come home, pre-heat the oven so it’s ready to go once the groceries are unpacked. From start to clean up I would estimate I am in the kitchen for about 2 hours total.
Keep reading to find out how I prepare everything, what it was used for and how you can do your own quick and easy meal prep!
Grains & Carbs
The first things I always prep are my sweet potatoes simply because they take the longest to bake. I buy 4 large ones, cut them into 2 inch cubes, drizzle a little olive oil on and toss with good salt and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes (depending how strong your oven is). We eat them all week as either a side dish with dinner, or throw them in a salad for lunch.
I either make a pot of brown rice or quinoa depending on what I have in my pantry. I prepare approximately 2 cups dry which makes about 4 cups cooked. I try and limit my serving size to 1/2 cup for each meal. I love throwing rice and quinoa into salad, soup or just as a side dish with some Tamari sauce.
There’s nothing worse than a sad piece of dried up, grilled chicken, especially when you are trying to watch your diet. After so many attempts and experiments I think I have finally mastered the easiest way to make a simple and healthy piece of chicken that is actually juicy and flavourful. I always buy the club packs of organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts that are hormone and antibiotic free. It is definitely much more expensive but this is something I choose to spend my money on as it is important to me – don’t judge. I spread the chicken on a baking sheet with parchment paper so there is no need for non-stick oils and sprays. I then sprinkle on garlic powder, onion powder and dried herbs (about 2 tsps each), squeeze some fresh lemon on and add salt and pepper. So simple and so quick. Pop the sheet in the oven where your potatoes are already baking for about 30 minutes. Once they are fully cooked through, I let them cool and then cut the chicken into strips so it is easy to portion out and pack for lunch.
I am really into ground meats these days and turkey is a great, lean option. Ground meat is so versatile and can be used in pasta sauces, lettuce wraps, chilies, the list goes on. Lately however, I have been making this easy mixture of turkey, onions and mushrooms and just throwing it over some grains or vegetables. It really is the quickest and easiest thing to make. Simply dice and saute 1 white onion with 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan, when the onions are soft add in the ground turkey meat. As it begins to brown, thrown in a pack of mushrooms. I add in a splash of Tamari, tiny bit of toasted sesame oil and a dash of brown rice vinegar. Done like dinner.
Hard Boiled Eggs:
Eggs are another item I choose to spend a little more money on. I go for eggs from pasture-fed, free run chickens. Hard boiling them is my favourite way to prepare them and I must add I am an eggshell peeling connoisseur. I typically pack 2 hard boiled eggs for breakfast along with a brown rice cake and some avocado. It’s a good mix of macro-nutrients that sorta keeps me full…until my pre-lunch snack (let’s be honest, nothing really keeps me full these days thanks to all the spin classes I teach).
Fruits & Veggies:
I love having raw veggies and fruits already prepared in the fridge. They make the best snacks and prevent me from grabbing an unhealthier option. Problem is, they are by far the worst part about prepping. Between the washing, the peeling, the chopping – it actually makes a huge mess and takes the longest amount of time. It is definitely my least favourite part of meal prep. Saying that, I think they are actually the most important items to prep because I will be less likely to touch them if they are still sitting in their original form in the fridge. My favourites to make are kale (duh!) for salads, celery to dip in almond butter, carrots to eat with hummus and strawberries for something sweeter to snack on.
I also love preparing roasted veggies as a side dish for dinner and usually gravitate towards broccoli and asparagus. I make them both in the fastest (read: laziest) way possible. Toss/brush some olive oil on, season with salt, pepper and dried minced garlic and pop in the oven for 20 minutes.
As you can see, each dish is prepared in the quickest and simplest way to get me out of the kitchen and back to eating as soon as possible. I look forward to having more time in 2017 to experiment with proper recipes, but until then I will enjoy my baked chicken and roasted broccoli!