New Year’s Resolution: More Food Prep

**WARNING**  This is a very long post that has absolutely nothing to do with my Angel Baby.

Under the main resolution comes an entire host of other resolutions related, but they can all pretty much be summed up with more food prep.  I.E.  eat better, eat out less (especially at lunch time), drink more water, eat more veggies, get back in shape, etc.

The past few years I had begun living a much ‘healthier’ lifestyle, but around the time I got pregnant last year I kind of fell off the wagon.  I don’t blame that just on the pregnancy, but also being married to a meat and potatoes, I don’t care for trying new unconventional foods man, and moving from a city to the boondocks.  With that move I lost my favorite grocery store, crossfit box, and workout buddy. *Tears*  Within the healthier lifestyle phase of my life I had become VERY good and disciplined with weekly food prep.

What is Food Prep?  It’s taking a few hours at some point (usually the weekend) to prep some food for the week to make your life easier, so that you can make better  food decisions throughout your week.  I had even gotten to where when I would prep something that would be baked for supper (I’m in the South, dinner is at lunch, and supper is in the evening) later in the week that I would go ahead and make a double or triple batch and store the extra one in the freezer, such as enchiladas, pasta bakes, burgers, meatballs, etc.  I would typically prep all of my breakfasts and lunches for the work week, as well as plan out at least 2 suppers for the week.  I would chop and prep everything for the suppers where all that I needed to do was either throw it all together or throw a casserole dish in the oven.  I would even measure out spices and put in little baggies, or go ahead and mix up the sauce.  If I was cooking rice or grains, I would go ahead and cook the entire box and freeze what I wasn’t going to use that week to make my food prep easier for future weeks.  I was on fleek with my food prep game.  Did I use that word right?  Probably not…..

Where do you start?  I would take an inventory of what was in my fridge, freezer, pantry that needed to be used up.  I would then think about what I could use to throw things together to make a meal out of it.  Such as, apples in the fridge, and pork chops in the freezer?  Pork Chops and Apple Sauce for one of my weeknight suppers.  I would typically make something that would last the entire week for breakfast (think muffins, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos, overnight oats, pancakes, egg cups) and for lunches (think protein veggie bowls, salads with roasted veggies, zoodles).  I knew that if I got tired of something I could change it up in the mornings with some toast and eggs or for lunch with some leftovers from supper.

Some of my favorites:

Breakfasts

1.)  Pancake Muffins – Mix up your favorite store bought pancake batter (whole wheat!), adding in some fresh or frozen chopped fruit and/or chopped turkey bacon or sausage.  Pour the batter into muffin tins and back at 350 until the tops are set and the edges start getting golden brown.  *Bonus*  These freeze GREAT!

2.)  Peanut Butter Banana Oat Muffins  – This is probably by far my favorite thing to do with bananas that are about to go bad!  Because of my peanut butter obsession I use pb chips instead of chocolate chips.  you don’t have greek yogurt on hand, you can sub another smashed banana and they still come out wonderful.

3.)  Smoothie Packs – Great for the summer time!  Take your favorite smoothie recipe and add everything except the liquid into a freezer friendly ziplock bag.  Pull out in the morning and blend with water, milk, almond milk, or coconut water.  My absolute favorite smoothie is a combo of frozen cherries and coconut water, it sounds weird, but it’s OH SO YUM!  *Bonus*  Using frozen fruit gives you a slushie consistency without having to use any ice.

4.)  Overnight Oats– These are some basic recipes, but the possibilities are endless.  *Bonus*  These freeze GREAT!

5.)  Breakfast Sandwiches/Burritos – Scramble up a bunch of eggs, cook up a bunch of turkey bacon or sausage, and assemble with either whole wheat tortillas or english muffins with some cheese.  Wrap these up in some plastic wrap, and place in freezer friendly gallon ziplock bags.  *Bonus*  These freeze great, so go ahead and use up all the eggs and tortillas that you have!

6.)  Egg Muffins – Sauté up some veggies, onions, mushrooms, spinach.  Let them cool before adding to a bowl with some raw eggs or egg whites ( I find it easier to use the carton of egg whites).  Pour up into muffin tins, and back at 350 until eggs are set and edges are brown.  Store in fridge, heat as needed.  *Tip*  Use muffin tin liners, these stick, and make cleaning your muffin tin a nightmare if you don’t use liners.

Funny story…..These egg muffins are actually how my husband knew that I was pregnant.  He called it about 2 weeks before we found out.  I had been making and eating these for breakfast about 3 weeks in a row.  I heated them up one morning, took one bite, and was totally grossed out!  Throughout my entire pregnancy the thought of eggs was revolting to me.

Lunches

My lunches are either in Bento Box form or throw in lots of different things into a lunch container and top with a dressing.

Mix & Match Bento Box Components:  Chopped veggies (carrots, peppers, celery, zucchini, etc), hummus, pb, fruits (grapes, berries, apples, cherries, etc), roasted veggies (butternut squash, acorn squash, onions, spaghetti squash, green beans, chick peas, sweet potato, etc), chicken/tuna salad (canned chicken/tuna mixed with greek yogurt, seasoning, and balsamic vinegar), cubed cheese, whole wheat crackers, boiled eggs, avocado.

Protein Veggie Bowl Components:  1/4 cup grain (remember above when I mentioned freezing extras, I like quinoa and barley), protein (chicken, tuna, frozen turkey meatballs, etc), roasted veggies (see above), nuts, salad mix (I like the prewashed arugula and baby spinach mix), raw veggies (see above), black beans, edamame, and dressing.  *Tip*  Don’t add your dressing in until you’re ready to eat, or your greens will get soggy.  I either take a small bottle of store bought light oil/vinegar based dressing to work or make a batch of dressing and take it to work in a mason jar to use for the week.  Right now I have a slight obsession with the Kraft Asian Sesame Dressing and the home made Maple Tahini Dressing (google it).

Suppers – To me, because the hubs will typically be eating suppers with me, this meal doesn’t have to be super healthy.  All things in moderation, right?  It’s just about having something home made and adding in veggies or making healthier swaps where I can.  These are all things that can be made ahead on your food prep day, and either be stored in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready for them.  If it’s a freezer meal, just place it in the fridge the night before you’re ready to make it.

Enchiladas – I use either ground turkey/chicken/lean beef or grilled chicken, whole wheat tortillas, and throw in veggies where I can, frozen corn, black beans, onions, mushrooms, etc.  You can use the regular store bought enchilada sauce, or you can use this  Recipe for a killer white enchilada sauce.  *Bonus*  These freeze GREAT!  *TIP* If you’re freezing use canned mushrooms, fresh ones will get slimy in the freezer.

Pasta Bakes – Wheat pasta, store bought sauce, protein, and lots of veggies. Dump it all in a baking dish and top with Mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 350 until cheese is brown and bubbly, usually around 30 min.  You’re already cooking, you might as well use the entire box or 2 boxes of pasta, and all the sauce and fill up as many pans as you can.  Because there’s just 2 of us, I like to use the 8×8 pans.  I usually fill up 3 pans at once, 2 for the freezer and 1 for the week.

Preassembled Crockpot Meals – Y’all, these were an absolute life saver the first few weeks I was home from the hospital.  I had made up about 10 while I was pregnant.  My favorites come from New Leaf Wellness, but Pinterest is full of them!  Dump all your ingredients into a gallon freezer friendly ziplock, label it, and freeze.  Pull it out the night before you’re ready to cook, dump it all in the crockpot the next day and come home to a cooked meal, just like you had a house wife.  🙂  *Tip*  If you’re going to be gone all day, you need one of those slow cookers that you can set to start at a certain time, and cut off at a certain time.  Since my hubs works nights, he’s there during the day and can turn it on when I need him to.

 

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My stocked freezer before Angel Baby came

Once you kind of know what you’re going to cook for supper each night, read through the recipes and think of anything you can go ahead and do.  Chop veggies, marinate meats, measure out spices, this just makes your life SO much easier during the week, and it’s less dishes to do when you all the other things to do before you have to get in bed.

For nights that I haven’t planned anything there is usually something that can be thrown together because I try to stay well stocked.  Freezer:  pre-cooked grilled chicken (either store bought or home made), cooked ground beef, shrimp, tilapia, chopped peppers and onions, frozen corn, frozen fruit, tortillas, hamburger buns, quinoa, rice, biscuits, sausage, pork chops, etc.  Fridge:  cheese, turkey bacon, eggs, salsa, sour cream, bbq sauce, etc.  Pantry:  bread, tortilla chips, crackers, pasta, pasta sauces, enchilada sauces, pancake mix, etc.  My favorite throw together meals are spaghetti with ground meat sauce, chicken or shrimp alfredo, tacos, nachos, sloppy joe’s, and of course, breakfast.

Snacks:  bananas (how sad is it that I have to sing the song when I spell that word?), apples with go-cup of peanut butter, and trail mix (any combo of your favorite nuts, dark chocolate chips, dried cranberries, dried bananas, dried apricots, toasted coconut, etc.

My Food Prep inspiration came when I started following The Lean Green Bean, I still get most of my recipes from links that she puts up on her Bean Bytes post that she does every Monday.  Other than that I just keep up with what works for us, and what we’re just not too fond of.  Also, something that I think will REALLY help is making an inventory of EVERYTHING that’s in the freezer and keeping it on the side of our fridge, and marking things out as we eat them.  I plan to do that this weekend.  🙂

Jump on the Food Prep Bandwagon.  You won’t regret it!

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  1 Corinthians 10:31

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