Meal Prep 101

Meal prep has been consistently gaining popularity for years.  It is a Godsend to some, a pain in the (bleep) for others.  I think its a little bit of both.

A few Sundays a month, I spend a couple hours prepping snacks, some breakfasts, and healthy lunch and dinner meals for my husband and I.  I do not love meal prepping.  I actually dread it. 

However, I am always so glad I sucked it up and spent that couple of hours taking the time to prep these meals, especially since I used to tend to wait to eat until the point I was HANGRY and savagely looking for the easiest, most delicious, unhealthy food in the kitchen. 

After a few too many hangry savage episodes, I decided it was probably a good idea to have some pre-made healthy meals on hand so I could grab them in these moments of desperation.

So now, while my four year old enjoys this for lunch…

organic mac n cheese
Tyler’s favorite lunch

I can easily grab this ready-made goodness…

salad in a jar
Hangry savage prevention meal

My husband appreciates these meals too!  Lucky for me, he is not picky and is content with eating the same (or very similar) lunch almost every day.  Here are some of the items I prepped this week:

meal prep
(sliced veggies, pineapple, trail mix not pictured)

Easy Grab Snacks

If I want to encourage my kids to choose healthy snacks, I basically have to do all the work except actually eat it for them.  This means buying, washing, cutting up, and storing all produce items, THEN reminding them we have healthy snacks and offering these foods to them when I hear the dreaded “I’m huuuuungry”. 

Pre-cut organic celery
Pre-cut organic carrot slices
Pre-cut red, green, orange, yellow pepper slices
Pre-cut cucumber slices
Organic rasperries & blackberriesPre-cut watermelon
Pre-cut pineapple
Baked kale chips (see recipe here)
Hard boiled eggs
Homemade trail mix

Just a few breakfast items

I typically have time to make breakfast in the morning and usually only prep veggies to add to my egg scramble or if I am feeling hungry for some simple overnight oats, I like to have some of those on hand as well.

4 jars of overnight oats (see recipe here)
Prepped roasted sweet potato chunks
Pepper slices
Onion
Kale (because I like to eat kale with every. single. meal)

Lunch & Dinner Items

I typically make 3 different proteins, 2 or 3 complex carbohydrates, and an assortment of veggies.  This way I can mix and match for a bit of variety but still keep things simple for me on my prep day. 

While these are definite lunch meals, there have been times we have grabbed them for dinner as well, especially on those nights when I don’t feel like cooking.  The kids are usually not thrilled about this so they usually pick at waste the entire  meal….well, not always but often enough that I find myself telling them they can make dinner for themselves if they don’t want a prepped meal.  (It happens.)

Some of the items I like to prep for lunch/dinner include:

Salad in a jar
Steamed brown rice
Tri-colored quinoa
Baked sweet potatoes
Grilled chicken breasts
Turkey muffins/meatballs
Grass fed ground beef w/ homemade taco seasoning
Green beans
Brussels sprouts
Steamed broccoli
Steamed cauliflower
Broccoli slaw
Kale salad  (obsessed…)
Salad in a jar (usually about 4 different, but similar salads)

From here, I just mix and match the food items and create as many meals as I can until the ingredients run out. (Each meal consists appropriate portions of protein, complex carbs, veggies.)

meals assembled

Since the hubby and I are using meal builder plans I created for us, we both have different macro and calorie needs.

For each container, I measure out the appropriate portions  based on the amount of calories/macros he needs per meal and then do the same for myself.

It helps when I label the finished meals before I put them in the refrigerator or freezer but he can usually tell which ones are mine and which are his based on the items in the container (me=kale, him=anything but kale), so I have been slacking on the labeling.

I like to keep enough meals in the refrigerator to get us through the entire week and anything extra is frozen.  Everything freezes really well (except avocado) and I just remove it from the freezer and put it in the refrigerator to defrost the day before I plan to eat it.

Sometimes it can get boring eating the same foods over and over.  Seasonings will be your best friend (just don’t go overboard on salt), and low sodium salsa is always a quick fix.  

On nights when I am at school or when we have practices or other events going on in the evening, it is nice to have these prepped meals or even a few crockpot freezer meals on hand.  (I will share my favorite freezer meals in a future post).

So even though I don’t love meal prep days, I do love the convenience and freedom of having those prepped meals ready-to-go in my refrigerator and freezer. 

It helps me to make healthier meal choices so that I don’t feel guilty when I have a glass of wine and a brownie while I watch trash tv and it saves me time! 

Moderation people, moderation…

Eventually, I will take the time to post photos and detail the steps of this entire process but for now, this is just the basics. 

Do you prep meals and if so, what are your go-to prepped foods?