For me one of the biggest challenges I had when I first started eliminating processed foods from my diets was figuring out how to properly use food prep to my advantage. It takes practice, but over time I have been able to figure out how to cook some things ahead of time to make my life easier.
Here is a brief description of how I prepped throughout the week and a little bit about what I ate. I hope this helps you to think through how you can use prep to help you achieve your real food goals and eliminate processed foods from your diet.
Last Sunday I grilled up some of our Tequila Lime Chicken. Because I make this recipe with chicken tenders, they are perfect for making a quick and healthy lunch wrap. I love making wraps for lunch because they are easy to pack, usually hold up well in the fridge overnight (I make all of my lunches the night before so I don’t run out of time in the morning), and are easy to eat on the go.
I also spent some time making a batch of our Homemade Refried Beans. I love these beans and probably make that once a week. They are the perfect thing to add to a breakfast wrap with a hard boiled egg and sliced avocado, they are also a great accompaniment to the Tequila Lime Chicken in a lunch wrap.
The last thing I made on Sunday to prepare for the week was a double batch of our Almond Butter Protein Balls. They make a great snack or as something to throw in a packed breakfast or lunch. In my house we are addicted to them. They are quick to make (maybe 10 minutes) and keep you full. I try to make sure I always have them on hand. During the week I typically pack 2-4 in my boyfriend’s lunch. They are sweet enough to take the edge off a sugar craving and keep you from reaching for the candy bar when afternoon snack cravings hit.
The one item I prepped on Monday night was some Hard Boiled Eggs. I made four of them, which would be enough for our next two breakfasts. Lately I have been addicted to having a hard boiled egg and a couple slices of avocado. Not only it is incredibly delicious and satisfying, but it is also enough to keep me full and energized until lunch.
Right before I went to bed I also made us a couple of wraps for lunch. I used whole wheat tortillas for the bread, I spread a base of the refried beans and added a couple of pieces of the tequila lime chicken> I topped it off with a couple pieces of romaine lettuce and some spicy mustard. I took me all of five minutes and meant that I had healthy homemade lunches for tomorrow!
Tuesday night I had some ripe bananas and strawberries in the fridge so I decided to make a batch of Strawberry Banana Muffins. I like to eat one for breakfast with a piece of fruit. I also like to throw one in a packed lunch.
After the muffins were out of the oven and cooled I quickly put together our lunches for the next day. Taking 10 minutes before I go to be to throw together a lunch makes it so easy and takes away all the excuses!
Okay, so I ate a few too many of the strawberry banana muffins throughout the day to have enough for our breakfasts and lunches on Thursday….so on Wednesday night I decided to mix up some Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal to have for tomorrows breakfast. Thankfully, there were still two of the muffins left (it took all my restraint not to eat them…) so I was able to throw them in our lunches.
The weather on Thursday was beautiful so we decided to grill out for dinner. After much vigorous debate on what we should cook we finally settle on pork tenderloin. One tip I have learned in meal prep, is that sometime the best way to prep for the next day is to just make a little extra dinner the night before. In this case instead of only grilling one port tenderloin, we decided to grill two. In addition to the pork tenderloins we also threw some corn and sweet potatoes on the grill. The meal was so simple and delicious. I probably grill some version of this at least once a week.
When assembling the lunches I sliced the port tenderloin thick. I put them in a whole wheat wrap with some romaine lettuce, organic cheddar cheese and a little Dijon mustard. I took five minutes to make and was delicious!
Friday is always an easy day, since if I did my prep right all I should have to worry about is what to eat for dinner.
Since the next day is the weekend and I will have plenty of time to make breakfast and lunch there really was not a whole lot of prep I needed to do. We were however going to a picnic with some friends the next day and I decided to make some of our Olive Hummus to bring. Since I make this recipe from dried chickpeas instead of canned, before I went to bed I put my beans in a bowl, covered them with water, and placed them in the fridge to soak overnight.
Figuring out a food prep schedule that works for you can take some time. No one schedule works for everyone. Food prep needs to be tailored to you and your family and should include the foods and recipes you love. When thinking through how prep can help save you time and reduce stress try to think about what will be easy for you to assemble and eat when you are in a hurry. If you have to choose what to focus on I would suggest breakfast and snacks. Personally, I have found that those are the times we are often most rushed and it is easiest to reach for unhealthy options. I hope you picked up some tips and ides for how to use a little prep time to achieve you food goals.