Food Prep – It’s Not Just For Parties
My husband is a foodie. What that means is, he lives for the whole food experience. He loves thinking about, planning for, buying for, finding great deals for, making food for, and eating food for parties and everyday occasions, like dinner. Some days, it is so strong in him, that before we even taste a bit of our dinner before us, he will lean over to me and say, “do you know what we are having tomorrow?” With a huge grin and a twinkle in his eyes. Me, the non foodie, thinks, “I just want to eat this dinner, I don’t really care about tomorrow’s at all.” He just doesn’t get me, lol.
It takes a lot of planning and preparation to get ready for an event where food is a major part of that event. You want everything to be just right. Looking delightful to the eye along with causing your palate to salivate as you take in all that has been made. The food should help the event to go well, given at just the right time, served in the right amounts in an order that appeals to the tastes. It is just a lot of work. Why do people do this? For the love of the connection made through the food, of course.
In the same way, food prep on your journey to a healthy and fit life is just as important. You have set your mind to achieve a transformation of your body and mind. You want to do everything in your power to make this journey as easy as possible. One of the most important things that you can do, is prep your food for the week, ahead of time. Whether you are doing this for yourself, or for your family, planning is key to minimize waste, making the food satisfying, and meeting your goals of a leaner and healthier you.
It doesn’t matter how many meals a day you are eating, prepping your food on the weekends will help you throughout the week to keep on track. I happen to eat five or six meals per day depending upon whether I’m weight training or not. Most of the food that I purchase is whole foods vs prepackaged foods. I’ve worked out a system that works for me that I will share here. As you work on this piece of your health and fitness journey, your prep make look a little different and that is good, because we are different people with different tastes. My hope is to give you an idea of what food prep can look like and have you take it from there.
My husband does the shopping and he has become familiar with the types of foods that I like to eat. He also is always looking for deals on things so when the shopping is done, I have to use what he has purchased to my greatest advantage. I eat beans of some type almost every day. They are considered a carb for my purposes even though they also have some protein in them as well. Every two weeks I pull out the crock pot and place 2 to 4 cups of red beans in. I’ll add some chicken broth, some dried peppers for a little pizazz, and perhaps some other spices as well and then let them cook over night until they are soft. I do like when they get a bit softer because then some of the beans will break down and create a wonderful sauce from the chicken broth. Once cooked, I pull them out and put them into containers. Some small containers for immediate meals and some in larger containers for next week.
Every week I eat Jenny O turkey burgers. My husband shops at a few different stores and can almost always find them on sale somewhere. They come in a package of twelve with two in each individual wrap. I pull out three wraps, which is six individual burgers, and fry them up in a pan with a little cooking spray so that they do not stick. It takes about 20 minutes and then I set them aside to cool. Once they are cooled, I toss them into a sandwich baggie and into the fridge. I typically eat them with my breakfast for the extra protein instead of egg whites. Sometimes, if the family is having burgers for dinner, I will have one of these as well. It makes it very easy to grab some extra protein at any point in the day. They travel well in a little lunch cooler. I’ve even eaten them cold and their not to bad.
I also do the same thing with wild game. Since we are a hunting family and almost always have some wild game burger in the freezer. I will take out a package and make them up into burgers and fry them up in the same fashion. Once cooked and cooled, again I will place them into a baggie and into the fridge. They are there for any meal where protein is needed. They go great with the beans above for lunch.
Chicken Breast Fried in Pam
I also will cook up chicken breast in one of two ways depending upon how I’m feeling and whether I need a little change. One way is to cut them into strips and season them with cajun seasoning on one side and salt and pepper on the other. Then I fry them up in a pan with cooking spray. Cutting them into strips helps them to cook quickly without becoming dried out. They will be very moist and even drip a bit on the plate that I put them on to cool. Once cooled, I put them in containers for easy storage in the fridge. These are great reheated or cold in a salad. They are also very portable in a lunch box as well. If I’m out and about I also will add 1/2 cup of my red beans into my container holding the chicken. I will bring along a cut up bell pepper and put this chicken and bean mixture over the pepper and microwave for 2 minutes. This makes a delicious lunch that is very much like a stew.
I also eat a lot of veggies. Some veggies can be prepped in advance and others are best to cut up on the morning of the day that I will be eating them. These are the veggies that I will cut up in the morning to help retain their crispness: Cucumbers, bell peppers, or any type of squash like zucchini and yellow squash, broccoli, cauliflower, and onions.
I eat one or two cukes every day depending upon my hunger and circumstances. I almost always eat a bell pepper in my lunch. I mix up the squashes, onions, and cauliflower depending upon what my husband bought and how much time I have. I steam the broccoli and cauliflower and actually like to eat it cold after it has been steamed, so I always make more than I need for any given meal and then package up in containers the rest.
I also like to make zucchini and or yellow squash for dinner along with onion in a small sauce pan. I cut them up, throw in some chicken broth and seasonings and let simmer on low for about 20 to 30 minutes. This makes the most amazingly delicious side dish for my dinner meals. I also like to just cut into rounds the zucchini and fry it in some cooking spray until it is slightly darkened and soft. Again, very tasty.
Celery and carrots are one of my mainstays for grab and go that travels well. I eat two whole celery hearts and a bag of carrots myself each week. Once my husband has brought them home, I wash them up, peal the carrots, and cut them into sizes that fit well into baggies. I usually make up about 8 baggies each weekend and then have them to nibble any time of the day in between my other main meals.
These are all my common go to foods that I do almost all of the time. Doing the food prep on the weekends and for some things in the mornings, helps me to stay on track with my desire to have a healthy and fit life. I can tell you from experience, on the weeks where I do not do my food prep, I have a hard time keeping to my goals on any given day. Now that I have been doing this for a while, it is just my normal routine.
I do have a few prepackage items that I use as well.
I eat non fat plain greek yogurt almost every day. Typically after any workout. I also add to it one serving of whey protein powder. I’m doing this because I am actively trying to put on muscle right now. I have some personal goals that I’m moving towards that require some additional protein in my diet. This is an easy way to do so without adding more food prep time and the cost is not to bad. I also add a few drops of stevia for a little sweetness and I have a great after workout meal. It is actually one of my favorite meals and I don’t seem to ever get tired of it. Sometimes I will even add some blueberries for a quick carb after a weightlifting session.
One other pre packaged item that I buy and keep around but don’t eat unless I’m going to be out are protein bars. My favorite choice is a Qwest bar because they are the best protein bar on the market. They come in a variety of flavors and many of them are made with stevia. They have only a few actual carbs in them, typically about 4 grams. The only downside to these bars is there cost. They are about 2X anything else on the market. That limits how often I buy them. They are sold only in GNC stores. If you watch though, they go on sale quite often, which makes them a little more affordable.
My next choice for a protein bar is a Pure Protein. I get this bar at Costco. It is OK but has about 16 grams of carbs as well. What I like besides the convenience is the price. I can get these bars from Costco for about 90 cents per bar. Not a bad deal at all. So, I have some on my shelf right now for those mobile moments of my life.
My personal food journey does vary from week to week as I learn, grow, and experiment. I do have other things that I have not talked about in this article. I wanted to touch on the big hitters of food prep for you, and that I have done. I hope that you are enjoying your journey and are learning new things every day.
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Jen Thorne is an accomplished wife, mother of five, business women, and church leader. She has overcome many places of brokenness in her own life with God’s help. She loves to help others by creating peace in their chaos. You can read more from Jen at http://www.jenthorne.com.