Food Prep & Meal Planning

Welcome to a brand new week, my friends- the last week of January! I hope that your weekend was full of fun and that you got plenty of rest (which is what I look forward to the most on Saturday mornings!).

We were spoiled with warmth and sunshine all weekend and enjoyed temperatures in the 60s. To my east coast friends- I’m not trying to rub it in. It’s cold and snowy here today! I’m actually happy about the snow, because it means much better conditions for ski school on Wednesday! I got my own skis over the weekend and can’t wait to try them out on the slopes. The rentals that I’ve been using have definitely seen better days!

I spent a good amount of time doing something that I’m admittedly horrible at: meal planning and food prep! I blame it on my eight years as a teacher where I had to pack every single breakfast, lunch and snacks every single work day. I hated taking an hour each night to put together delicious meals and snacks- but the only other alternative was to eat from the school cafeteria and the vending machine in the faculty lounge. No thanks! I always took the time to pack food that I looked forward to eating because I was so miserable in that job- lunch was the only thing that I really looked forward to! Sad but true.

I’m trying to get better at planning out meals and prepping healthy snack and meal options to help me stay on track with my weight loss efforts and paying attention to macros. If I have ready-to-go healthy options around, I’m much less likely to snack on other things while I prepare a healthy snack/meal. Another thing that has made me lazy about meal planning is working from home most of the time. Since I eat most meals in my own kitchen, I feel like I don’t really have to plan ahead (which is so not true!).

I looked to the queens of food prep and meal planning for a little inspiration: Lindsay and Cassie. Lindsay has so many helpful posts about healthy meal preparation and I have found myself getting sucked in for hours reading her tips. She preps food for the week on Sundays and shares photos and details of what she made (and even has a round-up from other bloggers!). Cassie has great printables on her blog, including the menu and workout planner that I kept up with for about two weeks (before I got lazy…).

I spent a little bit of time in the kitchen on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, rather than doing one big long food prep on a single day. Here’s what I have so far:

food prep

This photo includes: chopped red cabbage (I put it in salads, roast it or just snack on it raw), cauliflower, broccoli (all in bags that I will rinse out and re-use), hard-boiled eggs, Wholly Guacamole packets (I prefer plain, whole avocados, but these are great when I’m in a hurry!), roasted squash and red peppers (to put in salads for lunch), Balsamic Maple Roasted carrots (recipe to follow), Flapjacked pancakes, meat from a Whole Foods rotisserie chicken and this hummus (that is SO darn good).

I love Flapjacked pancakes and they couldn’t be easier to make (you just add water!), but when I’m in a hurry in the morning (which is almost always) I don’t have time to break out the skillet and wait for it to heat up. I made a few batches of both the Cinnamon Apple and Banana Hazelnut. For each flavor, I combined a cup of the pancake mix with 1/2 c. liquid egg whites and 1/2 c. water and dropped 2 tablespoons of batter on a skillet for each pancake. This yielded two more pancakes from the Banana Hazelnut mix than Apple Cinnamon- I guess the batter is a little fluffier! (And if you’re counting the stack below, one of each pancake was eaten before taking this photo :))

pancakes

Each pancake has just under 40 calories, 1g of fat, 4g of carbs and 4g of protein. If I were to make a meal of out this, I’d probably eat 4 or 5 pancakes with some cottage cheese and berries (and maybe a little nut butter!). They’re also great as a snack or a little pre-workout fuel. I grabbed two on my way out the door when heading to the gym both days this weekend and just ate them frozen- they were delicious!

For the Balsamic Maple Roasted carrots:

balsamic maple carrots

These are so good and easy to make! I combined 2 cups of chopped carrots, 1 T balsamic vinegar, 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil, 1 T of maple sugar and about 1/4 tsp. sea salt. I mixed everything together in a bowl and roasted them in the oven at 350˚ for about 35 minutes, stirring twice. The carrots make your whole kitchen smell delicious! They’re great warm- but I honestly prefer them cold after being in the fridge for at least a day.

Another component of being prepared- having Greek yogurt on hand at all times! I’m sure you’re well aware that I’m a Greek yogurt junkie and Fage is my drug of choice. When I was shopping with my CO bestie a week or two ago, she pointed out that it’s actually cheaper per ounce to buy the smaller containers of yogurt than those that hold two cups! Because I try to be a tree-hugger as much as possible, I usually buy the larger containers anyway. But, I also like to have options!

yogurts

The full fat (on the bottom) tastes the best. It’s rich and decadent and I love it. I’ll eat that if I’m running lower on fat calories for the day. The 2% is almost as good as the full-fat, and I love it just by itself! That’s the variety that I eat about 90% of the time. And the fat-free… well, ever since I started eating yogurt that does have fat in it, I just can’t go back! I only use this one if I’m adding other stuff to it (like nut butter!) or looking for a very lean source of protein.

Another thing that has been really helpful to successful healthy eating habits are these little bowls that I found on clearance at Sur la Table:

measuring bowls

They have measurements portioned out inside the bowls, so that you don’t have to use a measuring cup and a bowl. There’s a line inside that says one amount, and the volume of the entire bowl is twice that amount. I use them for eating things like cottage cheese, fruit and nuts all the time!

almonds

Kelly had launched a Kickstarter campaign a while ago for a much prettier version of these types of bowls (and I hadn’t even heard of portioned bowls before seeing hers!) but it never came to fruition. It’s too bad- if I had enough money, I’d definitely back her to get those bowls on the market. They are gorgeous!

The last component of meal planning that I’m tackling is the actual meal planning. I try to write down meal ideas for each night of the week in advance, but it doesn’t always happen.

dinners

I don’t know why, but I’ve just never been good about sticking with this! Greg will go along with whatever I decide to make and is the least picky eater ever (besides me), so I never have to worry about making things that he will like. I cleaned out the freezer over the weekend and found that we had about ten different types of meat or fish in there! The goal for this week (and probably next week too) is just to eat what we already have!

Even with every tool from every expert and all of the advice in the world on meal prep and planning, I’m not 100% sure that I’ll do a great job of keeping up with it. But, I promise that I will try.

One more thing- the winner of the Kombucha Brooklyn Giveaway is…

Screen Shot 2014-01-26 at 12.45.10 PM

YAY ERIN!!! Email me at lauren@meandthemountains.com for further information!!!

Have a great Monday!

Do you have some good tips on meal prep/planning to share?

Comments

  1. Hooray!!! Good job with the prep. Fage is good. I’m hooked on Chobani too. I usually buy whichever of the two is on sale. In terms of tips, I don’t do anything too special. I try to just really focus on cooking when I have time. Sometimes this means making dinner at 8 AM for that night and the next night!

  2. shredded chicken saves me many nights. i actually need to start preparing freezer meals for when the baby comes!

  3. Lauren,
    We should talk — I always forget about that dreaded meal — dinner — Usually it is 4pm and the kids are headed outside to play and the moms are setting up for a glass of wine — I don’t want to be stuck inside making dinner — so we end up usually going out :( I then started doing pre done meals — whether it be protein (the meat, or another source of protein) frozen and pre spiced and divided or a crock pot meal — now all I have to do is pull it out of the freezer — we are eating healthier and at home more — it is more cost effective and we are mixing up our repitore more — we are a taco eating family — (this is my usual fallback meal!)

  4. You go girl!! Your meal prep looks fantastic. I hope you have a wonderful week.

  5. rockin it girlfriend! send me that food prep pic so i can feature you in a post!

  6. Hurray, you bought skis! That’s a point of no return Lauren, you know that right?

  7. You’ve got lots of goodies on hand!!
    I stick to having spinach and veggies on hand, some sort of protein, a pot of soup, bread, and turkey or tuna. I pack my lunch everyday so it’s helpful to have things on hand. Yesterday I baked almost 4 lbs of salmon so we’ve got that on hand for salads, sandwiches, etc. this week.

  8. Yay for skis, food prep AND winning! ;) I food prep a few days at a time. Usually just the big stuff like chicken and dividing up snacks. There are a few things I can’t handle being pre-cooked (fish!) so I leave that until the night of. Can’t wait to hear how ski school goes this week!

  9. I recently started sending one of my best friends my meal plan, grocery list and food prep for the week. Just by her watching what I’m doing, she saved $20 off her first week of groceries! :)

  10. nice! i’m always soo happy when i do meal prep!!

  11. Meal planning is such a pain, but it works for all the reasons you listed! I actually shared a copy of my own meal planning with macros spreadsheet on Friday – you might like it if you haven’t seen it yet. :)

    • I did read your post about that- and actually downloaded the spreadsheet! But whoa- might be a little too complicated for me! I just do macro ratios, not actual numbers! That way MyFitnessPal does all of the calculating for me. I know with planning ahead and time it wouldn’t be a huge deal- but not sure I’m ready to commit to all of that counting yet! :)

  12. Okay, now that you’ve expanded on Flapjack, I totally need some. :D

  13. every week i break out the crock pot and make either salsa chicken or pulled pork. I will make large batch of soup and/or chili.. so i have a base for lunch and dinners throughout the week. Ill usually fill in with lots of veggies and spag squash..seems to work for the hubby and I.

  14. Congrats on buying skis! You’re going to have the BEST day this week – the snow conditions will be amazing! Enjoy :)

    I have a little lime green set of those bowls that I got at a thrift store. Love them! They are all over my kitchen every day but I never thought to use them for portion control. That would be a huge help to my ever-snacking husband…thanks for the idea!

  15. Food planning and meal prep it a necessary evil.
    It takes time and takes out the mystery, but you get proper nutrition.

  16. I want those little bowls! I work right by Sur La Table and keep meaning to go grab them and haven’t!

Comments are welcome (and encouraged)!