Sunday, February 19, 2012

Food Prep Sunday!

I've had a lot of people ask me about my food prep process.  In this house prepping our food is a weekly event, usually done on Sunday (shopping on Fri/Sat).  I am a busy Mom of 2, working 40 hours a week and most nights I just simply don't have the time to come home and cook a meal from scratch. Our lunches are the same way.  If we don't prep, we don't eat well.  It's as simple as that!

I've had great success with planning and prepping our meals over the weekends.  I've also been fortunate enough to have a super-smart coach and trainer that helps keep me in line.  She's been planning our menus for the last 1.5 months, and with my own tweaks, I'm droppin' fat like it's HOT! :)

I'm always open to new recipe ideas which is why I love sharing with others so much. Maybe you don't know what you're doing?  I'm here to tell you that with a little forethought and some planned time that this process takes the guesswork out of what your meals will look like for the week!

On this weeks menu we have Mexican Lasagna, Meat and Potatoes, Power Chicken, Apple Flax Muffins and Aunt Tilda's Brown Bread.

HERE WE GO! (Moms, this is the point where you tell your husband that he's in charge of the kids for a couple of hours. ;)

Instead of going recipe by recipe I like to start with my fruits and veggies, then move on to my meats and then to the baked goods.  This helps keep a sanitary kitchen as well as an organized brain :)

My first task is to grab the veggies and fruits that need to be chopped for the week. Some are for recipes we are making and others are for eating throughout the week. This week I microwaved 2 sweet potatoes, let them cool and then cut them up for our 9 month old to eat.  I chopped celery, cucumbers, strawberries, pineapple, red peppers, red onion, broccoli and carrots. I rinsed a pile of blueberries and stashed them in their glass home.
Tip: Keep your trashcan close by for those unwanted parts while you're choppin' away!

Veggies chopped and ready for Power Chicken
Next, I move on to the meats.  I had a turkey breast that I wanted to cook in the slow cooker to be used for sandwiches throughout the week. This is a great alternative to deli meats which in many cases are loaded with sodium, nitrates and nitrites.  So, in went the turkey breast along with some Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning mix and a little bit of chicken broth.

Then it was Meat and Potatoes time! I have 2 slow cookers so I had both of them going today. Use your slow cooker! It's a beautiful kitchen tool!

I combined about 1.5 pounds of stew meat, several chopped carrots, red onion wedges and red potatoes along with some steak seasoning and beef stock.  8 hours on low, and BOOM! 5 servings of delicious meat, carrots and potatoes!  This is a healthy option for either lunch or dinner.

BONUS!  I needed red onion for Power Chicken as well.  So, half of the onion was in wedges with the meat and potatoes, and the other half was chopped for Power Chicken (see above) Same thing happened with the red pepper. I chopped a little bit for Power Chicken and cut the rest into strips for Hummus dipping. 

Measuring out my potatoes.  2 small red potatoes is about 175-190 grams. For 5 servings, I added 10 potatoes.

I knew I had 4 lbs of chicken to chop between 2 of my planned recipes (Mexican Lasagna and Power Chicken).  I like to use the kitchen scissors for a lot of this chicken "chopping." It just works best for me, but use a sharp knife if that works best for you.

After pan-searing the chicken I needed for the Mexican Lasagana I assembled that recipe and placed it in the oven.  I cleaned the skillet and moved onto the Power Chicken.  My chicken and veggies were already chopped so it was easy to get going.

Keep in mind that I do a lot of random tasks while the chicken or veggies are searing. I'm making the most of my time spent here.  I bagged portion sizes of walnuts, pumpkin seeds and Blue Almond Nut Thins for snacks while I was "waiting." Use a kitchen scale. Portion sizing is very important.

Then it was onto the baking.  I probably could have just done the Apple Flax Muffins and left the Brown Bread off the list. However my kids love Brown Bread, it's a tried-and-true family recipe so I went for it.

Pretty isn't it??? :)

There you have it.

Strawberries, blueberries, sweet potatoes, red pepper strips, cucumbers, celery.
Pineapple, turkey breast for sandwiches, Power Chicken; bagged Nut Thins, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
Aunt Tilda's Brown Bread, Apple Flax Muffins, 5x Meat and Potatoes, 6x Mexican Lasagna.  (we already ate 4 servings between the 4 of us today!)

I also have a few items that I didn't prep this week:
We have apples, carrot sticks, sweet peas, spinach/half&half salad mix, pears, bananas, grapefruit, oranges and avocados that I don't prep.  I just grab these and cut, slice or eat when needed.  We also eat a lot of eggs/whites in the morning.  Curtis is great about cooking these up before work!

I'm also a huge fan of buying the frozen steam-in-the-microwave vegetables, as well as Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Brown Ready Rice (90 seconds in the micro!!) Making life simple is the name of my game!

So, how long did it take? I'd say combined time was about 2.5 hours, but if you add in my pre-prep organization time we could be pushing 3 hours. That's from start to clean dishes: 3 HOURS.

3 hours to ensure that your family is eating well all week long.  Priceless!

Other random tips:

If you log your nutrition into a site like My Fitness Pal or Lose It! spend some time on Sunday night and enter the info for the recipes you've found. They'll be in the database forever.

Be flexible! I've prepped a lot of meals here but I will swip-swap what I'll be eating each day.  Just because I prepped a few different things doesn't mean I'll be eating the same exact thing each day. Mix it up!

Buy what's on sale! Many of the coupon deals you see are for highly processed foods. Skip the coupons and instead grab the grocery flyers you see in the newspaper.  Check out what's on sale that week in the produce department.  Build your meals around what is on sale. We have been doing red peppers the last few weeks because they've been on sale.  The winter is tough in Michigan.  I love to eat organic, locally grown if I can, but when that's not possible, just focus on eating WELL.  Use the sales to keep the cost down. 

If you have questions about my meal prep or are interested in recipes, please comment here and I'll be sure to answer!


Michelle said...

Can we please have your brown bread recipe? Peeeezzz?

staceyg said...

Awesome Emily!!! I am "trying" to do this each week...getting better, but no where near what you do! You continue to inspire and hopefully I can get there soon!!!

Christina said...

thanks for sharing!

Jen Klassen said...

This is great Emily! Would love your recipes too :)
We have also been loving the pepper sales ~ Harper loves peppers and the "rainbow" tri-color couscous so we are giving this recipe a try this week!