Today, I want to pull back the curtain and show you exactly what I do to set myself up for a week of successful eating.
We all have different goals, so I’ll just share mine:
a) enjoy my food
b) be healthy
c) support my workout program and improve my physique
d) have easy to make or already made dinners so I’m not hours in the kitchen every night
My approach to food prep is one that finds a happy balance between variety, delicious flavors, and metabolism-boosting meal combinations. I like having some guidelines to follow AND some room to deviate from my plan. Now granted, from a practical and financial standpoint I have to be smart about how I choose the foods I want to cook for the week, because too much variety means I’ll have to get a ton of different ingredients. So I strategize by choosing a few different recipes that have complimentary ingredients, using some fresh and some frozen to save money (and to make sure things don’t go bad), and buying things I plan to use over and over in bulk.
Here are 4 steps I take to ensure my food prep is quick and effective.
1-Choose your recipes for the week:
The way I choose my recipes is pretty simple. I want all of my daily meals to include a balanced amount of protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and occasionally complex and simple carbs. I include some protein with every meal. I am on the go right when I wake so I don’t like to think of what I am going to have for breakfast, it is the same thing every morning for that week. Then the following week I will switch it up but still have the same thing every morning that week. For example I made a batch(12) of egg white muffins (recipe below) on Sunday and I had all my breakfasts set until the following Saturday.
Organize what you plan to have for dinner, what leftovers you can have for lunch the next day, what you can make in bulk etc… I always have at least 8-12 hard boiled eggs in the fridge for a quick go to protein and healthy fat snack. My veggies are pre-cut for grab and go snacks or easy fresh stir-frys. And there are always healthy protein energy balls in the freezer for pre or post workout energy boost.
2-Make your grocery list:
So this part is pretty easy. Just pick the recipes you’re going to make, decide if you’re going to double them or make the amount it calls for and start writing your grocery list based on the foods you’ll need. Additionally, you’ll want to think about the meals and foods you won’t prep in advance, and can have on the fly. For example, add-ins (like berries, or chia seeds) to your smoothies, plain greek yogurt, or maybe you want some canned tuna on hand that you can mash together with avocado for a quick and delicious snack or meal. I always make sure I have some frozen fish/meat and frozen vegetables in the freezer too. Having things on hand that won’t go bad is super important. I also make sure I have good quality protein powder always on hand for a quick and easy on the go snack.
Other things I’ll be eating that I’ll want to pick up or make sure I have on hand:
- Greens for smoothies and salad
- Fresh and frozen fruit (depending on the price, season, etc)
- Pantry items (like sundried tomatoes, cinnamon, hemp seeds, chia seeds,nuts, sunflower seeds, etc)
- Ezekiel sprouted grain English Muffins (these are a wonderful complex carb to include with zero additives or sugar, made from sprouted grains)
- nut butters
- almond or cashew milk (unsweetened)
- Plain greek yogurt
****this is important, do NOT do your groceries if you are hungry, so many impulse buys of food what will not fuel your goals happen when we are hungry*******
3- Containers :
I have lots of glass containers for my food. If I am going to store stuff I try to stay away from plastic. The clear glass is a great way to see every option when you open the fridge. I also have lots of different sizes so that if I know I am going to be bringing food with me a lot that week then I separate my food in easy to grab and go meals. If you are someone who tends to over eat then having meals measured out ahead of time in their own container will help control that tendency.
Sometimes it takes a couple hours to put everything together. In fact, if you are doing it right, it always takes a couple of hours, but it will save you many more hours over the week to come! While doing food prep can seem time consuming initally, I find it extremely efficient and it saves me a ton of time and thinking during the week (and money – because you’re not shelling out $ on lunches out, snacks, take-out food, etc). Not to mention it absolutely ensures I’m going to be making the best choices for my body and not relying on pre-made foods that have too much sugar, salt, additives or ingredients that might not be optimal for my health. It is not always seamless, and I don’t do it every single week, or I may be short on time and only do food for 3 days knowing that I will rely on food I prepped and stored in freezer for the rest of the week, but I do my best to do food prep 2-3 times a month. I also always ensure that I make enough of at least one or two items that can be frozen for another week just incase.
Here’s how it all goes down:
Breakfast : egg white muffing X 12
- smoked salmon on cucumber with cream cheese (on the go),
- asparagus/broccoli/ avocado soup, and grilled mediteranean chicken (at home lunch),
- grilled chicken lettuce wrap (on the go)
- spiraled zucchini and meatballs,
- pork tenderloin with sweet potato mash and garlic green beans,
- Salad and left over pork,
- Soup and meatballs,
- grilled salmon with garlic green beans and salad
- stuffed sweet potato.
Snacks: hard boiled eggs, fruits & veggies, nuts and seeds, Plain Greek yogurt with protein powder.
1- boil my eggs, (on the go snack) while boiling I wash and chop up all the fruits and veggies that I will need for all the recipes, salads and on the go snacks and spiralize my zucchini. This way I have it all done and out of the way before the meat comes out. Eggs are DONE!
2-place the veggies I am going to eat raw as snack or in salads in a container and into the fridge. DONE!
3-place the spiraled zucchini off to the side on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. This will pull some of the water out before storing. I make enough to serve my family for one meal of zucchini noodles and to have some left to put on top of salads at lunch. DONE!
4-cut chicken breasts into cubes and marinate in fridge (see recipe).
5-Heat up oven, and get soup pot ready for soup – saute onions in olive oil then add asparagus, broccoli and water, bring to boil. At same time steam green beans.
6-make egg muffin mixture see recipe and place in oven,
7-Once green beans are steamed transfer to pan with melted butter and garlic and toss. Put aside to cool. Again I make enough for 2 dinners as a side for 4 people DONE!
8-once muffins are done remove from oven and place sweet potatoes in to bake.
9- once asparagus is bright green and broccoli is tender remove from heat and let cool. Then blend with hand held blender while adding a splash of lemon and 1 avocado salt and pepper. Set aside to cool and then refrigerate DONE!
10-Remove sweet potatoes and mash half of them and leave enough to serve 1 to each family member intact.
11-Place chicken cubs on skewers and bake in oven.
12-make a huge batch of meatballs (lean ground beef, egg whites, onions, spices) while chicken cooks then place in oven once chicken is done.
13- When meatballs are done I freeze some, store some in fridge for the week and I keep some aside to make the stuffed sweet potato later that week.
** Pork tenderloin and the salmon filet I don’t cook ahead of time but I always get enough to have left overs for dinner or lunch.
I truly hope you found this helpful. Leave a comment below with your time saving hacks for busy moms or how you implemented some of these techniques and how it shaved off time during your busy week!
- 2 1/2 cups egg whites
- 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup diced mushrooms
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese, chives, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Divide the mixture evenly among the 12 muffin pan cups.
Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the egg whites are fully cooked. Remove the muffins from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes in the pan before using a knife to loosen the muffins from the cups.
Mediterranean Chicken skewers:
at least 6-8 chicken breasts
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- 6 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp thyme
- 4 tsp oregano
- 4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Place chicken cubes in ziplock and pour in marinade. Place in fridge for 30 min. Remove and place on skewers and bake in oven at 350 until juices run clear.
Stuffed Sweet Potato
Using your previously baked sweet potatoes, cut a slit in top and remove the flesh. In a bowl mash up a few of the meatballs you prepared and mix with sweet potato, salsa, chives, and spices (I like tex mex). Stuff sweet potato skins and sprinkle with cheddar cheese, bake in oven until warm. Serve with side salad.