Hey friends! I want to give a quick shout out to our lovely ladies who ran the Tanner B 5k this past weekend. What a great cause for the Community. Congrats on some great PR’s! And to our first time runners, it makes us so damn happy to see you achieve these goals. These accomplishments are steps to living a better, healthier lifestyle. And that’s just awesome. So kudos to you all.
Today we have a super awesome guest post from my super awesome bestest Tina. She has a real blog, and her site is loaded with amazing ideas and recipes. Super easy recipes. She’s here to share a few of those things with you! I especially love tip #3.
My name is Tina. I’m an occasional KFIT-er and write a food/fitness/lifestyle blog called Carrots ‘N’ Cake. I’m also a new mom, so Kerrie asked me to share some of my favorite quick and easy tips for healthy meal planning and food prep. I really enjoy these things, so I am more than happy to share my little secrets with you lovely ladies! I hope you find them helpful!
Ok, let’s talk about meal planning first. For me, meal planning is essential when it comes to eating healthy and sticking to a budget. Every week, I sit down and plan out my dinners for the week. Breakfast is usually one of three things (eggs with roasted sweet potatoes, an egg sandwich, or an English muffin with almond butter and banana) and lunch is usually leftovers from dinner, so I don’t necessarily “plan” these meals, but I keep them in mind when making my grocery shopping list. That said, here are my go-to methods for meal planning!
Cook the “hardest” meals first
When I’m preparing my meal plan for the week, I almost always schedule the recipes that require the most time and effort at the beginning of the week. I know as the week progresses, I’m less motivated to cook a meal that requires a lot of work, so I front-load the week and finish with the easy stuff (i.e. tuna melts, stir fry) or leftovers. Typically, these meals produce leftovers, so I incorporate them into the following night’s meal. For example, I’ll roast a whole chicken at the beginning of the week and then incorporate it into the next night’s dinner and lunch.
Cook (easy) meals with leftovers later in the week
I also like to cook meals that produce a lot of leftovers later in the week, such as crock pot meals or casseroles. (I also LOVE these one-pan enchiladas!) By Thursday or Friday night, I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so we often eat leftovers (or super easy meals) on these nights. Some favorites: 5-Minute, Protein-Packed Vegetarian Stir Fry, Cheesy Garlic & Herb Brussels Sprouts with Sausage, and Potato & Chorizo Dobladas.
Plan some “back-up” meals
Another thing I do when it comes to meal planning is make sure that we always have a couple of “back-up” meals on deck if we’re not in the mood for cooking or eating something specific we planned for dinner. These meals are ones that we always enjoy eating. They’re also quick, easy, and include mostly non-perishable foods, so they’re always ready to go when we’re in need of a meal. Some of our favorites: tuna melts, shrimp (from the freezer) stir fry, breakfast for dinner (I love egg sandwiches), avocado egg salad, Annie’s Mac & Cheese with edamame and broccoli (from the freezer), and quesadillas. Basically, we keep go-to meals on-hand so we always have a decent dinner option, so we don’t end up ordering take-out.
Ok, you’ve got your meal plan for the week. Now it’s time to prep some food. I usually do this on Sunday afternoon after I go grocery shopping, but, of course, do what works best for you! Here are some tips and ideas for weekly food prep!
Take full advantage of your prep time
On Sunday afternoons, I typically spend about an hour preparing food for the upcoming week. I typically make more involved (aka “the hardest”) meals on Sundays, so while I am preparing, I cook other foods for the week, including Sweet Potato Wedges, roasted veggies, roasted spaghetti squash, hard-boiled eggs, rice, and chicken, and then store them in Tupperware containers to be reheated. Prepping food like this might seem like a lot of work, but it’s so worth it when you are starving and just not in the mood to cook. Plus, once you start prepping everything and do it a few times, it actually comes together quite easily and then you’re set up for a healthy week ahead!
Prep and cook for future meals
Similarly to the Sunday food prep that I do, I prepare and cook food throughout the week for future meals—almost like a domino effect. [Check outthis post for an example.] When I’m cooking dinner, I’m always thinking about how I can multitask to make the next day’s breakfast or dinner easier. For example, I’ll dice up and roast a potato for home fries to go with my eggs in the morning or roast some broccoli for the next night’s dinner. Pretty much any time I turn on my oven, I think about what else I can throw in there to cook for later.
Defrost meat in the refrigerator
On Sundays before the start of the week, I take the various meats and fish planned for the week’s meals out of the freezer and put them on one of the shelves in my refrigerator to let them defrost. Sometimes, they get cooked up right away on Sunday, but other times, I’ll wait until later in the week to cook them just so they taste fresher. Basically, the meat/fish is ready to go when I want to cook it, and I don’t have to wait for it to defrost.
Some ideas for Sunday food prep:
- Chopped fresh fruit <— great for when you want just a bite of something sweet
- Chopped veggies <— great for omg-I’m-starving moments, dipped into hummus, black bean dip, guacamole, etc.
- Sweet Potato Wedges
- Roasted sweet potato + onion home fries
- Blueberry Chia Jelly
- Paleo “Granola”
- Roasted broccoli
- Meat <— I usually cook up 3 pounds of chicken breasts from Whole Foods each week (FYI: It’s $0.50 off per pound if you buy 3 pounds worth!)
- Batter for 2-ingredient pancakes
- Hardboiled eggs
- Brown rice
- Iced coffee