Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Food Prep / Meal Prep

I post pictures on my social media every couple weeks from my kitchen, whether it's a shot of our fridge or maybe process pictures while I'm doing food prep / meal prep, and I always get a ton of questions. Seeing as many of them are repetitive, I thought it'd be beneficial to put all the information in a single post I could refer folks to when they had similar inquiries.

WARNING: I am NOT a food blogger, so I'll warn you that the pictures will not be gorgeously styled or well lit... As long as the food's yummy and {somewhat} healthy, that's enough for me. With that said, hopefully you won't judge me too harshly. 

Like I mentioned, I am not a food blogger, nor am I a nutritionist or a dietician. This post is not meant to lecture you on what you should or shouldn't eat, it's simply what I do on a regular basis. Take what might work for you, leave what wouldn't. I'm just doing my best to make sure the hubby and I have good tasting and good for us food in the house to eat. 
The majority of what I do I would actually consider 'food prep', not necessarily 'meal prep'. I'll mention some of the meals I do put together later in the post, but the majority of what I do is getting our fruits, veggies and grains ready for eating or cooking (that way there is one less barrier to eating healthy if it's already prepped and ready to go). 

What our fridge looks like on a standard day. Like I said, nothing
fancy here... lots of tupperware with fresh fruits and veggies, some
prepped meals and other "essentials". 

As soon as I get home from the grocery store I get into my prepping mode (after I put away anything I won't be using). I pull out all the tupperware I think I'll need, grab a cutting board and knife, throw the fruit in the sink and get ready to go.
Normally I will buy at least two containers of strawberries and two containers of blueberries (one of the many perks of living in sunny SoCal). After I rinse them, I dump the blueberries into an extra large tupperware and then cut the strawberries in quarters and add them in the same container. If the fruit isn't super ripe I may add a little extra sugar to sweeten them. We use this fruit mixture throughout the week for a snack, added to cereal/ granola or thrown into smoothies. It could last anywhere from two to five days depending on the week and what else we have on hand. 

Nature's candy!

I also love red grapes so will grab a bunch whenever they are looking good. (Don't tell, but I have been known to munch on a few dirty grapes while finishing up my shopping or in the car on the way home.) Depending on the tupperware I have available and the fridge space, sometimes I will pull the grapes off the vine and put them in a tupperware and other times I will just put them in a large bowl on the top shelf (easy to grab a few whenever you open the door). 

On occasion I may eat a whole bag of grapes in the first day or two.

Depending on what's in season I may also grab a container or two of blackberries, raspberries or something else. Prepping them simply consists of rinsing them off and throwing them in a tupperware (and trying not to eat them all). 

Srum-didly-umptious! In the perfect world I would have fruit trees and berry bushes
(or however they all grow) covering my sunshine filled yard! 

Now veggies are normally what takes me the longest to prep. The hubby likes to eat stir-fry a few times a week and I always love big salads, so having prepped vegetables are a must in our fridge. We usually have broccoli, cauliflower, carrots (I usually buy the ones pre-cut into chips, but will cut my own if they are out of stock), red onions and bell peppers all chopped and in their own tupperware. If I am making a stir-fry container for the hubby, I will throw some of those veggies, along with fresh chopped jalapeño and Anaheim chilies in the mix. We also always have a container or two of spinach or some other greens (but I normally buy the pre-washed so don't have to do any prep work for it).

If there is a veggie on sale, I will normally grab it and throw it in the mix as well.

With the hubby's stir-fry, I normally make a couple servings of quinoa (and put them in their own individual tupperware). I have been buying the boil-in-bag quinoa because it is easy, but have been wanting to look at other options to cut down on the packaging waste. (Sometimes I make an extra serving or two and use it for an easy sweet 'n' sour "chicken".)

Each bag has two servings, so I split them into individual containers.

The meal prep that I do is normally the hubby's lunches. He likes spaghetti and "meatballs" so I make a batch for the week - which consists of a box of whole wheat spaghetti noodles (split into four containers), two packages of "meatballs" (each lunch gets 6 "meatballs") and covered in pasta sauce. The hubby can grab a tupperware on the way out the door to take with him to work, throw it in the microwave and have a "home cooked meal" in two to three minutes.

We use the Gardein Classic Meatless Meatballs - hubby loves them.

Similarly, I make normally make myself some pasta for the week, but it's a little different. I normally use a box of whole wheat penne (split into six containers), two packages of "chicken" strips (each meal getting 12-16 strips) and sautéed mushrooms (I normally buy a pound or two and then just sauté them with a little garlic and split it into the individual containers). I don't use sauce, but top it with some Everything But The Bagel seasoning and Nutritional Yeast.

I use the Morningstar Chick'n Strips. It may sound boring but I think it's DELISH!

The hubby's also been making his own pizza dough and normally preps a few crusts (that way the dough has time to rise) - but that's all him. All I know is the recipe calls for yeast, flour, salt, olive oil and water (much better than the preservative-filled pre-made crusts, and he enjoys making it, so I try to ignore the fact that he eats pizza multiple times a week ;)).

Other than that I will sometimes prep some taco "meat" so that it's easy to heat up for tacos, nachos, etc, throw in batch of chili in the crock pot and divid it into individual portions or make a 9x13 pan of baked pasta (either a Mexican bake or your standard baked spaghetti). I normally don't do those every week (just depends on what we have in the cupboard, when I am able to use the car {because we are currently sharing a single vehicle since we sold the AdventureMobile and haven't bought a replacement yet} and get groceries, etc), but they're some standards I can prep when push comes to shove.

Our pasta meals for the week are prepped and ready to reheat and eat!

Like I elude to at the beginning, I am no master chef or even decent cook... but since folks often ask about I do for food prep / meal prep, I thought I'd share my 'secrets' with the world. But in all honesty, the only secret is figuring out what works best for you and making it happen. If you and your family want to eat more veggies, buy some and prep them so they're ready to eat or cook up whenever the mood strikes. If you want to get better about portion control when it comes to nuts, grab some small tupperware and divvy up a serving size per container so you don't eat six servings without realizing it {speaking from experience}. If you want the family to munch on healthier snacks, grab a bag of clementine oranges, berries, etc and have them readily accessible. If you want to drink more water, buy yourself a cute, reusable bottle and make sure to bring it with you wherever you go. And remember, these changes don't have to be all or nothing. Do what you can, when you can - if that means taking a couple hours once a week to clean and chop fresh food, then do it.


Do you food or meal prep?


Unknown said...

Love your "do what works for you" mentality. I take a similar approach to meal prep. Wash and chop fruits and veggies, make a few breakfasts and lunches, and have a plan for dinners so at least you know what you're supposed to be making when it's almost supper time and you're hungry.

Bree at Clarity Defined said...

Love that last paragraph - meal prep (and I suppose most things) is absolutely a "figure out what works for you" and "do what you can, when you can" process.

Lately, for variety, I've been doing one recipe on Sundays and one on Tuesdays that can serve as a meal a day for the week (usually lunch, but sometimes dinner). If it's a soup or something easily freezable, I pop a couple into the freezer for variety for the following week.

Then I prep some of the veggies/protein that will supplement for the other meals. Being just me, I'm fully onboard the leftovers/eat the same thing every day train (it's so much easier and better for my budget - variety *during* the week leads to higher expense and greater chance of food going bad before I get to it, so variety with a new recipe week to week helps).