Those of you who know me already know that I get excited about stuff that’s…well….not usually exciting. One thing I get super pumped about is food prep. I like planning. I like spending a whole morning cooking and organizing my meals for the week. I like knowing that this few hours will save me a ton of time throughout the next several days. Not only is the food prepped and ready to go, but I also don’t have to spend time THINKING about it.
You know what I’m talking about…. You are either at work at 4pm wondering what’s for dinner and remembering the fridge is bare. Or, you open the fridge and it’s full…..but everything requires actual cooking and it’s already 7:30pm. The kids (and you) need fed NOW.
Both of those scenarios often have the same outcome – heading out to get something to eat. Ugh. Going out to eat is fine, but throwing your hands up and heading to the drive-thru because you’ve not planned well is the last thing you want. When we make rushed, frustrated decisions like this, rarely are they decisions that benefit us long-term.
So, I’m going to take you through my food prep from yesterday – where I cooked and/or prepped the following:
- One whole chicken
- A pot of paleo chili
- A pot of beef-cabbage soup
- An entree of chicken, baked sweet potatoes, and asparagus
- Snacks consisting of fresh cut veggies, hummus, and salmon
- Boiled eggs
One thing I always thought was lacking when I read about doing all this was the “little” things that truly made the tasks easier. Once prepped enough, I came up with some of these on my own so I want to mention those to you along the way.
Soups Need Time
The first thing on my agenda was to get my soups going. The paleo chili wasn’t for me, but it needs to simmer most of the day before being ready for my family. I’m not lying when I say this is the best chili I’ve ever had. It’s “paleo” so there are no beans. The other soup was on my assigned meal plan for the week from my trainer, a beef-cabbage soup. I started my morning by browning all the ground meat for these two soups, as well as cooking the vegetables that will be put in the chili.
Two crockpots later – they are both well on their way!
TIP: For the chili, I end up getting two pans dirty: the skillet that cooks the meat/veggies and the crock pot. That’s it. My whole tomatoes, sautéed veggies, and spices go into the crockpot where I then use an immersion blender to liquify it all at once. No transferring liquids between pots = no splatter.
I Ain’t No Chicken
I then set out to cook my whole chicken. Normally, I just do chicken breasts but the dark meat has some nutritional benefits, so I did the whole chicken this time. One of my favorite kitchen gadgets is my Instant Pot. We use it 3-4 times a week, and it’s always used on prep day. I have the 6-quart pot and it’s plenty big for what we use it for. I had to search for a recipe to do a whole chicken because if it comes out too dry – I won’t eat it. So, I did some searching and settled on this one. It came out PERFECTLY!! I had more than what I needed to do my own meals for the week, so the extra will be used for whatever is cooked for the kids on night.
TIP: One of the things that the recipe calls for is to let the chicken cook in a bit of oil at high temps before starting the pressure. Obviously you need to do both sides. In the past, I’ve had one helluva time getting the chicken back out of the Instant Pot to turn it over. It’s hot! However, a few months ago, I bought these nifty little things because our oven mitts kept getting super gross and washing them never seemed to get them clean. (Okay, full disclosure – I’ve gone the silicone direction for a ton of things in the kitchen lately!) With these babies, I was able to simply reach down and removed the chicken, flip it over, and gently set it back inside the IP. I then just washed off the gloves!
Veggies & Hummus & Salmon
My veggies were then cut up while all that was busy cooking. This week, I chose zucchini (yes, I eat it raw), red bell peppers, sugar snap peas, green beans, and asparagus.
Nothing fancy here – I just cut them up and measured out 2 cups and put them in containers with a small soufflé cup of hummus. One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve been eating hummus again (besides the fact that I love it) is that many brands are super thick. Hummus is expensive!
TIP: Use a good quality oil to dilute your hummus if you find it’s too thick. I like mine with a lighter consistency and the additional oil will not change the taste at all. Also, always read the label when you purchase hummus! There should be NO SUGAR!
As for the salmon…I eat salmon nearly every day. Three ounces in the afternoon with some veggies. I’ve discovered that my Instant Pot can take frozen salmon and have it done in 4 minutes! (Obviously, there’s the additional time to bring it up to pressure.) FOUR MINUTES! I put the frozen salmon fillets on the trivet, set the timer for 4 minutes, and walk away. I use a bit of lemon pepper seasoning for the salmon.
The Dreaded SCALE!!!
I’m talking about a food scale.
I used to have a plastic dial-type scale but recently upgraded to a digital scale since I started measuring and weighing nearly everything I ate. My meats typically get prepped in 3-ounce serving sizes…..MUCH easier to do with a digital scale. (The scale I’ve linked about has over 14K reviews on amazon. I don’t own this one – I got mine at Target.)
Putting It All Together
I wish I could say that assembly is easy, but I find it to be the most difficult part of food prep because I simply don’t have enough room in the fridge for every meal or snack to have it’s own container. I also wish I could say that I used awesome glass prep containers, but I don’t. I use plastic. These are the best I could find, and are also economical and easy to clean. If I’m just going back and forth to the office for the day, I use these. If I’m packing for night shifts, I use my 6-Pack Fitness containers with the actual cooler as these don’t fit as well in my cooler.
However, as I look up the links for you, I’m wishing I’d noticed THESE!!! How fun! I may have to order!
Time Spent Now = Freedom Tomorrow
I can’t stress enough how much time all this will save me this week. You guys know my schedule! It’s either commit to this, or I may as well not even try. I’d much rather commit!
I feel better. It’s much less stressful to NOT think about my food all week. Plus, if some of this can double for the family meals – it’s even better.
*My book – Weight Loss that Works: Secrets to Restoring Confidence and Reclaiming Your Body is now available on KINDLE! And, it will be available in paperback shortly! I’m overlooking the proof as we speak.
*Some of the links above are “affiliate links” – meaning I get a small percentage if you order the product. This does not cost you any extra! Please note that I do not endorse products that I’ve not used myself. If I’ve not used them, the text will say so.