Eating Healthy During the Week: Meal Prep

Weekdays suck. I don’t mean that they are terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. I mean that they literally suck all of the life and energy out of you. If I get to Friday and I haven’t said “I really want pizza” one time, it’s been an amazing week. Usually, by around Thursday, I’m so beat that I absolutely cannot cook one single thing.

If this were me last year, I’d just hope that I had some kind of leftovers to take for lunch, and that those leftovers were mildly healthy. This year, though, you’re looking at a new me. And a new Tim, too! He’s loving this eating healthy thing so much that he’s totally into this whole Paleo process. It’s always easier – and more fun – with a sous chef in the kitchen.

Because our weekday schedules are so grueling between his cross country practice (and volleyball later in the year) and my writing, after school groups, and speech team practice, we don’t have a whole lot of time between getting home from school and getting ready for bed. This is where meal prepping comes in. We prepare our breakfasts and lunches so there’s no excuse to grab a bagel or run to McDonald’s during the week because we’re too beat to make food.

A fair warning: Meal prep is a lot of work. I mean A LOT. Tim does half of it and it still takes us about 3-4 hours on a Sunday depending on what we have for dinner that night. However, it saves at least that much work during the week, and it makes eating healthy a no brainer. So let’s take a look at my Sunday night stocked fridge and freezer, shall we?

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There it is! Well, most of it, anyway. If you think our fridge and freezer look really clean, you’re right. We tend to clean it out as we prep, which makes everything just a little easier. It also eliminates the question of whether or not something is good to eat. If we’ve tossed it, it wasn’t good anymore.

Let’s start from the top with the freezer. In my freezer on every Sunday night are 10 spinach smoothies. I blend two at a time and put them in mason jars and toss them in the freezer. Every day, I take my lunch out of the fridge (because I’ve already packed it the night before) and toss one of these green monsters into my bag. It thaws by lunchtime and doubles as a freeze pack to keep the other food in the lunch bag cold. You can make smoothies this way out of almost anything, but if you are freezing them in mason (or other glass) jars be sure to leave about an inch at the top so the smoothie can expand as it freezes without breaking the glass. Here is my recipe! I think this is delicious and a great way to get fruit, protein, green leafy veggies, and a bunch of calcium.

Paleo Spinach Smoothies
Makes 2 16-oz smoothies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 heaping spoonfuls of almond butter
  • 2 large handfuls (about 1/2 package) baby spinach
  • cinnamon to taste (I use LOTS of cinnamon!)

Directions:

Put all of the ingredients in the blender and blend for a full minute or until spinach is fully blended. You may need to add some spinach then blend it down a bit, then add the rest before fully blending it.

Next is my cucumber and lemon infused water. I drink a full pitcher of water a day, and I can use the fruit I put in the pitcher twice. I slice up about 1/4 of a cucumber and 1/2 of a lemon, muddle it up a bit, then fill the pitcher with water. If I drink the full pitcher, it’s about 8 8-oz glasses of water a day, which is just what I need! I’ll usually drink 16 oz in the morning with breakfast, then fill up a 24 oz water bottle for the day at school (I also drink a lot of tea at school), then I drink the rest at home, which is about another 24 oz water bottle full.

Next to my pitcher is my lunch bag. It’s packed and ready to go for tomorrow! All I need to do is add my smoothie and I’m good to go.

Next to that are my hard boiled eggs. Of course, I buy the Omega-3 enriched eggs from Trader Joe’s, so I buy half a dozen of them and hard boil them on Sundays while I’m making the smoothies. Then, I have one each day for breakfast along with a piece of fruit. Yum!

Underneath that, I have baggies of vegetables and berries. We’re big on the anti-inflammatory foods around here, both because of my acne and Tim’s various running injuries, so we usually opt for blueberries and raspberries as one of our servings of fruit per day. We’ll wash all of the berries we buy at once, then I divide them up into 10 baggies so Tim and I can each have one per day of the week. For vegetables, we slice up cucumbers, carrots, and celery. I put them in 10 baggies, too, so we can grab them and go.

Finally, we have cooked shrimp and chicken. Shrimp is super easy to make, especially if you buy the pre-cooked kind from the grocery store. Just thaw it and enjoy! Our chicken is easy and yummy, too. Tim makes it while I’m prepping other things, then he cuts it up and separates it out into lunch-sized portions. This makes packing a protein super easy if there aren’t any leftovers from dinner to take. Here’s the recipe:

Seasoned Lemon Chicken
Makes 3 Chicken Breasts

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts – boneless and skinless
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp steak seasoning (we use Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
  • 1 lemon, sliced

Directions:

Grease a cookie sheet or baking dish.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix rosemary and seasoning together. Rub onto both sides of each chicken breast. Lay the chicken on the baking sheet. Lay slices of lemon on top of each chicken breast (I usually use 2 slices per breast).

Bake for 40 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. You shouldn’t see any pink in your chicken!

That’s it! If you can do more than one thing at a time – like cook the chicken while you make the smoothies and boil eggs while you cut up vegetables, you should be able to do all of this in 3-4 hours. Once you’re done, though, you’ll be so sick of cooking that you might just want McDonald’s for dinner. To avoid that, we’ve been making quick crockpot meals that we put together before we start prepping. That way, you have a healthy meal waiting for you when your cooking is all done!

Now, if only we could eat this well on the weekends…

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2 thoughts on “Eating Healthy During the Week: Meal Prep

  1. Pingback: Meal Prepping for Success | Fearless Food & Fitness

  2. Great tips on the fruit and veggie baggies. I wash and put in an airtight container, but baggies never occurred to me! No clue why…genius.

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