I like to food prep.
And take pictures of it. Duh. We know this.
Food prep. The cool way of saying: spend a bunch of time in the kitchen making food in advance. But it works. Trust. I truly believe that prepping food on the weekend plays a major part in my ability to eat healthy during the week. I started prepping my food when I was living on my own in university and began making changes to eat better. If it was ready for me and in the fridge, I was far less likely to order pizza. Healthy eating really comes down to being prepared. On the weekend, I like to prepare my pre/post workout snacks, lunches and things for quick n easy weeknight meals.
I have been working on this post for awhile – I am obviously a huge advocate for food prepping. I’ve posted about prepping in the past (here and here) but I thought it might be helpful to actually break it down. So welcome to my kitchen. Here’s what I do.
Obviously every week is a little different. If I am really short on time I just focus on getting veggies chopped. A little still goes a long way as it will save you time during a busy week.
But, on average, I do a lot more. I aim to prepare veggies, a few protein options, a big-batch-meal and if I am feeling extra motivated some homemade snacks. Welcome to
my kitchen my parent’s kitchen that I take over at the present time…
First, veggies. I love to roast some up in the oven… especially brussels sprouts and broccoli.
I wash and cut the broccoli into florets, peel the outer layer off the brussels sprouts and cut them in half. I drizzle melted coconut oil on the brussels (or a combo of olive oil and balsamic. I don’t put anything on the broccoli because I like them crispy – thanks to my friend J for this suggestion. Then I roast them in the oven at 400F for 30 minutes – flipping them around half-way through.
Then I use all my power to cut a spaghetti squash in half (or enlist mom or dad). Take out the goop and seeds, put some water in a pyrex (about 2 inches), place the spaghetti squash cut side down and pop that in the oven with the rest of the veggies but it takes longer than the brocc and brussels – about 45 minutes at 400F or until the outer skin is soft to the touch. More detailed spag squash directions here.
While that is all roasting, I work on something else. I have been loving sweet potato hash – but I can now spiralize sweet potatoes – eek so exciting! (Yes I bought the spiralizer yesterday!) Anyways, to make the hash puree 6 sweet potatoes in the food processor (you can even do this ahead of time) and then in a few batches sautee it on the stove in coconut oil until soft.
I don’t season it while cooking because I like to have options with the sweet potato throughout the week: sometimes I like it sweet (cinnamon) or sometimes I like it savory (herbs) or sometimes it’s great just sauteed in coconut oil. Here’s a great recipe for sweet potato hash. If hash isn’t your thing (LOL) then just throw the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet with your other veggies to roast or make sweet potato fries
I also like to make roasted sweet potatoes. Simply pierce your sweet potatoes with a fork (I also like to rub some coconut oil on the outside), place them on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake at 400F for 30-45 minutes – depending on the size of the potatoes, just check on them (they should feel soft but not mushy). Then I wait for them to cool, peel them, and dice them into cubes for easy meals.
One more sweet potato option: steamed sweet potatoes. Peel your sweet potatoes with a vegetable peeler and then cut into halves (or thirds) so it will fit in your pot and steamer. Put a vegetable steamer in a pot and fill with water (just until it begins to flow through the steamer). Add your sweet potato pieces and bring to a boil. Depending on the size of the sweet potato, your cooking time will vary between 15-20 minutes… just poke it with a fork!
Once the veggies are done, allow them to cool and then store them in air-tight containers.
Other veggies I like to prep: chopping peppers, celery, carrots, cucumber; roasting asparagus; making cauliflower rice; whatever you like! I keep my pre-cooked/chopped veggies for 5-7 days in the fridge in a sealed container.
Good? Great. Next, protein. Lately, I have been making hard boiled eggs a lot so let’s start with that. I place 6-8 eggs in a pot then add water until it just about covers the eggs. Then put it on the stove, bring to a boil. Once boiling, set a timer for 10 minutes. Then your eggs are done. Immediately run cold water over the eggs and then remove from pot, run some more cold water on them and then peel. Done. (Keep peeled eggs in sealed container in the fridge for 5 days).
While my eggs are cooking, I start preparing another make ahead protein option – like shredded chicken. I usually pre-cook 4-6 chicken breasts every week. This is great to have pre-made for quick n easy lunches – throw it with the veggies I’ve cooked, add some avocado, an apple, almonds… boom, done, lunch.
By this point, I usually take a break. I’ve done a lot, my parents want their kitchen back and I’m tired. Eat lunch, watch some TV, chill. If it’s Saturday, I might even stop for the day and do the rest on Sunday. When I am feeling refreshed, I get back to it.
Okay now I’m refreshed. Next up: big-batch-meals. Like salmon sweet potato cakes. This is such an easy make-ahead option. All it takes is one bowl. I’ve been doubling the recipe so it lasts longer. I like having these after a workout with some veggies and avocado or for dinner with just about anything – like a mango and avocado salad Yum!
This is not very labor intensive, so I prepare another big-batch-meal. I have been making a ground beef thing with green pepper, celery, onion and a can of tomatoes with some seasoning. If I actually measure things soon I will share the recipe – it’s really good over some spaghetti squash noodles.
I also love making Juli’s “almost-5-ingredient-spaghetti pie”. It is delicious and great to have in the fridge for a busy week.
Okay so that’s a lot of work. I get it. If I am feeling particularly ambitious I find some time to prepare snacks.
If I don’t have time (or energy) to make balls/bites/bars, a handful of nuts and a few dates or other dried fruit, hard boiled eggs, avocado does the trick – or a Larabar.
That’s typically how it goes. Not too bad right?
As I’ve mentioned, I keep everything I prep in separate containers in the fridge – I think it stays fresher this way. Then the night before, I assemble the meals I need for the next day.
Obviously I still need to cook throughout the week but having food made before-hand makes a world of difference if you are trying to eat real and delicious food. A lot of people ask me: don’t you get bored of eating the same thing all week? Well no. It really isn’t the same thing. By preparing the ingredients you can put together a bunch of different meals all week!
Yes it takes time. Sometimes I don’t want to do it. But I always feel better afterwards. I hope you do/will too :)
Also… every Sunday, Lindsay posts food prep inspiration from bloggers and readers. It’s awesome so go get inspired and tag with me on Twitter or Instagram so I can see all of your prepping awesomeness :)
Questions of the day…
Do you food prep? If you don’t, now you’re going to start right?!
What strategies do you employ?
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