Sunday, September 11, 2016

First Meal Prep

Two weeks ago, we finally sort of meal prepped since being home from the beach. We have been trying to eat out less, which does not happen in much, but having things already cooked truly does prevent us from eating out/eating badly. While there's no "right way" to meal prep, I just looked at the posts on Shutterbean for inspiration and thought about other things that would be useful in our kitchen. Cole usually makes chicken for himself every week to eat alongside our always vegetarian meals, while everything I prep is, of course, vegetarian. 

So where to begin? There are a lot of ways that I could write about this, but if you're starting to meal prep, consider this: what times do you need convenient meals? For me, it's breakfasts, snacks, and maybe a few things here and there for lunch. I have to get up at 5:30 AM 5 days of the week, so having something already made for breakfast saves on time and prevents me from not really eating breakfast. Having healthy snacks pre made and prepped helps me to not snack on chips while I'm at work or other unhealthy items.

When I work out, I usually have breakfast, a little snack later on in the morning, and a workout shake before I workout. After the gym, I eat a somewhat late lunch with plenty of carbs and protein, and later on is dinner. Having things like cooked rice, quinoa, millet, and other grains in the fridge makes it simple to pull together a quick lunch. Here's a great tutorial on how to cook quinoa, my favorite protein-packed grain, along with meal ideas to get you started!

Something else that helps is our magnetic "dry erase chalkboard" on our fridge - where I list our meals for the week, as well as what's in the fridge. This was so helpful in creating lunches for us using leftovers, and knowing what needed to be eaten down before it went bad. So here's what we made for the first week:

- Deviled Egg Salad - [on toast for breakfast, sandwiches with power greens, or scooped onto a salad] - I've never improvised egg salad but essentially I minced about 1/4 cup red onion and 2 celery stalks. Hard-boiled 5 eggs for 14 minutes. After boiling, I diced it using an egg slicer, then added roughly 1/2 cup vegan mayo, celery/onion, 1/2 TBS stoneground mustard, a heavy dash of Fox Point, salt, pepper, lemon pepper, and smoked paprika. Mix together and enjoy! Honestly, I made this egg salad the same way that I make my deviled eggs, and it was perfect.

- Greek salad dressing - [salads or as a light dressing on anything] We bought a 5 pound bag of power greens, so I was really pushing salads during this week and I made a salad dressing. However, next time, I will definitely double/triple a dressing because we used all of it in a night! 
- Mediterranean quinoa salad - [lunches and dinners] This easy, tangy quinoa salad definitely saved us many times throughout the week. I added a dash of white balsamic vinegar each time, and we both added extra protein (like vegan chikn cutlets or eggs).
- Morning glory protein bars - [snacks/pre-workout] These protein bars are absolutely packed with protein - and the best part is that you can customize them based on whatever you happen to have in your pantry. I added flax seeds on top, coconut, and used dried cranberries/raisins/golden raisins for the dried fruit. I loved these as snacks while I was at work, and especially before a workout because of the carb/protein combo!

Here are the meals that we made this week for dinner:

- Hearty Southwest Lentil Veggie Soup - This soup was so ridiculously tasty and easy to make after a few hours of meal prepping! It also made a ton of soup, which means we had plenty of leftovers. I served each bowl with the chipotle crema, crushed tortilla chips, plus a handful of cilantro. And if you left the crema out, I'm sure this would be freezer friendly! Sometimes it's nice to have a big batch of soup to eat throughout the week.
- Saucy Fish Tacos - We have been using our apartment complex's grill a lot lately, usually once a week, so I've been trying to find new recipes for us to try. We love fish tacos, and these just looked so good! We used frozen, wild caught flounder (fresh would be amazing, of course), skipped some of the toppings, but the sauce is a must. It is so good, flavorful, and versatile. Not only is it amazing on these tacos, but it also paved the way for a few nights of amazing dinners. We made burrito bowls two nights in a row using the leftover grilled poblano sauce. They consisted of jasmine rice, canned vegan refried black beans, salsa, hot sauce, avocado, cilantro, and the sauce. SO good! And don't forget the Caipirinhas!

Overview: For our first meal prep, it went pretty well! Next time I'd like to prep everything on one day, instead of over two days. We definitely bought too many salad greens/didn't eat enough of them, so I think maybe not buying a 5 pound Costco bag next time is a good idea. We ate out on Saturday, so I would like to avoid that next time as well.

Next time: homemade salsa, granola, coconut flour PB2 cookies, vegan Parmesan, and cooked rice

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