"Failing to plan is planning to fail".
This has become my meal prep mantra now that I have returned to work full time. When I was a stay at home mom planning breakfast and lunch was never an issue for me. As soon as I began working I realized how important having my meals planned out ahead of time was going to be if I was serious about staying on track with my goals. I never have time to mess with lunches in the morning while trying to get three kids and myself fed, dressed and out the door. Packing the night before was inconsistent and I knew I needed to get serious with a meal prepping plan if I didn't want to end up eating cafeteria food every other day.
Weekly meal prep to the rescue! Now, I'm not here to tell you this is an easy process. Getting started is the most overwhelming and daunting part! There is A LOT of infomation out there. I spent hours researching meal prep on the internet, checking out weekly meal ideas on Pinterest and putting together ideas that would work for my us. Neither my husband or myself wanted to eat the same thing every.single.day. We knew we had to customize the plan to our clean eating style and fitness level. Once my plan was in place, we ordered a set of ten divided meal prep containers online (oh, how I love you Amazon Prime!) and set aside a chunk of time on Sunday afternoons to prep for the work week ahead. The prep pictured above took me about one hour to prep, cook, and divide into the containers. The key here is working efficiently and doing as much overlapping as possible when cooking. Keep it simple!
This week's prep centered around grilled chicken and simple sides. Other weeks we include small portions of steak or pork tenderloin or go meatless for a day or two. Incorporating intentional leftovers is a great way to save time and add variety to your plan!
Lunches pictured for this week included grilled chicken fajita bowls and grilled chicken spaghetti squash "pasta". Halved, cooked sweet potatoes, salads, and leftover proteins are all great ways to do a quick and easy prep mid-week if you aren't comfortable making a full 5 day prep.
Here was my plan of attack:
1. Pre-heat oven to 375.
2. Trim and season chicken breasts while grill is heating.
3. Prep veggies while chicken is cooking. This week I used tri color peppers, onions and spaghetti squash.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise (carefully!!), scoop out seeds, brush with olive oil and lightly season. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile, let peppers and onions carmelize. Set aside once cooked.
4. Cook brown rice using desired method and quinoa steamable bag in microwave. (Feel free to cook quinoa on the stove too. I prefer the texture and ease of the bag in this case.) I use instant rice and cook on the stove top so this takes only 10 minutes. Times will vary depending on the type of rice and cooking method you choose. Set aside.
5. Once chicken is cooked, set aside to cool. Cut into strips.
6. Once cooled, shred the spaghetti squash into "noodles" using a fork.
7. Now that everything is cooked and cool enough to handle, you are ready to divide between your containers. I like to use my 21 Day Fix Extreme Portion Control containers to put the correct amount in each section, especially for my carbs since I tend to go heavy on these!
8. If desired, organize the extras and snacks you will include. This week I took apples, string cheese and avocados. 100 calorie pre-portioned guacamole packs are great if you don't want to wait for the perfect avocado! I also like nuts, homemade trail mix and hummus and cut up veggies for healthy, easy snacks.
9. Put your containers in the fridge, step back and enjoy seeing a week's worth of delicious, healthy lunches ready to grab and go!
Hi! I'm Erica, a fitness and healthy food loving wife and mother of three here to inspire you on your wellness journey!