Category: Meal Planning

Why Meal Prep?

If you’ve ever followed anyone who is into health and fitness, they probably talk about meal prep and show you how to meal prep. I recently heard from my husband that a friend of his, who is interested in joining our health and fitness community, had never even heard of meal prepping, so I thought to myself, maybe other’s need to know why meal prep is so easy and important, and how to do it… Here are my top 5 reasons to meal prep (and don’t worry, I have plans for next week to share my weekly meal prep plans)

  1. It saves time! I make a plan on usually Saturdays or Sundays and then go shopping for the week. It takes me a total of two hours I would say to make the plan, go to the store, and put the food away. I don’t have to do any more thinking and I don’t have to take extra trips to the grocery store. This may look different if you live in NYC for instance though. If you do go to the grocery store more than once a week, you go in with a plan and leave with what you need. The meal planning makes it less likely for you to buy random junk.
  2. It saves money! Now I’ll be honest – we have been known to waste some food since we meal prep for the week (and would love suggestions to avoid this), which drives me crazy (and something we’re working on), but we eat out less and we order less. When I wasn’t so into meal prepping, we would eat out regularly or order delivery more than once a week… While I still love a good take out night and a good date night, we plan those… It no longer becomes a random choice to enjoy someone cooking for us, and we honestly enjoy it more and we save money by not eating out so much. Plus we’re finding ways to enjoy take out tasting food with less calories and more importantly, less sodium.
  3. Mornings go faster! My husband and I eat the same thing each week for breakfast so we just grab and go. Almost regularly I have an egg bake made for him that he can just take and heat up at work. For me, I  like to switch it up weekly, but I like to eat the same thing each day in a week. This week is overnight oats and I just grab and go.
  4. You’ll be more likely to try something new. When I have a lot of time to meal prep, I always find really exciting new recipes and avoid the mundane same 5 recipes. While I definitely have my go to meals, we’ve come across some amazing recipes that both my husband and I cook.
  5. The obvious one – it’s healthier! We know what we are eating, when we’re eating, and have more control of what we’re eating. We’re able to plan for our dietary needs right now and not hope that there is healthy food in the house to eat.

The best part is it is easier than it looks. Meal prep can be as simple as cooking up some protein, chopping some veggies, and prepping some breakfast.

 

Thinking about posting my weekly meal prep recipes and plans? Let me know if that is something you’d be interested in reading!

Healthy Chicken Cacciatore

(Gotta love the image… this is what happens when you post to Insta Stories and don’t save the photo first)

I always work to find and make healthy and quick delicious meals for the weekday! Most days I get home after 7 pm and want to be in bed before 10, so my goal is to make it quick and simple! I’ve also been working on eliminating carbs at dinner and finding alternatives!

Since my honeymoon, I’ve lost 8 pounds and am 0.4 away from wedding weight (hoping to be at wedding weight at my weigh-in Saturday). One of the biggest things that has helped me is no carbs at dinner and mostly veggies instead. Carbs give you energy so you don’t need them to sleep. Veggies on the other hand get you full and the little protein I add keeps me full until the next day!

So here is a healthy version of chicken cacciatore that can be made in 1 pot and in less than 30 minutes (and even less time if you buy precut things)

Ingredients

  • 1-2 pounds of chicken breast, cut into bite stir pieces
  • 1 tbsp oil (I used coconut oil, but olive oil works well too)
  • 1 onion, cut
  • 2 peppers, cut
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 small potato (I added this because it came in our CSA this week but totally does not need it)
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • Basil, salt, pepper
  • Directions
    1. Heat oil in large skillet or wok… add chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes
      Add onion, pepper, and garlic and cook for additional 3-4 minutes, or until veggies begin to soften
      Add tomatoes, optional potato, and eggplant. Season with salt and pepper and basil… I used a few pieces of fresh basil but dried would also work
      Simmer for 7-10 minutes or until eggplant is soft… Enjoy!

    Serving Options

    1. My husband and I love hot sauce so we naturally put some in
    2. The tomatoes make it a little liquidy, which I like and the broth is delicious! You can serve this over a veggie rice like cauliflower rice or brown rice if you are eating carbs at dinner
    3. Feel free to add any veggie to this dish! The original recipe I got this idea from (The Beachbody Blog) had mushrooms and zucchini.
  • As alway, let me know what you think! If you post it on social media, make sure to tag me at @lovelearninghealth
  • Day 4 – what to do when hungry 

    Hunger got the best of me yesterday; however, rather than giving up, I ate an extra serving of vegetables and that held me over for another two hours before dinner! I contemplated adding an extra protein too, but I’m glad I just had the veggies and then made the decision on the protein! I’ve always been the type of eater who gets what I think I may want because I may still be hungry… but just like yesterday, I need to have a little and then decide if I want more! Food isn’t going anywhere and it’s readily available if I need it!

    Besides that, the program is kicking my ass… in a good way! Every ounce of me is sore… even sitting here typing I can feel each muscle! It’s hard to go full out when I’m this sore but I love knowing I’m doing my body right!

    Here is a picture of dinner last night! Jalapeño and cheddar turkey burgers… no bun! It was so delicious!

    Diet verse Lifestyle

    I have been gone a while from this blog, but I’m back and committing to write as much as possible to help YOU learn different ways to maintain a healthy and fit lifestyle.

    I’ve been very consistent with exercise this summer, but diet… not so much. I’m committing to refocusing my energy on clean eating and portion control to get me as healthy as possible.

    Because of that, I wanted to focus on the difference of a diet and a lifestyle. A lot of people ask me if I’m still “on that diet” or if a certain food is “allowed” on a diet. Those phrases, and similar phrases, really annoyed me and only recently did I realize why. I realized, I was annoyed because the word “diet” to me means that someone is overweight or thinks they are overweight and unhealthy and wants to lose weight and in order to do that, they are going to follow a plan for a certain amount of time. Some of you reading this may need to lose weight, but it is not a temporary thing! I don’t consider my food choices to be temporary. For me and hopefully a lot of you, the choices you make are because of a lifestyle choice. If you are eating healthy, following a specific “diet” such as 21 day fix containers or paleo, remember, that you are making a lifestyle choice The ultimate goal of those philosophies/programs is to get you as healthy as possible by eating real, clean food. All of these lifestyle choices, allow you to be in control of what you put in your body. If you want a margarita or a piece of cake, go for it. As long as you know its not your typical lifestyle choice, and you go back to your healthy lifestyle afterwards.

    Let’s work together to change the language and connotation for those of us who are choosing to make healthy food our normal lifestyle!

    Being Consistent During the Holidays

    Well, I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been far from consistent between the sweets, extra alcoholic beverages, stress, and less time to work out. I woke up today determined to at least track my food using MyFitnessPal and when one of my colleagues offered me homemade toffee at 9 am, I caved. Disgusting, right?

    Except, it wasn’t disgusting, it was delicious! What was disgusting, was that I then proceeded to have cheat meals for every meal including both French Onion Soup and a Caesar Salad with two glasses of wine for lunch to celebrate school being out for 11 days. I’ve always firmly believed in the 80% clean rule, 20% cheat meals, but I need to remember that if I eat that 20% at 9 am, then the rest of the day is 80%.

    I’ve put in too much work the past few months to get to where I am, and I’m not going to risk reversing all that during this holiday season. Does that mean I’m not going to have my mom’s holiday cookies? Absolutely not, but it does mean, that the rest of that day, I’ll be focusing on clean eating and making sure I get my work outs in.

    Happy Holidays Everyone!

    Day 7 – Another Recipe (Ranch Chicken)

    Well, I fell into my problem of morning work outs and I had a poor mindset this morning. I knew I had a limited amount of time that I could squeeze one in after work so that is my plan (Dirty 30 Extreme).

    That being said, I want to share another clean eating recipe… ranch chicken. Not only was this delicious and a large portion, but it also is just a one – pot meal.

    Ingredients:

    2 teaspoons olive oil

    1 pound of chicken – cute into bite sized pieces

    1/2 red onion

    2 peppers (I used one yellow and one orange)

    1 zucchini

    1/2 can black beans drained and rinsed

    1 bag of boil in a bag instant brown rice

    1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

    1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

    1 cup cheddar cheese

     

    Ranch Seasoning (Mix the following in a bowl):

    1 tsp of the following: dill, garlic powder, onion powder, dried minced onions

    1 tbs: parsley

    Salt & Pepper

     

    Instructions:

    1. In a skillet, heat oil on medium high. Add diced chicken, diced onions, and ranch seasoning. Saute and stir often until most of the pink in the chicken is gone.
    2. Add bell peppers, zucchini, beans, tomatoes, rice, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Then simmer on low for 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked and rice is tender.
    3. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the skillet and let stand for 5 minutes or until the liquid is observed.

     

    Enjoy!

    1 serving = 1/4 of the skillet (so 4 servings)

    1 Red, 1 Blue, 1 Yellow, 1 1/2 Green

    Day 5 – Importance of Meal Planning

    Well, I listened to my own advice from yesterday about really doing what you love when working out. I’m training for another half marathon so today it was my long run day (5 miles). Rather than also doing 21 Day Fix, I allowed myself to just run. I knew I wouldn’t enjoy doing 21 Day Fix Cardio Extreme today with the run so it was important for me on my fitness journey to do what makes me happy for long term fitness gains.

    That being said, its Sunday and I know the importance of the meal planning and meal prep on Sundays. This is something I am not consistent with but knowing what I’m eating for each meal, not only saves me time each day, but it also holds me accountable. I am not going to go for an extra snack for example if it is not on my meal plan or I’m not going to add cheese to dinner since I already have my blue container for another meal for instance.

    Below is my meal plan for the week. On the 21 Day Fix I stay within the 1,500 – 1,700 calorie bracket because I’m active throughout the day and I run 3 times a week. With this, I’m allowed 4 veggies, 3 fruits, 4 proteins, 3 carbs, 1 healthy fat, 1 seed, and 4 teaspoons of oils.

    1,500 – 1,700 Sample Day

    Breakfast Shakeology, Unsweetended Almond Milk (1/2 serving = 1 cup), ½ Cup Frozen Fruit, Banana, Coconut

    Protein, 1/2 Carb, 1 1/2 Fruit

    Snack Raw Veggies, Wheat Thins, Clementine

    1 1/2 Veggies, Carb, 1/2 Fruit

    Lunch Turkey Sausage Squash Casserole (see day 6 for recipe)

    Veggie, Protein, 1/2 Healthy Fat

    Snack Greek Yogurt, 4 Wheat Thins 

    Protein, 1/2 Carb

    Dinner One Pot Ranch Chicken (1 ½ veggies, ½ blue)

    Protein, 1/2 Healthy Fat, Carb, 1 1/2 Veggie

    Snack Apple with Peanut Butter

    Fruit, Oil

    Continue reading “Day 5 – Importance of Meal Planning”