Both of our Lifestyle Coaches are avid Meal Prep Queens. But, what exactly does that look like, and how much does it cost?! This week Bonnie is going to walk us through her process on planning a meal prep for her and her SO.
Step 1: Take Inventory & Pick a Recipe
I always like to start a meal prep by looking at what I still have in my fridge or freezer. This week that is chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, and polenta. I also wanted to use recipes that we already had posted on the Viva Bien Blog. Which led me to…
Breakfast – Spicy Cheesy Grits with Eggs (a variation on our Spicy Cheese Oats adapted from Leann Browns Good and Cheap Book)
Lunch – Buddha Bowls (recipe from our intern Illana)
Dinner – Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Salmon with Kale Salad
Step 2: Portion & Shop
I generally meal prep 5 servings of breakfast and lunch (for M-F) and 4 servings of dinner (for M-Th) per adult in our household. We like to allow ourselves a day to eat out each week (and usually have leftovers) and also a day to eat with family and friends (Friday). When I am deciding what to buy, I look at what is on sale and what I already have in my pantry. For this week’s meal prep, I already had a few ingredients I know I want to use.
One of the benefits of meal prep is that I rarely have extra food just lying around. Once we are through with our weekly meals, our fridge is bare aside from condiments. Sauces, condiments, and pantry non-perishables are the only think I will let accumulate in our stock pile. I was able to get all of our needed items for just under $100. Which means that each meal is an average of $3.51. And remember, we are having Salmon for dinner! (View Grocery list at end of recipe.)
Step 3: Check Nutrition Requirements
I track my food intake and log my exercise in an app called Chronometer. I like that it is very user friendly and extremely comprehensive. Once I create my meals, I can easily pre-fill my week and know that I’m on track for my goals . Sometimes, once creating my recipes, I find that I may fall short on a particular nutrient. Chronometer will help me easily identify that and offers the “oracle” to help find items to fill those gaps. Here is what this weeks meal prep looks like in Chronometer.
Specific to Bonnie: I know that I burn ~350 calories per day walking around the office and existing. Plus another ~350-400 calories during a daily workout. Since I aim to be around a 750 calorie per day deficit, this means that I need to eat about my basal metabolic rate in calories (1656) and I will burn off those extra 750 during my normal daily routine. So, while it may look like I’m over now, this will change on the day of.
Step 4: Meal Prep
It time for the fun and daunting part…. meal prep.
Breakfast – Grits are fast and easy to make, so I don’t need to do too much to prepare these. If I wanted to, I could measure out how much grits and spices I will need each morning and put them into small containers for quick breakfasts. However, it’s also not hard to measure out 2 things in the morning. So, I’m going just going to go into the morning with a plan and a measuring cup!
Lunch – These I do want to meal prep fully. Luckily, for this recipe, it just includes some time washing, chopping, and roasting in the oven. After picking up my groceries on Sunday morning, I get my SO to help me wash and chop the veggies. Then, I lay out parchment paper on baking trays and set up a rotation of veg through the oven. Once a pan of veggies is done, I toss them all into a large IKEA bowl. Once all the veggies are done, I’ll toss everything together and get ready to plate up!
- I only cook like things on a tray at a time. Your sweet potatoes and your chickpeas are not going to like being in the oven for the same amount of time.
- Leave some room. If your veggies are crowded and too close together on the pan, they will steam instead of roast. Sad!
- Make your dressing, split into 2, and put it in a jar to take to work with you. Otherwise, pouring the sauce on will leave your Friday meal prep soggy and unappetizing.
Dinner: Reheated fish is probably the worst thing you could ever ask me to eat. So, dinners will also be made fresh, but there are some things we can do ahead of time to make it quicker and less stressful.
First, we can portion our salmon into 4 oz steaks and cut our slit down the middle. Next, we can get our dressing together so all we have to do is shake and pour at dinnertime. Plus, we get our stuffing mixture mixed up. And lastly, wash, de-stem, and chop the kale for the salad. The rest of our salad add-ins won’t take too long to dice up and are really better freshly cut. What I like to do is make a list of things my partner can get started on before I get home. For this meal prep, it would include peeling and chopping the cucumber plus dicing the red onion and apple. But, doing this shouldn’t take longer than the salmon will stay in the oven!
Step 5: Plate Up
I like to weigh out my lunch portions to make sure that all 10 of them are equal. I would definitely be less strict about weighing things out if all my containers were the same. Alas, I use about 3 different types so to make sure they are roughly equal, I weigh them out. This is the most accurate way to do it, but please don’t think of it as a required step.
Step: 6 Enjoy!
Now you get to enjoy the fruits of your meal prep labor. Some of the reasons I like to meal prep are that I know I’m getting balanced meals all week long; it saves headache of trying to figure out what I’m going to make for breakfast, pack for lunch, or scrounge up for dinner; and it saves me time and money. What are some reasons you’d like to try meal prepping?!
Check out more recipe and tips on our Viva Bien Blog: