Meal Prep Ideas

Everyone these days seems to be so crazy busy that they don’t seem to have time for anything.  This seems to be especially true for Moms.  They often put everyone else’s needs first and forget to take care of themselves.  They often tend to neglect their health and do not get the proper nutrition that they need to maintain their health.  As a result, they tend to put on weight and can’t seem to get it off.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  Simply planning ahead can actually save you a lot of time and stress.  And, you will be eating healthy nutritious meals all week long.  It will also save you money from eating out.

The benefits are seemingly endless: all your meals are organized for the week ahead, there’s no last-minute fussing about what to cook, and you’re less tempted to reach for chips or takeout when you have a nutritious option ready to go. When you’re prepared, you are going to make getting out of the door every morning a stress-free breeze.  

I find that I have the most success when I prepare all of my meals the night before and go shopping once per week.  I just get all of the cooking out of the way so that I can spend the next day or two reaping the benefits.  Try doubling a recipe so that it will last for more than one day.  And have fun looking for new, healthy recipes to try!

Breakfast

  • Frittata

From www.foodnetwork.com: Ingredients: 1 small zucchini, 1-inch-diced, 1 red bell pepper, seeded and 1 1/2-inch-diced, 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and 1 1/2-inch-diced, 1 red onion, 1 1/2-inch-diced, 1/3 cup good olive oil, Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves), 12 extra-large eggs, 1 cup half-and-half, 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, 1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (3 scallions), 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese.  Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Place the zucchini, peppers, and onion on a sheet pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and toss well. Bake for 15 minutes. Add the garlic, toss again, and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn the oven to 350 degrees.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  In a 10-inch ovenproof saute pan, melt the butter and saute the scallions over medium-low heat for 1 minute. Add the roasted vegetables to the pan and toss with the scallions. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cook for 2 minutes over medium-low heat without stirring. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake the frittata for 20 to 30 minutes, until puffed and set in the middle. Sprinkle with the Gruyere and bake for another 3 minutes, until the cheese is just melted. Cut into 6 or 8 wedges and serve hot.

  • Strawberry Oatmeal Smoothie

From www.allrecipes.com.  Ingredients: 1 cup soy milk, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 banana, 14 frozen strawberries 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Directions: In a blender, combine soy milk, oats, banana and strawberries. Add vanilla if desired. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.

  • Overnight Oats

From www.minimalistbaker.com.  Ingredients: 1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened plain almond milk, 3/4 Tbsp (9 g) chia seeds, 2 Tbsp (32 g) natural salted peanut butter or almond butter (creamy or crunchy), 1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup (or sub coconut sugar, organic brown sugar, or stevia to taste), 1/2 cup (45 g) gluten free rolled oats.  Directions: To a mason jar or small bowl add almond milk, chia seeds, peanut butter, and maple syrup (or other sweetener) and stir with a spoon to combine. The peanut butter doesn’t need to be completely mixed with the almond milk (doing so leaves swirls of peanut butter to enjoy the next day).  Add oats and stir a few more times, then press down with a spoon to ensure all oats have been moistened and are immersed in almond milk.  Cover securely with a lid or plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 6 hours).  The next day, open and enjoy as is, or garnish with desired toppings (see options above).  Overnight oats will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, though best within the first 12-24 hours.

Lunch

  • Protein-Packed Salad

From theveggieindian.com.  Ingredients: 1 can chickpeas, 1 can red kidney beans, 1 piece small of ginger grated or shredded, 1 medium onion diced, 2- 3 cloves garlic, 1   tbsp olive oil, A pinch of red chili flakes, 3-4 spring onions green part only, chopped, scallions
1 cup chopped parsley OR coriander I used cilantro, Juice of one lemon, 150 g  feta cheese – almost half cup size, Salt and Black pepper  Instructions:  Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook the red onion till lightly golden. Do not overdo it and the onions should still be crunchy.  Add garlic and chili and cook till the garlic is fragrant. Set aside to cool so it doesn’t melt the feta when you mix it in.  Drain the chickpeas and red kidney beans, rinse and place in the salad bowl. Add crumbled feta, spring onion, parsley ( or coriander )  and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper.  Add the cooled onion and garlic mixture and remaining oil and mix well.

  • Hummus and veggie wrap

From www.foodnetwork.com.  2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, Pinch freshly ground black pepper, 1 cup store-bought hummus, 4 pieces whole-wheat wrap bread (about 9 inches in diameter), 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted, 1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced, 2 ounces baby spinach leaves (2 cups lightly packed), 1/2 cup red onion thinly sliced into half moons.  Directions: Preheat the grill or grill pan over medium heat. Brush both sides of the zucchini slices with the oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Grill until tender and slightly browned, about 4 minutes per side.  Spread 1/4 cup of the hummus over each piece of bread. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of pine nuts on top. Top with 3 slices of zucchini, 2 pieces of red pepper, 1/2 cup of the spinach, a few sliced onions, and 1 tablespoon of the mint. Roll each of them up and cut in half on a diagonal.

  • Lentil Soup

From ohsheglows.com.  Ingredients: 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 cups (280 grams) diced onion (1 medium/large), 2 large garlic cloves, minced, 2 teaspoons ground turmeric, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1 (15-ounce/398 mL) can diced tomatoes, with juices, 1 (15-ounce/398 mL) can full-fat coconut milk*, 3/4 cup (140 grams) uncooked red lentils, rinsed and drained, 3 1/2 cups (875 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth, 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste, Freshly ground black pepper, to taste, Red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, to taste (for a kick of heat!), 1 (5-ounce/140-gram) package baby spinach, 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, or more to taste.  Directions: In a large pot, add the oil, onion, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt, stir, and sauté over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes until the onion softens.  Stir in the turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom until combined. Continue cooking for about 1 minute, until fragrant.  Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), entire can of coconut milk, red lentils, broth, salt, and plenty of pepper. Add red pepper flakes or cayenne, if desired, to taste. Stir to combine. Increase heat to high and bring to a low boil.  Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium-high, and simmer, uncovered, for about 18 to 22 minutes, until the lentils are fluffy and tender.  Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach until wilted. Add the lime juice to taste. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Ladle into bowls and serve with toasted bread and lime wedges.

Dinner

  • Rice and Beans with your favorite veggies

From nomeatathlete.com.  Ingredients: 1 cup dry brown rice, 1 can drained and rinsed beans, or 2 cups cooked, 1 onion, chopped, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies a thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, minced, 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro.  Directions: Cook the brown rice in a rice steamer or follow the directions here.  Heat up the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat and fry the onion for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and fry for an additional 5 minutes.  Stir in the beans and heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste.   Serve with rice.  Stir the curry powder and cinnamon into the chickpea and onion mixture.  Fry for a minute, than add the ginger and tomatoes and their juices.  Cook on medium-high heat for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes no longer taste raw.  Stir the cilantro into the rice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

  • Baked Tofu with veggies

From epicurious.com.  Ingredients: , 1 block (14 ounces) extra firm tofu, 4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons canola or sesame oil, 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced, 8 stalks fresh asparagus, hot pepper oil.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Drain the tofu of excess water. Cut the block of tofu in half horizontally, and in half again to make four “steaks.” Place between paper towels and press to get any remaining water out. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce and oil. Place the tofu on the baking sheet and brush with the marinade. Let sit for at least twenty minutes or up to two hours in the fridge, letting the juices soak in. Toss the asparagus and red pepper in 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and arrange on the baking sheet next to the tofu slices. Season everything with a generous sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake in the oven for about one hour, turning once, until tofu is golden and crispy. The edges should look crispy and glazed and the vegetables should be caramelized. Brush any extra sauce over top if necessary. Remove from the oven and plate the tofu slices with the vegetables. Serve with a drizzling of hot pepper oil. *** Make your own hot pepper oil by heating 5 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper in a small saucepan until the oil starts to bubble and brown. Place in a lidded container and set aside for a few days so the infusion has time to really come alive and age. Use sparingly to add flavor and spice to any dish. But be careful, this is going to be spicy!

 

  • Veggie burger on whole grain bun

 

Ingredients: 1 cup (155 g) cooked brown rice*, 1 cup (120 g) raw walnuts (or sub bread crumbs), 1/2 Tbsp grape seed or avocado oil, plus more for cooking, 1/2 white onion (~55 g | 3/4 cup), finely diced, 1 Tbsp (~8 g) each chili powder, cumin powder, and smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp each sea salt and black pepper, plus more for coating burgers, 1 Tbsp (12 g) coconut sugar (or sub organic brown or muscovado sugar), 1 1/2 cups (227 g) cooked black beans*, well rinsed, drained and patted dry, 1/3 cup (22 g) panko bread crumbs (if gluten free, use gluten free bread crumbs), 3-4 Tbsp (51-68 g) vegan BBQ sauce.  If your brown rice isn’t cooked yet, start there by following this method for the best results. Otherwise, move onto the next step.  Heat skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add raw walnuts and toast for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden brown. Let cool and move onto the next step.  In the meantime, heat the same skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add 1/2 Tbsp oil and onion.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until onion is fragrant, soft, and translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.  Once walnuts are cooled, add to blender or food processor with chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and coconut sugar and blend until a fine meal (see photo) is achieved. Set aside.  To a large mixing bowl, add drained, dried black beans and mash well with a fork, leaving only a few whole beans (see photo).  Next add cooked rice, spice-walnut mixture, sautéed onion, panko bread crumbs, BBQ sauce, and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon for 1-2 minutes, or until a moldable dough forms. If dry, add extra 1-2 Tbsp BBQ sauce. If too wet, add more panko bread crumbs. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  For larger burgers, divide into 5 patties (1/2 cup in size), or form 10 smaller burgers (1/4 cup in size). To help form the patties, line your 1/2 or 1/4 measuring cup with plastic wrap and pack with burger mixture. Press down to pack firmly, then lift out by the plastic wrap’s edge, and slightly flatten with hands to form a 3/4-inch thick patty. Set on a baking sheet or plate for grilling.  If grilling, heat the grill at this time and brush the grill surface with oil to ease cooking. Otherwise, heat the same skillet you used earlier to medium heat.
Once skillet is hot, add just enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of your skillet, then add your burgers – only as as many as will comfortably fit in the pan. Otherwise, add burgers to the grill and close lid.  Cook for 3-4 minutes or until well browned on the underside, then flip gently. They aren’t as firm as meat burgers, but will definitely hold their shape. Reduce heat if cooking/browning too quickly. Cook for 3-4 minutes on other side.  Remove burgers from heat to let cool slightly, and prepare any other toppings/sides at this time (such as grilling/toasting your buns).  Serve burgers as is, or on toasted buns with desired toppings. Leftovers keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. See notes for freezing/reheating instructions.

Snacks

  • Hard Boiled Egg with salt and/or pepper

78 calories for one large egg. Keeps in fridge for up to one week, store in lunch cooler or fridge. Consider writing the date on each egg to keep track of how long it will be good for.   Food Network Directions: “Place your eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover, remove from the heat and set aside 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, cool in ice water and peel.”

  • Homemade Trail Mix

In-Shell Pistachios (extra work shelling nuts reduces mindless snacking), almonds, mixed nuts, add fruit for added boost of vitamins. Look for no sugar added dried fruits, apricots, raisins, cranberries, and lychee are all good choices for vitamin bonus. You can also add 1 ounce of extra dark chocolate for an indulgent snack.

  • Kale Chips

Allrecipes says: “Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.”

  • Apple Cookies

Taken from the recipe found at OneLittleProject blog: Take your favorite kind of apple. Core apple using an apple corer. Then slice the apple width-wise (side to side). Take of excess moisture with a paper towel. Spread your favorite all-natural nut butter spread on each slice. Top with chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and coconut flakes. Place in small tupperware container. Refrigerate. Enjoy!

 

  • Frozen Grapes

A semi-indulgent snack to curb a sugar craving. Bodybuilding.com says to freeze them on a foil-lined baking sheet and then store in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Red grapes are preferred because they have more antioxidants than green grapes.

  • 8 oz. Plain Skyr or Plain greek yogurt.

Siggi’s Skyr has 150 calories per 8 oz, Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt has 200 Calories per 8 oz. Keep in the fridge for a quick and satisfying yummy snack.

  • Green tea, Blueberry, and Banana Smoothie

Ingredients: 3 Tbsp water, 1 green tea bag, 2 tsp honey, 1½ c frozen blueberries, ½ med banana ¾ c calcium fortified light vanilla soy milk.  Prevention.com says: Microwave water on high until steaming hot in a small bowl. Add tea bag and allow to steep for about 3 minutes. Remove tea bag. Stir honey into tea until it dissolves. Combine tea, berries, banana, tea and milk in a blender and blend ingredients on ice crush or highest setting until smooth. (Some blenders may require additional water to process the mixture.) Pour smoothie into tall glass and serve. (269 cals, 2.5 g fat, 0.2 g sat fat, 52 mg sodium, 63 g carbs, 38.5 g sugars, 8 g fiber, 3.5 g protein)

  • Orange Dream Creamsicle Smoothie

Prevention.com says: Combine 1 peeled navel orange, ¼ c. fat-free half-and-half or fat-free yogurt, 2 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate, ¼ tsp vanilla extract, and 4 ice cubes in a food processor and blend until smooth. (160 cal, 3 g pro, 36 g carb, 3 g fiber, 28 g sugars, 1 g fat, 0.5 g sat fat, 60 mg sodium)

  • Oatmeal Raisin Energy Bites

From getcreativejuice.com: Ingredients: 1 cup rolled oats, ½ cup steel cut oats, ¼ cup ground flax seed, 1 cup raisins, 1 tsp cinnamon, dash nutmeg, dash salt, 2 tsp vanilla, 1½ Tbsp honey, ½ cup almond butter.  Instructions: Add dry ingredients into a bowl and mix to combine evenly.  Add the remaining vanilla, honey, and almond butter and mix to form a sticky dough.  If the dough is too sticky, add more rolled oats. If the dough is a bit too dry, add more almond butter to get just the right consistency.  Roll the mixture into 1 inch balls.  Enjoy! Keep in refrigerator and enjoy for up to a week!

 

  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Balls

 

From dailyburn.com: 2 scoops Vanilla Protein Powder, 1 cup almond meal, 1/2 cup nut butter (ie: almond butter), 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup dairy-free mini chocolate chips.  Preparation:  Place protein powder and almond meal in a medium-size bowl and mix.  Then, add in nut butter and maple syrup and mix again. At this point the batter should be just like cookie dough.  Finally, add in chocolate chip and mix one last time. Using a tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop out dough into your palms and roll into balls. Repeat.