Monday, January 16, 2017

The Value of Meal Prep

Last month was crazy and I took several shortcuts with my nutrition.  I realized where it all fell apart.  I failed to plan out my meals for the week and "played it by ear."  This meant I was either eating nothing and starving or I was eating stuff I shouldn't eat...or too much of it.

When the moment of truth came and I got on the scale after New Year's, I knew what had gone wrong.  It wasn't just the overeating at the holidays, it was a cumulation of poor choices and a lack of planning.

I made conscious choice / effort to go back to basics.  Nutrition 101:  Eat smart.  Count all of my calories and macros.  Have healthy choices for food on hand.  Make sure I eat when I'm hungry.  Cut out all the crap.

In one week I lost 5 lbs.  Week two, I've seen zero movement on the scale, but I'm okay with that because I know my nutrition has been spot on and I've been killing it at the gym.
Go Patriots!
I think I'm going to make a better effort to drink more water.  I always neglect that and I feel the difference when I drink enough water.  (The first week of January, I had the flu, so I was drinking lots of liquids.)
Took a trip to Worcester yesterday because my son is sick.  I figure he probably got it from me, so I brought him what I needed to survive when I was sick.
So, what is all the talk about meal prep?

Meal prep helps you to plan out your food for the week with controlled portions.  It means getting up in the morning and having everything that you need all ready.

The trouble with meal prep for me is that typically you eat the same foods every day for the week.  And that can grow really old, really fast.

I fell in love with egg whites last summer when I tried a new nutritional program.  I saw how much protein is in the whites, without the fat and calories.  So I started making scrambled eggs or frittatas (omelets) with one egg and 1/2 cup egg whites.  Add some vegetables and BAM! there's breakfast, or lunch, or even dinner with lots of protein, very little fat and super easy to make.

Right before New Year's I bought broccoli florets at Costco.  A giant bag for like $5.  How can you go wrong?  Steamed broccoli, raw broccoli, roasted broccoli for days.

Yeah, so about that.

For the first two weeks in January, when doing meal prep, I made egg frittatas for breakfast (with steamed broccoli florets).
Every day.  Steamed. Broccoli.
Pretty much this was breakfast every day, but broccoli instead and no cheese.  
And in my lunch?  Chopped broccoli.

And for dinner?  At least twice we had roasted broccoli.

On Thursday, I couldn't take it anymore.  Instead, I ate cereal and brought chili for lunch.

Friday I fed the frittata to the dog. 

I don't think I can ever eat broccoli again.

So, I realize that meal PLANNING is more beneficial for me than meal prep.  I have typically prepped my meals for the next day the night before.  But I was taking shortcuts in December and that wasn't working for me.  So, it's back to basics.

This weekend, I made a pot of vegetable soup.  As long as I don't have that all the time, I really like this.  It's super easy to make.  Add some protein and it's a complete meal.
I add a couple TBSP grated Parmesan cheese.  Delicious!
Saute some onions, garlic and chopped carrots with just a little cooking spray.  
When the onions because translucent or start to brown, add 32 oz. chicken stock.  
While that is cooking, chop up some cabbage, or kale, if you prefer.  
Chop up some green beans, or add a box of frozen cut green beans.  
Cook until the cabbage is tender. 
Then add some zucchini, cut into small bite-sized pieces.  
Add more chicken stock (as much as you need, depending on how many vegetables you are cooking), salt, pepper and seasonings to taste.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., I don't have to work today.
This quote is not one of his more well known quotes, but it still rings true.
Knowing I have to change things up, but at the same time, I need to be prepared for my week, I took advantage of the morning and went to town.

Meal Prep for days...
I started with breakfast...
My cousin Jamie get me into these.  Super healthy AND taste good too!
Had some for breakfast with sugar free syrup.
Then I made these Kodiak cake carrot breads.  So yummy!
Then lunch...
Tomorrow I'll have this tuna wrap.  (I can only handle tuna one day at a time.)
Remove the lettuce and it's no longer salad.  I can eat tomatoes and cucumbers like they are going out of style.  (I do need some more containers though.)  
I mix 1/2 cup of the low fat cottage cheese with 1/2 cup cottage cheese with chives.  210 calories, 5.5 g fat and 28 g protein.  Add veggies and viola!  I'll probably eat this 1-2 days this week.
Dinner in the crockpot... (This is today's dinner and probably lunch for 1-2 days this week.)
1 lb. ground turkey, browned with 2 small yellow onions
3 large carrots. peeled and chopped
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (or chopped)
1 14 oz. can chicken broth (low fat/sodium)
chopped garlic
1 1/2 C lentils (dry)
Seasonings:  salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and curry to taste
Cook in the crockpot until carrots are soft and lentils are fully cooked.
Don't forget the snacks...
I pre-measure the granola into 1/2 serving sizes.  It's perfect for my Greek yogurt.
Now that I'm done, I'm ready for the rest of my day.  I'm thinking about taking the dog for a walk.  I'll hit the gym after I bring my son to work. 
Day off = pajama day
Pajama days make me happy!
(What IS that thing on my chin?)
If I take her for a walk, I have to disturb her...
Why I do Meal Prep:

1.  I eat the right foods and can control my portions.
2.  I don't have to stress about what to eat from one meal to the next.
3.  I don't go hungry.  When I am hungry, I have healthy snack options to eat.
4.  If I'm not stressed, I can enjoy the week.

How I do it:

I make a mental list on Saturday night or Sunday of what I want to eat.  Then I go shopping for the ingredients I need for my meals.  I make sure I have plenty of produce on hand.  I'll make a pot of soup or chili and set it aside for the week.  I package up snacks.   It works better for me to make my breakfast / lunches the night before.  That's why I have some variety this week, so I don't repeat what happened with the broccoli.

It is worth the time and effort.  More importantly, my body shows the results.  It's a habit that promotes healthy living.  I can't afford shortcuts.

Questions for you: (answer in the comment section below)
Food prep?  Meal Planning?  Meal Prep?  Yes or no?  What does it look like for you?

Are you up to speed on my series on wellness?  Check it out!
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Worthwhile or Gimmick?
Three Years, Really?
No Time to Stretch!
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