My week 1 of meal prep was a success! When I don’t have my meals planned out for the week, prepped or not, I make bad food decisions. Doing meal prep is so helpful when wanting to stay on track with food goals for the week. Meal prep seemed a bit overwhelming at first but once I sat down and wrote my grocery list, I felt organized and ready to tackle it. Planning the week out with my schedule in mind helped me not waste prepped meals too.
This was actually my first time doing meal prep since I changed my lifestyle and began eating plant-based/vegan (read more about that here). Although this is dairy-free and meat-free, meat or dairy can be added to this easily. Or this prep can be used to help clean out your system for a week as well. Give your body a break from processing dairy and meat, it will feel so good!
Meal prep takes time, organization and patience. In totality it took about 1 hour to grocery shop (this includes stopping at a farm market) and about 2 hours to prep and cook everything. When planning out my meals for the week I take into consideration the fresh produce we have in the area. Nothing better than fresh, local produce! I will also taken into consideration my daily schedule. Usually once during the weekdays I like to go out to eat so I will take into account that well known pattern of mine.
Here is an outline of my successful Week 1 of Meal Prep:
NOTE: Click on the PINK text below to see the recipes and previous posts.
You will be cooking or preparing food for 4 to 5 days so food containers are essential. For my below recipes/items, I had 5 glass jars and 8 BPA-free meal containers plus sandwich bags. For dinner or hot meals, I prefer glass storage that is oven safe so I can easily heat my meals up. Make sure your containers are air-tight and have a lid. If you are a food container hoarder like me, throw away those containers with missing lids. Food containers will help make your refrigerator look like an organizational dream too!
When I have a grocery list and my meals planned out I actually like grocery shopping. I used to hate it! But I realized I hated it because I would wander around aimlessly down each aisle trying to put meals together. That is so frustrating! Problem solved, plan it out! It takes me about a hour to shop because most of the time I am going to two different grocery stores and then to the farm market to pick up fresh produce. But I’ve learned that I would much rather run around for a hour then go back and forth to the store every other day. Again, plan it out!
Prepping and Cooking
Put some music on or a good show and get to work! The first thing I start with is making sure all my containers are out and lined up, ready to be packed. Then getting my area set up with a large cutting board and a good knife makes the whole cutting process much quicker. Also get out all the cookware, if there is a pan I can use twice- winning!
I am not much of a breakfast eater. If I don’t have something quick to eat I will wait until lunch (or until I’m starving) and then usually eat way more than I should or eat something I shouldn’t. Having a quick breakfast to grab makes eating breakfast easy.
My breakfast choices:
This recipe is one of my favorites because of how easy it is! I will grab 5 glass jars and fill them with the dry ingredients (see recipe). Put a lid on it and place them in the refrigerator. I will fill 5 baggies with the blueberries and almonds placing this in the refrigerator too. The night before I will put the almond milk and maple syrup into the next days glass jar and it will be ready to enjoy in the morning. Sprinkle the blueberries and almonds on top. So easy!
After adding blueberries and almonds on top, enjoy!
2.) Smoothie Freezer Packs
For a mid-morning snack, I will grab one of the smoothie packs. I like to make 6 of these a week because they are placed in the freezer so they last longer. In a sandwich sized baggie I will add to my smoothie packs:
1/2 cup kale, 2 large strawberries, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/2 ripe banana.
Get all the air out of the baggies, seal it up and grab whenever you need a snack full of nutrients. When ready to blend, add 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and then almond milk (amount depends on the consistency wanted).
I always struggle with eating the wrong things for lunch. By wrong things, I mean the food that makes me really tired and gross feeling. I’ve found success by sticking with a light lunch.
My lunch choices:
Good thing about salads is that you can add pretty much anything on top. For this week, I prepared 3 containers of built-salads. I don’t like to prepare too many salad containers because the lettuce and vegetables get soggy. Keeping the lettuce, vegetables, beans and grains separate helps everything stay more fresh.
My salad this week consist of: power greens mix, cooked beets, carrots, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. I top it off with 2 tablespoons of quinoa. For the dressing: a light vegan ranch or a vinaigrette.
My all time favorite soup recipe! Salad can be boring to me so if I have something to pair it with I enjoy it much more. The soup is light and savory. Sprinkle tortilla chips on top and enjoy!
I am a fan of prepping breakfast and lunch but dinner can be tough. Dinner is tough because I actually enjoy cooking dinner on most nights but a few times a week I don’t have time. I will take my schedule and mood into consideration when planning out my dinner meal prep. Prepping 4 nights is more realistic for me because one night a week I will eat out. The other two nights I like to try different meals to cook.
My dinner choices:
I love any meal that can be placed in a bowl especially this stir fry recipe. I will make sure to eat this dinner first because too many days in the refrigerator it starts to get mushy. Also this is not a good dish to place in the freezer. But eat it within a couple days of making it and it is a perfect summer stir fry that you can just heat up and enjoy!
2.) Fajita Bowl
This recipe is perfect to place in the freezer. Sautée the peppers and onions in the fajita seasoning. Add in other vegetables if desired. I added in sweet potatoes this time. Let it cool, divide into meal portions and place them into freezer bags. When you are ready to eat, place contents of freezer bag into a oven safe container, add in desired amount of black beans and put into the oven. It will be ready in 15-20 minutes (check temperature). Serve over dirty rice (or regular rice) and quinoa (1/4 cup).
Snack ideas are endless!
My snack choices:
I always have chips and salsa fully stocked. Also I like to pick up whatever fruit is in-season to snack on throughout the day. Hummus and pretzels or veggies are another great, easy to grab snack.
Items I always have on hand:
Avocado- I like to top my salads, bowls and soup with a few slices of avocado.
Garbanzo beans- add a scoop of garbanzo beans to salads or bowls of soups for extra protein.
Quinoa- add a scoop to salads or bowls. This is a great addition and loads of protein!
Almonds/Nuts- I like to have a variety of nuts on hand to add to dishes or to snack on throughout the day.
Chips and Salsa- my favorite snack so I always have to have it fully stocked.
Fruit- I will pick up whatever fruit is in-season and grab it whenever I’m craving something sweet.
Lara Bars- a great vegan bar that you can just throw in your purse and go. I put my Lara Bars in the refrigerator because I like that it makes them a little harder.
Hot Sauce- preferably Sriracha. Add it to anything for a little kick!
I wish I would have jumped on the meal prep bandwagon a long time ago! I saved so much money and time! I know I won’t be able to do meal prep every week because, well…life! But it is something I am adding to my lifestyle going forward. Breakfast and lunch is so much easier prepped and on the run is always the time I make the worst choices. Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep is what I will be telling myself every time I need to go to the grocery store.