Sunday, January 12, 2014

Weekly Meal Prep 101

A few months ago, I wrote a post about my weekly meal prep. The post has been quite popular and is still getting re-pins. I have also received several emails from “quiet” readers about the post as well as my meal prep pics on Instagram and my Facebook page. Here is an old meal prep photo:

Meal Prep 1027

I thought I’d write a follow up post to show you how I turn all the food I prep into lunches and dinners throughout the week.

In a typical week, I prep the following:
  • A large pot of soup – our current favorites are curried carrot soup, lentil soup, roasted butternut squash soup, and potato/leek soup.
  • A protein – usually either ground grass-fed beef or ground turkey sautéed with vegetables.
  • Roasted veggies – There are always veggies to roast in our CSA box, and I also pick up veggies to roast at the Farmers Market each week. I simply clean the veggies and cut them into bite sized pieces and then roast them at 375 degrees for about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the veggie. Our favorites are Brussels sprouts, asparagus, beets, green beans, and sweet potatoes.
  • Legumes: I try to cook beans from scratch most weeks. I usually cook beans in the slow cooker. I wash and sort the beans (to removed small stones, etc.) and then soak them overnight. Then I use 2.5 times the amount of water to dried beans (in cups), a chopped onion, 1 teaspoon salt and Tabasco each and spices (1/2 teaspoon each pepper, cardamom, turmeric, red curry, cumin, etc.) and cook everything on high for 4.5 hours.
  • Sautéed veggies – I usually make a quick stir fry with bok choy and other veggies. Lately, we also enjoy sautéed mushrooms a lot.
  • Spaghetti squash – When spaghetti squash is in season, I make one pretty much every week.
  • A grain – usually quinoa, brown rice, or black rice. I don’t eat any gluten-containing grains, and we don’t eat a lot of grains, certainly not with every meal, and often not every day. However, I often add some rice or quinoa to my soup to bulk it up a bit. If I don’t add a grain, I usually add a grass-fed beef sausage.
  • Fruit – I also make fruit cups with fruit that’s available at the Farmers’ Market. For the last months, we have been eating a lot of persimmons, but the season is now over. Right now, we still get awesome grapes.
  • Veggie bags – I try to mix it up a bit every week. Possibilities are carrots, celery, bell pepper, jicama, cucumber, radishes, cherry tomatoes….
And this is how I turn all the prepped food into lunches and dinners throughout the week. Here is an example from last week:

Lunches:
  • Salad with roasted veggies & sautéed ground turkey with mushrooms (x 2)
  • Lentil soup with grass-fed beef sausage
  • Spaghetti squash/asparagus/turkey bowl – I assemble everything in a glass container with a lid and season it with a little Tabasco (x 2)
Dinners:
  • Gluten-free and grain-free homemade mushroom pizza with roasted asparagus and green beans on the side. The pizza crust was from the Against All Grain cookbook .
  • Grilled mahi mahi with roasted asparagus & green beans
  • Rice and beans with sautéed mushrooms on the side
  • Quesadillas filled with ground turkey and sautéed mushroom
  • Lentil soup and a salad
I have planned meals for years, but since I am pre-cooking a lot on Sundays, life is a lot less stressful. There is always something to eat in the fridge, which is great when everyone comes home starving. Also, a cup of soup or some veggies with turkey make a great, healthy mini meal or snack.

Finally, we went on a beautiful nature hike on Saturday. If you follow me on Instagram or like my Facebook page, you’ve probably already seen it. Since Andy and I also went on a neighborhood walk in the morning, we walked over 20,000 steps.

Nature Hike

Questions: Do you plan your weekly meals? Do you precook food on the weekend (or on another day)? What was the highlight of your weekend? 

Be well,
Andrea

37 comments:

  1. Hi Andrea, I think that is the same post that people liked on Facebook too. Thank you so much for these types of posts. I'm working on trying to learn how to eat and prep food more like you describe above. There is a bit of difference in our households in that other people in my family eat entirely different things and often do not want me to cook for them. But I really am striving to work on this. :D

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    1. It's definitely harder when people eat different things, but you can always focus on prepping your own food, so at least you have plenty of healthy options to choose from.

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  2. Plan meals? Yes-regularly! Prep food on the weekend? Rarely, but you are inspiring me to be better :-) Great post Andrea, and as always I am so impressed with all the steps you are getting in each day! I do think I managed 69,000 steps last week-just 1000k shy of my 70,000. Will try and step it up this week!

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    1. Prepping makes life so much easier... :)

      Getting 70,000 steps a week isn't easy and takes real planning and focus, so 69,000 is great! :)

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  3. Definitely a planner here! You do an amazing job of feeding your family healthy, whole foods Andrea!

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    1. Thanks, Diane! I admire you for how well you feed your large family!

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  4. I'm not surprised your meal prep post gets so many re-pins. It's such a great idea, and saves so much time (and is healthier, of course). I'm always looking for new ideas on what to do with the "puzzle pieces" of weekly meals, and your posts are always an inspiration! :)

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  5. Loved this post Andrea! I know people think that meal planning is hard, but when you break it down like you did - hopefully people can see that planning is not only key, but very doable!

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    1. Thanks, Biz! And, yes, meal planning and prep can seem overwhelming but once you break it down, it's quite simple.

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  6. Love food prep posts - so helpful!!!! I am very boring in terms of my food & cooking but I do cook ahead but all very basic but it works for me! :)

    I love your IG family pics!!! Where do you live? As beautiful!

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    1. Thanks, Jody! Nothing wrong with basic food! And it clearly works for you!

      We live in the South Bay (Bay Area).

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  7. What a great informative post! When I was cooking for a family of 4 I meal planned every week and posted it on the fridge. It saved time and money since I bought only the ingredients for the recipes on the menu. It worked well. Since we are now empty nesters I seem to do more batch cooking, large pot of soup, veggie burgers, fruit salad once a week and then fill in where needed. It takes us so much longer to eat up the leftovers with just two of us.

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  8. Everytime when I see your week meals plan I am amazed, and I keep telling myself that I really should start doing some planning...you are sure an inspiration Andrea.
    Have a great week :D

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  9. Some GREAT ideas, Andrea! Thanks!

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  10. Looking good! I need to get back into the habit of doing this. I slacked off the last few months....

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    1. I wasn't good about doing this in December either... :)

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  11. Ok, I just started to leave a comment and I'm not sure it went through. Sorry if this is a double!
    I am really impressed with both your meal planning and 20,000 steps! So far I am proud when I go over 10 :)

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    1. Sorry about the commenting issues...

      I think I got 20,000 steps only twice in a year! :)

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  12. Asparagus, Spaghetti Squash, Turkey Bowl??? SIGN ME UP PLEASE! :D

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    1. I'm always glad (and feel great!) when I eat clean, Gigi-approved foods! :)

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  13. Great post! I followed a link from Biz's page. I am a big fan of meal planning. It changes over the years from daily, monthly, weekly, bi-weekly, winging it...Now that I'm back to working full time and had a second child (who is 18 months - so at the age where it's very hard to cook after work), I am doing a LOT more "weekend prep".

    I also like to cook a big pot of beans (I turn into burritos for the freezer) and soup. And I prep my CSA veggies too. I'm a little out of practice because last week we were all (well except the second grader) suffering from the stomach flu. Hope to get back into it this weekend.

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    1. Yes, prep makes such a difference, especially with little kids!

      Sorry you guys had the stomach flu. We all had it a few weeks ago, and it was awful.

      Hope you'll have a nice, healthy, & productive weekend! :)

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  14. Love how organized you are!!

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  15. Hi Andrea, I remember watching Star Wars with my teen son when he was about your son's age. I remember when he was 4 years old, I asked him what his favorite song was. I expected it to be something like "Happy Birthday to You." But he surprised me by humming "The Imperial March" as his favorite song! And he hummed the entire song accurately! To this day, he's always like fairly classical music like Schubert's Ave Maria, which is currently his favorite song.

    I have several more Star Wars yoga images on my Pinterest page. I might be immature, but I really like them too!!!! It makes yoga fun!

    I have no idea if the at-home Barre workout video is anything like a barre class, but I am finding it to be very different than either my yoga workout or my weightlifting workout--so that is very fun for me! And refreshing to have a whole new set of exercises. I'm very excited about that.

    My Pinterest healthy food board is heavily influenced by your blog. Thanks so much for that. You have taught me a lot. I like cooking so much more since I've found healthy basic food that I like to cook--from your blog. It is getting more and more fun to make healthy food, as I come to see the light. :D

    Some of this is what I commented to you on my blog, and some not. But I wanted you to get this comment--because you make me smile!

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  16. Your weekly meal prep post was very useful, and it deserves some attention! We plan our weekly plans sometimes using whatever local ingredients we have. Sometimes, if we don’t have a rice cooker present in an international kitchen, we would cook grains on another day. Wishing you a fabulous weekend! x Rika

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    1. Thanks, Rika! I'm always impressed with how little cooking equipment you make do and with what amazing dishes you come up!

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  17. I thought I replied already but maybe it got lost? I'm in awe of your meal planning. I know how great it is to do but I just can't seem to make myself do it!

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    1. As long as it works for you... :) I plan and prep a lot less in the summer and actually enjoy the break from all the rigidity a bit then...

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