A Day of Prep for a Stress-less Week

Today is Sunday.  Tomorrow a new week of work begins, and so today, although it’s beautiful outside, I’ve chosen to stay in and clean, do laundry, and prepare what my husband and I are going to eat for the week.  If I don’t spend at least one day on the weekend doing this, the week will be disastrous.

Anyway, right now, I’m planning our meals for the week.  I consider my ability to do this only partially adequate, but I’ll take that over being completely unprepared and unsure of what to eat come tomorrow morning.  I’m out of the house for a guaranteed 12 hours a day for work, so it doesn’t leave much time for cleaning and cooking on weeknights.  Also, my husband and I are trying to eat healthy.  I’ve been working out a lot more (at least 4-6 days a week now), and I’m not seeing the scale go down (although I would like it to).  So, I’m trying to plan healthier meals.  I’ve created a list of some essential items that I need to pick up to cover breakfasts and lunches for about 5 days, and at least 2-3 nights of dinners.    Here is my list in the order that I pick things up in the grocery store:

Fruit – probably peaches and maybe some plums (for snacking on)
Bananas, Lettuce, Garlic, Cucumber (2-3), Peppers (2-3), 1 yellow onion, baby carrots (for snacking on), 1 lb. ground chicken, 4 cups low sodium chicken stock, 1 can (14-16oz) white kidney beans, 1 can (7oz) roasted green chilis, Yogurt, Eggs, and Whole Milk.
Other things that I will probably need but already have include: quinoa, maple syrup, peanut butter, cashews, coffee (k-cups), feta, shelled edamame, and brown rice.
Here’s the plan, in terms of prep:
I’m going to hard boil 8-10 eggs so that my husband and I can grab these throughout the week for either breakfast or to supplement other meals or snacks.  I can always make some more of these later in the week if we run out.  Then, I’m going to make some quinoa breakfast bars, which are awesome!  I found the recipe for these here:
I like to use maple syrup and bananas in my version and I don’t always add dried fruit because it is a weakness of mine and I end up eating half the bag as I’m making these.  (This week I opted not to buy any dried fruit).  Also, I double the recipe lately because my husband and I can go through these in just three days, but it will last for the whole week for both of us when doubled.  These are so good and very filling!  After that, I’m going to cook what should last as dinner for tonight, tomorrow night and maybe even Tuesday night.  I know, it could get boring, but who has time to cook a new meal every night?  I don’t.  I’m planning on making Chicken-White Bean Chili from the Cook this Not That book.  However, I found the original recipe a little bland so I’ve doctored it to include more of a kick.  We like spice.  Here is my version, which can be doubled for a bigger family:
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 lb Ground Chicken
  • 1 can (7oz) green chilies
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 can (14-16 oz) of white kidney beans
  • 1 Jalapeno pepper (chopped)
  • Sprinkle in: chili powder, garlic powder, more cumin and more cayenne to taste
The recipe is simple.  You heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes.  Then add the ground chicken, chiles, jalapeno pepper, and seasoning.  Saute until the chicken is mostly cooked through, then add the chicken stock and beans and turn the heat to low.  Let this simmer for at least 20 minutes and add additional seasoning to taste.   And that’s it!  I usually serve this over brown rice.   I love one pot meals because there is less clean-up, it’s super easy, and it usually makes a lot of food.  You can even freeze this if you don’t want it for three nights straight.  But, if you have a big family, one pot meals are also great.  I will literally just cover the pot with foil and stick it in the fridge when I’m done.
My husband is off on Wednesday and Thursday so I was figuring I’d send him to the grocery store to pick up some steak to grill and pair that with some frozen veggies that we already have.  That will probably only get us through one or two more meals so after that, we may just order take-out one night – but something healthy of course!
For lunches during the week, I usually cut up peppers, cucumbers and then create “mason jar” salads to take to work.  Instead of mason jars, I actually use BPA-free plastic tall cylindrical containers, which are much lighter than glass mason jars and serve the exact same purpose.  I.e. the dressing goes on the bottom, and then you layer items from heavy to light and you’re good to go.  When you are ready to eat, you just shake it up and your lettuce isn’t soggy!   My salads usually consist of lettuce, pepper, cucumber, edamame, feta, and quinoa.  Sometimes I add hard boiled eggs, avocado, and/or fresh sliced turkey.  For dressing I just mix lemon juice and olive oil.  I try to keep it pretty clean and simple.  My husband tends not to take salads with him, but the offer is always on the table for him.   We have yet to nail down the perfect lunch for him to take to work.  He’s a police officer so it’s not always easy for him to just bring, store, and eat his lunch.   However, that’s one reason the breakfast bars and hard boiled eggs are so great.  They are easily transportable and relatively easy to eat on-the-go.
I’m definitely a believer of things in moderation.  I do not, however, believe that everything in moderation works.  For example – soda.  There is absolutely no legitimate reason to have soda.  It’s basically carbonated sugar and chemicals.  There are zero health benefits to consuming that.  Candy – I love candy, but there is absolutely no nutritional value in candy!  Swedish fish is actually my favorite candy.  But, I do not believe that any amount of swedish fish in moderation can ever be good for me.  Does it make me happy momentarily because I love the taste?  Sure. But when I think about what’s actually in it and that I’ve just put it into my body, I feel pretty terrible.  So, I don’t see a need for it, even for that slight moment of happiness just to taste it.  I don’t think it’s worth it if it serves zero nutritional value.  Plus, for those who do not consume such things in moderation, the health consequences can be devastating.  Consuming large amounts of sugar can cause obesity, diabetes, liver disease, the list goes on.  Why bother risking it?   However, I digress.  Bread.  My husband and I love bread.  We love all kinds of bread and pasta, but we do seem to lack a bit of self-control when it comes to aiming for moderation.  Therefore, it’s easier to consume bread and pasta in moderation when most of our meals do not consist of it.  If we can plan meals without bread and pasta, consuming it a little here and there won’t be so bad for us.  That’s my goal in creating healthy and simple meals to carry us through the week.  In a nutshell, it involves cutting out sugar and eating real food such as fruits, veggies, meats, fish, dairy and whole grains in moderation.  And now it’s time to prep!
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