The thought of prepping meals for the week can seem like a daunting task (especially as an In Demand Woman!) and you immediately put the notion of crafting savory eats out of your mind. We want to tell you, there’s nothing to feel overwhelmed about, it simply takes creativity and practice. Think about how you go about strategizing your life and work schedule. The same process applies toward prepped meals. Now let’s get your journey started to a healthier and happier you.
BE MORE CONSCIOUS OF HEALTHIER EATING HABITS
When opting for purchased, ready-made meals, we don’t exactly know the preparation that’s been taken with the food. Ultimately you could be filling up on excessive amounts of saturated fats and sodium. This is your opportunity to take back control of your eating habits, relearn how to portion control and most importantly, learn how to read label ingredients.
CREATE QUALITY TIME WITH LOVED ONES & FREE UP YOUR SCHEDULE
Game planning your meals doesn’t have to be a difficult process. If you have a roommate or partner in your life it’s a great way to connect and catch up on your week and future plans. For example, you can take 5-10 minutes inventory at the end of the week and create a shopping list of categories (fruits, vegetables, grains, meats). Pick a day that works for you both and try to stick with it. If you have more than one grocery location to choose from, keep note of their weekly price changes and sales. It never hurts to save a little extra! Now it’s time to take your list of items to the store. You can also use an app such as Grocery IQ to keep track of what items you need as you use them up during the week. Once you have all your items, food preparation for the entire week shouldn’t take more than an hour to an hour and a half.
Work Week Meal Prep Strategy
BREAKFAST: If you are a breakfast eater, there are lots of simple, sustainable & fun options that will keep you fueled as you start your day. Here are some recommendations we really like.
Shakes: This is a great way to start the day! Some go-to ingredients include: (2 scoops) of Non GMO Garden of Life (Proteins+Greens) vanilla protein, (2 cups) So Delicious coconut milk, (1 cup) of water, (2) bananas and other choice fruits and vegetables blended up. You can also use flaxseed, peanut butter powder, or another source of protein powder of your choice. This will yield approximately 2-4 servings depending on how much you drink. You can prep the shake in large thermos the night before so it is ready to go the next morning. Store in the refrigerator up to two days.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Oatmeal: Buy a container of Quaker Oats. Keep it at the office if you don’t have time to eat at home. Add fresh fruit or dried cranberries and mix with honey or agave. Microwave ingredients together.
Prep Time: 5 min.
Yogurt Parfait: Choose your favorite yogurt in a container combined with honey or agave, fruits and granola between layers. Store in the fridge up to 3 days.
Prep Time: 10 min.
LUNCH: Create lunches that are not only tasty but easy to travel with. Select containers that seal with clamps to protect your bag from leaking. These meals are prepped over the weekend to accommodate for 4 days to refrigerate. One way to mix it up might be to choose one day per week that you treat yourself out to lunch. This gives you an opportunity to try new foods and have something to look forward to!
Chicken Breast: Season with a simple blend of virgin olive oil, lemon pepper and salt-free Mrs. Dash. If you have sun dried tomato and fresh herbs chop them up and add as well! Distribute the pieces on a metal baking tray covered with aluminum foil. Cover with another piece of foil.
If you’re looking to cook this in the shortest amount of time, set your oven to bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes. The last 10 minutes take the foil off to crisp. Another option is to use a table top grill such as the Griddler Gourmet by Cuisinart.
Prep: 10 min. | Cook Time: 45 min.
Chicken Burgers: They’re compact, tasty and a healthy alternative! Here’s a great recipe to try.
Prep: 15 min. | Cook Time: 45 min.
Sweet Potato, Yams, Baby Potatoes: You will need 4-6 medium to large size depending on how hungry you think you will be for the week. A hearty handful is our general rule to what is a good serving size. Peel your yams but keep your potato skins. Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Add your favorite seasonings, add olive oil and bake at 350ºF.
Prep: 10 min. & Cook Time: 1 hour
Fresh Vegetables: If you don’t like to cut your veggies, get them pre-packaged & rinse. About a handful per person is a sufficient serving. Bake at 350ºF until crispy with olive oil, paprika, salt & pepper.
Prep: 10 min | Cook Time: 30-40 min.
DINNER: If you do not own a crock-pot, it would be a great kitchen appliance to invest in! This is the holy grail of creating wholesome meals. The idea to “crocking” is to DICE, SEASON and DROP it in the pot. This method allows you to go about your day while your stew slowly cooks to perfection. This is also a great lunch option alternative.
Chicken Breast, Cube Cut Beef, Boneless Pork Chop Stews: You can utilize this seasoning method for any meat option of your choice! Season with: (1) can peeled whole tomatoes, Adobo All-Purpose or Goya Sazón options, Worcestershire sauce, (2-3) medium size potatoes, onions or scallions. Add peppers, celery, mushrooms, carrots and (1) can of beans if you like. Let everything simmer for about 5 hours on low heat.
After 2 hours, add (1-2) tablespoons of Argo corn starch mixed with a cup of water and pour into pot to thicken the gravy. The longer you leave it in the pot, the better it will turn out. Eat alone, serve with pasta or whole grain rice. This pot of stew will last you 1 week & can refrigerate for the same amount of time.
Prep Time: 25 min.
Breaded Chicken Cutlets: One of the most diverse meals you can create. Begin by pouring (1-2) cups of bread crumbs or panko in a bowl and season with Mrs. Dash options. Next drizzle olive oil over (6-12) slices of chicken breast and season to taste. Use those fresh herbs (such as basil, parsley, cilantro, etc.) if you have them handy! Dip each breast into the bread crumbs on both sides then place in a metal baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake at 350ºF for 45 min to 1 hour. Remove top foil the last 10 minutes to brown and crisp. Now that you have a weeks’ worth of cutlets you can get creative! Have them with pasta, add tomato sauce and slices of Go Veggie cheese alternative, for example. Or, keep it light with a side of mixed greens and and balsamic vinegar. This batch of cutlets can refrigerate for a week.
Prep: 10 min. | Cook Time: 1 hour.
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’VE REACHED THE END OF THE WEEK!
If you have any leftovers get creative with something tasty that’s part of your fridge staples. Don’t feel like it? Then use this day to treat yourself with a meal out since you have prepared so many healthy, simple and sustainable meals at home this week! HAPPY EATING!
Vanessa Diaz is a brand consultant and Founder/Marketing Director for RAW Creative, specializing in curating robust activations within the beauty, entertainment, retail, sports & lifestyle space. For over 10 years as an Experiential Architect, Vanessa has curated 360° integrated activations with such companies as Bai 5, Barneys, Live Nation, Universal Music and Red Bull. She previously was a Brand Strategy adviser for Cliff Bar and worked for Viacom within the Music & Media division for VH1 Networks. A native of New York, Vanessa attended St. John’s University and received her Bachelor of Science, with a major in Media Communications and Journalism. As a wellness enthusiast, she enjoys cooking wholesome meals with her family, fitness training and taking time out to enjoy summer days at the beach.
You can connect with Vanessa here: