Monday, July 1, 2013

Meal Prep Week #1 - First Time for Anything!

Soooo...I keep starting out this post in different ways...i keep wanting to rewind back to January 2012. And this is, in fact, my own blog - so that is precisely what I shall do (even though this is gunna be long - you have been warned) I had been feeling really down - I don't want to say depressed because I don't think it was that serious, but my moods were low (for me - i am that annoying super extrovert/super optimistic type person usually) and my energy levels were low, and i was super anxious ALL the time - about my kids, my finances anything...and everything.

Around that time I decided we needed to budget (for the FIRST time in our marriage ever). I just want to pause here. I am NOT a planner. I am a fly by the seat of my pants and go where the wind takes me and explore everywhere type of person. So the thought of schedules or budgets or plans is super unsexy to me. But we continued to over-spend and it was stressing me out and so I started to budget then. (This year we started the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University way of budgeting with cash and it has been so great so far. Last year we tried a modified version of it and it didn't work for us. But that is another post - this is about clean eating!!)

So around this time of feeling down and out of control and budgeting, etc - I found a way to fit the cost of a gym membership into our monthly budget. Bryan started going in the mornings and I would get all the kids fed, dressed and ready for school/day etc - and then around dinnertime or after dinner I would go work out and Bryan would put the kids to bed. This continues to work (amazing) for us. I am super motivated to go to the gym because putting my boys to bed can be stressful for me. Working out for an hour- an hour and a half exerts less energy and relieves stress than putting my children to bed. Is that sad? It sounds sad when I type it, but its truth. Also - I usually work out 3-4 times a week, so I am still putting them to bed half the week. Anyway - the gym REALLY changed my moods. Sweating is like a miracle drug, I swear. I am usually 93% nicer after I sweat. And I feel good about myself - even if i show up at the gym and walk on the treadmill and watch trashy TV - I am still proud of myself for going.

Around that same time I heard about the My Fitness Pal app for your phone to track your calories. I started this around March of last year. And I did it because I couldn't tell you how many calories were in all - never paid attention - never cared. I was SHOCKED to see how much I was eating, and how a little forethought goes a long way into your diet.

With the help of the Fitness Pal app and working out, etc - I managed to get back to my pre-Bobby weight (I have almost given up my pre-Bryson weight). My moods were so much better - I felt in control of my eating and my finances and when I feel in control of a few things, I feel more able to handle ALL that in my life that is so out of control.

So then I broke my ankle this Feb and it kind of messed me up. I couldn't prepare my own meals and I couldn't exercise, and it was hard to stand to and cook, so I started unhealthily snacking (and gained back 8 pounds womp womp).

When I broke my ankle Bryan started meal prepping all the veggies after his CostCo run by blanching them and saving them in tupperware. It really cut down on cooking time and there were always veggies available for immediate snacking - it was awesome. So we started looking into meal prepping more. After following Bryan's cousin Dustin - who has lost over 100 pounds through the last couple years by training super hard and meal prepping - Bryan and I got inspired. We started by just browsing Instragram hashtags like #mealprepmondays and #mealprepsundays and #eatcleantogetlean. We had an open day on Sunday this week so we decided to get started and this is what we did to make 10 meals (either lunch or dinner depending on our schedules) for the week.

1. Grilled 10 Chicken Breasts (We had extra chicken too that we can use for dinner this week - $25 at Costco - Dinner #1 )
2. Cooked 3 1/2 cups Quinoa (Used 1/2 cup in each meal and froze the leftovers in ziploc bags to be used in meals later)
3. Blanched a Costco size bag of Asparagus (We cut off the ends and middles to make Asparagus soup as well - Dinner #2)
4.  Hardboiled 12 eggs (Didn't put this in the lunches, but we will use them for snacks and lunches)
5. Roasted 6 beets (Put 1/4 cup in each lunch)
6. Made Kale Chips (1/4 cup in each lunch as a snack) - our kale was dying since we were both gone this weekend, so it was perfect to make into chips!

I realize this is a lot and Bryan helped by grilling the chicken...if it were just me doing it I would probably roast the chicken and steam a bunch of veggies and call it a week. But also - it is just a few hours of work that will last you the entire week! I dont have to wash a single pan for my lunches all week! And I don't have to think about what to cook for myself all week! That saves on precious brain space...let me tell you.

Not only does this really help with budgeting (since you are less tempted to eat out and by buying in bulk you save) it also helps with my eating habits. Lunch is my worst meal usually calorie speaking - that is where i just eat out if I in the office (partly to get out of the house and partly because I love lunch).

I know it will be a struggle to do this every week, but our goal is to do it at least 2 weeks a month. And it helps you thinking about meal planning throughout the week. For example - this week for dinner I planned to make a turkey meatloaf (cooked in a muffin pan so it is portioned) and I will just make 2 batches instead of one and save the other batch for lunches the following week. Things like that.

Also - I think it would be a better idea to have 2 different recipes you are switching up so you aren't completely over it by Friday, but we had so much stuff to use in our pantry/fridge that it worked out for us this week this way.

I hope this is inspiring! I hope its not i said, we got into this little by little - first with just blanching the veggies for meals, then prepping. But the more you see what other people are doing to get healthy and eat clean, the more you say to yourself "I can do this too!!!" - so go do it!!!

Pinterest Meal Prep Idea Boards: Click Here
Blanching Time Table: Click Here
Helpful Tips - Meal Prep 101: Click Here
Roasted Beet Arugula Salad Recipe: Click Here
Turkey Meatloaf Muffins: Click Here

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