Welcome to THIS WEEK'S MEAL PREP. Today we're going to look at what I'm eating, what I'm preparing, and the shopping list I used to make it all happen.
My goal with this post is to help you discover the life-changing magic of FOOD PREP (thank you Marie Kondo for the perfect tagline :wink:)
The key to success when eating a whole-food, nutrient-dense diet is MEAL PLANNING and MEAL PREP. However, I understand that days can get away from us, and we all have super busy lives. That is why I want to share my meal prep successes with YOU, so that you can easily follow my lead and prepare healthy, wholesome meals for you and your family in just a few hours.
Remember, a few hours' prep once a week can really set you up for success throughout the rest of the week.
Ready? Here we go!
PHASE 1: PLANNING
My husband and I typically alternate between having some version of bacon and eggs or a smoothie for breakfast. I try to get 3-4 green smoothies into my system per week, and breakfast is a really easy time for me to do that, although sometimes I will have the smoothie for a lunch or pre-lunch snack if that works better for my schedule.
- LUNCH & DINNER -
I typically plan to make enough food to have about 4 dishes and a couple of "snack" ideas for the week. These can be eaten as either lunches or dinners (and sometimes breakfast when I'm too lazy to make my smoothie or other meals)
- GENERAL -
I begin by looking in my fridge and pantry and thinking about what items I have in stock that I could "supplement" to create tasty meals. Then I sift through my recipe archive and determine which meals I can make quickly.
HINT: it is super helpful to have a few crockpot meals up your sleeve for really busy days!
HINT 2: Cook proteins in BULK. This will save you lots of time during the week since you'll only have to reheat items rather than cook them through. (This is the best tip ever, trust me)
PHASE 2: MEAL SELECTIONS & menu
This week (Monday, June 26th through Friday, June 30th)
- Green smoothies
- Egg salad (I made a double batch this week)
- Crockpot Curry with rice (or riced cauliflower for a grain-free option. I made a double batch this week)
- Coconut Cream Drops (from Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf)
- Leftover hotdogs from the weekend
Now that we have the meals selected, the Menu portion is easy: I don't usually have a "set" menu. I typically just give myself enough options with these foods to mix-and-match my way through the week. You can use the same base recipes to create LOTS of variety in your weekly meals!
Here are a few of my favorite Menu examples:
- Serve over a bed of greens and add in anything else you like (such as chopped nuts/seeds, olives, or fresh herbs)
- Eat along side the coleslaw for a nice crunchy treat
- Eat with salsa and organic blue corn chips or Siete grain-free tortilla chips
- Eat as a sandwich on sprouted bread (such as Ezekiel bread) or in a grain-free wrap (also on that Siete website). Feel free to add additional bell pepper slices or a handful of mixed greens, too!
- Eat alone as a "stew" with a side salad of mixed greens or Coleslaw (can add baby tomatoes, olives, or any other salad mix-ins you like)
- Serve over brown rice (cooked in bone broth - can also cook ahead of time and use throughout the week)
- Serve over riced cauliflower (this is SUPER easy to cook! Simply toss in a pan with cooking fat of choice and cook for about 5 minutes. I usually do this and then re-heat my curry by throwing it in the pan to heat through. DELICIOUS)
- Use as a dip for organic blue corn chips or Siete grain-free tortilla chips, or bell pepper slices
- Can eat on top of mixed greens for a curry salad (sounds weird, but I LOVE putting hot curry over my dark leafy greens! Give it a try on a big bed of arugula and a sprinkling of fresh mint on top!)
We had a cookout over the weekend, and had several leftover organic hotdogs and chicken sausages laying around. So, my husband and I just used those to give us some patch-through meals until I prepped the rest of our meals for this week.
- Eat like a regular hotdog (my husband will use regular buns, but I eat them sans-bun or wrapped in a Siete tortilla)
- Cut into medallions and "stir fry" with eggs, salsa, and cheese (if you eat dairy) for a great messy-egg "scramble" (can be eaten as breakfast, lunch, or dinner! I have also stuffed this mixture into a Siete grain-free tortilla with a handful of greens and it was super yummy)
- Cut in half length-wise, reheat on the stove and serve along side a big pile of coleslaw with a little serving of egg salad on the side
PHASE 3: SHOPPING
(asterisk means that I already had these items at home and did not need to purchase them)
Click here for a printable shopping list
Smoothies for the week:
- 1 big bunch Kale
- 1 big bunch Swiss Chard
- 1 small box of pre-washed baby Spinach
- 10lb Bag of carrots
- 2-3 avocados
- 4+ Bananas (ripe)
- 1 bag of Frozen blueberries*
- 2 large Apples*
- 4 medium tomatoes*
- Water, ice, or flaxseed milk* (I mostly use water)
- 2 dozen eggs
- Bell peppers
- Red onion*
- Mayo (I used Primal Kitchen)*
- Relish (I used Bubbie's cultured relish)*
- Spices (garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, paprika)*
Crockpot Curry (enough for aa double batch)
- 1lb Bag of baby carrots
- 2x 16oz bag of frozen mixed veggies
- Cauliflower/riced cauliflower
- 2lbs Grass-fed Beef stew cubes (From our local butcher)*
- 2 large sweet potatoes (I used Japanese purple)*
- 2 onions*
- Cooking fat (such as butter or coconut oil)*
- 2 cans of Full-Fat Coconut Milk*
- Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or Coconut Aminos for a gluten-free option)*
- Fish sauce*
- Herbs and spices (fresh mint, cilantro - from garden, curry powder/paste, salt, and pepper)
- Cabbage* (I had half a head of red and half a head of green. You can also buy pre-shredded cabbage if time is really short for you!)
- Mayo (Primal Kitchen)*
- Spicy mustard (brown mustard)* (I used Sir. Kensington's brand)
- Lime juice*
- Bell pepper*
- Red onion*
- Spices (garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder)*
Coconut Cream Drops
- Coconut oil*
- Coconut butter* (I made my own with shredded coconut that I already had. Simply throw into a food processor or high-power blender and whiz up for about 20 minutes or so until smooth and lusciously creamy)
- Peppermint/Spearmint essential oil* (recipe calls for extract, but I didn't have any so I used 1 drop each of essential oils)
- Cocoa powder*
- Chocolate chips* (I used mini dark chocolate chips by Enjoy Life)
- Lime juice and lime zest*
- Mini muffin papers* (Actually, I didn't have these at home... I stole some from my mother-in-law -- Thanks, Christine!)
Miscellaneous items this week
- 1 big Box of pre-washed spring mix for side salads
- Coffee beans
- Grass-fed heavy cream (for husband)
- Fresh garlic
- Siete grain-free tortillas*
PHASE 4: PLAN OF ATTACK (a.k.a. the part where you actually COOK the food)
As I have mentioned, the key to success here is meal prep and pre-cooking your food. Thankfully, my menu this week was SUPER easy to prep!
I typically do ALL of my food prep and cooking on Sunday so we are ready to go for the work week. Here's an example of how I used my time.
In total, it took me about 1.5 hours to prep everything here for the week!
Step 1 - Prepare eggs
Place 2 dozen eggs in a large pot and cover with water. Place a lid on the pot and set on the stove. Bring to a boil (this should take about 8-10 minutes). Once they come to a boil, turn off heat and let sit for 4-5 minutes (or until your desired level of doneness)
Step 2 - Prep curry items
While eggs are heating, get out your crockpot and begin chopping veggies for the Crockpot Curry.
Add a dollop of cooking fat to your crockpot (I used Ghee) and chop your onions. Add chopped onions to the crockpot.
Next, chop sweet potatoes into very large chunks (most of the potato will turn into mush at the end of the cooking process, so they can be really big chunks) and add on top of the onions.
Cut or tear open your 1lb bag of baby carrots and pour them into the crockpot on top of the potatoes.
Top the carrots off with your stew cubes and add salt and pepper to taste (I tend to liberally salt and pepper the meat on top)
Step 3 - Curry sauce and cooling the eggs
By this point, the eggs will probably have begun to simmer or almost boil. Keep an eye on them and turn off the heat once they boil. Be sure to set a timer for 5 minutes once they have boiled.
Prepare a big bowl or another pot for the egg-cooling process by adding a bunch of ice and cold water. Set aside for egg timer to finish.
I like to blend my canned coconut milk before adding it to the recipe, so I always open the cans of full-fat coconut milk and pour into my blender and turn on low for a few seconds just to blend the coconut cream and coconut water back together (it naturally separates when left on the shelf for a bit).
Add about a tablespoon of cooking fat (I used ghee again) to a soup pan and turn on to medium heat.
While butter is melting, measure out your Bragg's Liquid Aminos and Fish Sauce into a small bowl so you are ready to "dump and go" when the time comes.
Once butter is melted, add your curry powder/paste for just a few seconds. It will become fragrant and begin to turn slightly brown (I LOVE yellow curry so I use a spicy yellow curry powder in this recipe)
As soon as it becomes fragrant, pour in your coconut milk and whisk to incorporate. Then pour in the fish sauce and Aminos. Turn off heat. Pour sauce over the items in your crockpot and cover.
Set to medium heat and leave it alone for 8-10 hours (great overnight or setting up first thing in the morning) NOTE: you will add the remaining mixed veggies to the crockpot about half an hour before serving. I do this at the end of the cooking time before storring the curry in large, wide-mouthed mason jars in the fridge for use throughout the week.
Your 5-minute egg timer should have gone off by now, so you can scoop out your eggs with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the ice bath you have already prepared.
Step 4 - Finishing the eggs and beginning the coleslaw
While eggs are cooling (I leave them in the ice bath for about 5-10 minutes - stirring a few times to make sure the cold is circulating nicely), use your crockpot veggie cutting board to thinly slice your cabbage (skip this step if you are using pre-shredded cabbage).
Add sliced/shredded cabbage to a big bowl or pot and then dice 2-3 bell peppers and red onion to taste (I dice my red onion very small!) and add half of each to the bowl (the second half is for your egg salad). While you're dicing these, also dice your celery for the egg salad.
Mix in mayo (I use about a 3/4 cup - I had a LOT of cabbage!), mustard (I just scooped a bunch out of the jar), lime juice, and spices. I often just use my hands to mix everything together. Cover and keep in the refrigerator.
Once you mix this together, the eggs should be cool enough to peel.
Peel the eggs and set aside until you have peeled all of them.
My favorite trick when preparing egg salad is to use a pastry cutter to "dice" my eggs. In a couple of batches, I place the eggs in a big bowl and "dice" away with the pastry cutter until they have reached my desired level of chunkiness.
Add in your mayo, relish, spices, and diced veggies then stir to combine.
I store my egg salad in large, wide-mouthed mason jars in my fridge for easy access during the week.
4 steps, 1.5 hours, and you've prepped almost all of your food for the week! How cool is that?
If desired, you can take it one step further and make yourself "smoothie packs" so you can just dump them into the blender and go. If you'd like to do that, then give yourself about 30 extra minutes for meal prep and chop/divide the items for your smoothies into zip-top bags for grab-and-go in the morning. Follow the recipe as your guide for which items should go in each bag. (Note that you will probably need to use gallon-sized bags as the greens tend to take up quite a bit of room before they are blended).
OH, and I guess I should mention those Coconut Cream Drops. I made those on a different day and had them left over. That whole process took me about an hour to complete because little ol' me decided it would be great to make my own coconut butter instead of purchasing it like a normal person. Turns out that it takes QUITE a bit of blending to make coconut butter from shredded coconut! I tried it in the blender, then in the food processor, then transferred it back to the blender before I just decided that it was blended enough to use. SO, the moral of that story is to simply purchase your coconut butter and make the entire recipe in about 10 minutes instead of an hour. Check out the recipes and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Happy eating and have a fantastic week! :)
~Serina Vassar, NTP
Click on the right outer side of the images below to scroll through some of my food prep pics!