5 Tips for Faster Meal Prepping!

So, you’re a busy single mother, a full time student with a job, or an overwhelmed business owner who can’t catch a break..or maybe you’re all three! This one is for you! You know you need to start meal prepping in order to maintain your health and sanity with your crazy schedule, but you just can't seem to find the time to do it. I hear this problem from many of my customers, which is why they come to me to have their meal prep done for them. But let’s be real, not everyone can afford the luxury of having a meal prep service do all the hard work for them. So you think you’re too busy to meal prep? Well then, you’re doing it wrong! If time is what’s preventing you from reaching your goals, I’m about to smash that excuse into oblivion. With a combination of modern technology and smart planning, I’ll show you how you can cut your meal prep time in HALF, or more, with these five strategies.

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1. Download the Instacart app!!! DO IT!

If you haven’t heard of Instacart, allow me to expand your world! This nifty new company is the best thing since sliced bread and has taken off with amazing success in the past year. Shop online at your favorite grocery stores through the app, and a personal shopper will go and shop for you and deliver your groceries right to your door for a small delivery fee. Or you can sign up for a membership and get FREE unlimited deliveries for just $10/month! According to my Instacart account, which I started using at the beginning of the year, I have already saved 68 HOURS of shopping time! That breaks down to about 3.5 hours a week! The app even saves your purchased items for even faster ordering the next time!

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2. Buy Frozen Vegetables.

Sometimes frozen produce get a bad rap for not being ‘fresh’, but this is a complete myth. Most times frozen produce is picked at the peak of freshness and flash frozen which preserves nutrients. This means frozen produce can be even fresher than non-frozen produce, which has often been picked early and chemically ripened after being shipping halfway across the world. The best part about using frozen is that it cuts out two time-consuming steps; chopping and cooking. Frozen veggies requires NO cooking when adding to your meal prep. After being thawed they are soft enough to finish cooking when you warm your dish up in the microwave before eating. You may want to let them defrost first before adding them to your meal if you don’t want excess moisture in your food, however it’s not necessary. There’s also endless variety when it comes to frozen veggies. They have everything from the staples like broccoli and green beans, to fancy mixes and blends, to sneakier options like veggie pastas, and cauli-flower rice!

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3. Buy pre-marinated and pre-cut meats.

Grocery stores are making it even easier on us now by offering several cuts and types of meat already seasoned and cut. You can now skip hours of marinating time, and purchase your meats ready to cook. Here are some commonly found pre-cut and/or pre-seasoned meats that are widely available:

- Seasoned and sliced carne asada or chicken for fajitas

- Stir fry beef

- Marinated diced taco meat

- Cubed stew meat

- Marinated turkey breast or pork tenderloin

- Taco or sausage seasoned ground turkey or chicken

- Seasoned chicken kabobs

Marinated salmon and tilapia filets

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4. Stick to no-cook recipes.

This might be a trickier one, but you’ll find plenty of delicious no-cook recipes with a quick Google or Pinterest search, the most obvious of course being salads. You can even purchase a cooked rotisserie chicken or pre-hard boiled eggs to add for protein. Mason jar salads are easy to assemble and only take a couple minutes to throw together. Put your dressing on the bottom to prevent your salad from getting soggy and layer in your veggies, greens, protein, nuts and cheese on top, then just shake it up when you’re ready to eat it. Another one of my favorites (which is also available to purchase from my menu) is egg scramble cups, also known as mug eggs. Simply layer your choice of veggies, meat and cheese into a container, nestle two whole eggs on top, seal and store in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat, crack in the eggs, put on the lid, give it a good shake, and pop it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Voila! You have a healthy egg scramble. Other no-cook ideas include overnight oats, chia pudding, protein shakes, tuna salad, egg salad, wraps, parfaits, and mason jar ramen (just add hot water!).

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5. Schedule your meal prep into your calendar, and STICK to it!!

All the above tips will help significantly cut your prep time down, however it still takes some time! As a busy entrepreneur I know the struggle of trying to manage your daily to-do list. A neat trick that I’ve learned that’s helped me get more consistent and productive, is to throw away my to-do list! That’s right, just throw it away! Instead, SCHEDULE all the things you have to do that week into your calendar. Actually block out time for every task you need to get gone, whether it’s working out, taking the kids to practice, cooking dinner, or doing homework. By actually writing down your tasks into a schedule, you’ll be more likely to get everything done, less stressed since everything has it’s own dedicated time, and you’ll surprise yourself when you realize it all doesn’t take as much time as you thought. So schedule in a hour to plan your menu on Saturday, and schedule another 15 mins to put in your instacart order. Sunday morning schedule 1-2 hours to do your meal prepping for the week once your groceries are delivered. And don’t forget to schedule in your free time!

There you have it guys. Time is no longer an excuse to skip meal prepping. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated! As with any new habit, it will take more time in the beginning, but the more you do it, and the more it becomes your routine, the faster you’ll get! I’d love to know if these tips helped you, or if you have any other strategies for making meal prepping faster, so leave me a comment and share with me your ideas or results!


From Drab to Delicious - 5 ways to make dull ingredients delectable!

Let’s face it, meal prepping can get BORING. Especially when you’re on a tight budget, and a tight schedule. The most traditional and efficient way of meal prepping involves cooking large batches of the same food ahead of time to eat throughout the week. But let’s be honest, who wants to eat the same thing day in and day out? To make matters worse, the cost of food is rising everyday and the vast majority of us are forced to use the cheapest ingredients in order to get the most bang for our buck, chicken and rice being the top contenders. But even the most dedicated of us all can only eat so much chicken and rice before gagging at the very thought of eating it again, right?

Wrong! I’m about to change the way you think about the traditional, boring, chicken and rice meal prep. But first let me explain why chicken and rice are the BEST ingredients to stick to with your meal prep routine.

They are the most affordable. Chicken is the one of the cheapest protein options you can currently get, and with rice only costing pennies per pound, you’re sure to save some serious dough by sticking to these basic ingredients.

They preserve well. Unlike fish or red meats, chicken tends to stay fresh for longer after being cooked. This goes for rice too, and both of them freeze and defrost rather well if you can’t eat all your meals before they expire.

They are endlessly versatile. Not only in which cuts of chicken you can get, and what types are rices are available, but also in how many ways you can cook them! Whether you’re crock-potting, grilling, or throwing together a quick one-pot meal, the options are endless!

So, if I haven’t convinced you yet how awesome chicken and rice can be, I’m about to. Instead of cooking a large batch of ONE recipe to eat over and over again, try this easy method instead: Crock pot or grill a few pounds of plain unseasoned chicken (or use just salt and pepper), and prepare 2-3 cups of white or brown rice ahead of time for the week, but ADD YOUR FLAVORS LATER. By having just the plain basics on hand, you can add whatever flavors and optional ingredients to them the day you’re going to eat it, so you can literally have a totally different and fresh meal every day!

Here’s 5 examples of ways you can spice up your prepped chicken and rice by adding different sauces, toppings, veggies, and spices for whatever you’re in the mood for!

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Add some basil pesto, Parmesan cheese, roasted asparagus and cherry tomatoes to your chopped chicken and cooked rice and enjoy this meal either hot or cold!

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Add taco seasoning, beans, corn, and peppers for a tex-mex style meal. To really kick up the flavor add fresh toppings like cheese, avocado, cilantro and lime!

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Add some chopped steamed broccoli and sharp cheddar cheese for a simple and flavor packed nutritious meal.

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For an Asian twist, simply add your chopped chicken and cooked rice to a pan and add a scrambled egg, frozen peas and carrots, and soy sauce to flavor it up. Add fresh green onions on top for added flavor and texture.

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Throw in some steamed or stir fried veggies and teriyaki sauce for a classic chicken teriyaki bowl.

This list can go on forever and ever. There are endless flavor combinations and cooking methods to take your budget friendly chicken and rice meal prep to the next level. If you struggle with eating the same thing every day and need some variety in your life, give this method a try and see how it can change your meal time from drab to delicious!





Flavor-Boosting Tricks Add Spark to Healthy Cooking By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

While doing some research for my blog this week, I came across this article that perfectly embodied everything I was going to write about! I don't think I could have written it anymore perfectly myself, so this week, I decided to take a little break from writing and share this informative article with you all.  It perfectly explains how layering flavors and using the right cooking techniques can not only make your food more flavorful, but also much healthier since it "slashes sodium, trims calories, and increases nutrient absorption."

If you want to learn how to cook healthy and flavorful meal preps, just click this link to read the article:

 http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/flavor-boosting-tricks-add-spark-to-healthy-cooking#1

5 Flavor-Packed Meat Marinades

This month is all about boosting flavor for your meal preps! One of the best ways to ensure a lot of flavor is to marinate your meats! But store-bought marinades can be full of preservatives, dyes, and other questionable ingredients. That's why I think it's best to make your own marinades at home. I prefer to marinate my meats overnight to really lock in the flavor, but usually 2-3 hours will be sufficient. There is a really simple formula to follow when creating marinades, and you can get really creative with the flavor combination while sticking to the guidelines. Here is the secret formula I use when making most of my marinades:

¼ cup of fat  + 2 Tbsp acid  + 1-2 tsp flavor  + 1-2 tsp herbs (or 2nd flavor) + salt & pepper

Here are my top 5 marinates, using the formula above, to try out for your next meal prep session: 

Give these great recipes a try or experiment with different flavors to create your own marinade recipes! The flavor combinations are endless! If you enjoyed this blog, stay tuned for more flavor tips next week, and click the link below to subscribe. 

5 Tips For A More Flavorful Meal Prep

One of the biggest complaints I hear about meal prepping is that people don’t like the taste of reheated food. On top of that it’s boring to eat the same things over and over again, day after day. If this sounds familiar, then you’re doing it all wrong! There are some simple strategies that anyone can learn to make your meal prep taste great! There’s no reason to eat bland and tasteless food, even when it’s been in the fridge for several days. Here’s five of my top secrets for a flavorful meal prep that you’ll look forward to eating all week.

  1. Start with what’s in season - Fruits and veggies that are in-season and locally grown are bursting with flavor! If you normally buy all your produce from supermarkets, you really don’t know what you’re missing! Try buying your produce from the Visalia Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings, and you’ll definitely taste the difference. Produce from supermarkets are usually harvested early and chemically ripened, then shipped thousands of miles, sitting in boxes for days or even weeks before they make it to the grocery stores. This can make for some pretty bland veggies and tart fruits.

  2. Go heavy on the seasonings - When meals sit in the fridge for several days, they tend to lose their flavor quickly. There’s no getting around the fact that reheated leftovers just never taste the same as food that is freshly cooked. So I always recommend going a little heavier on the spices and seasonings for meal prepping than you normally would for a freshly cooked meal. Or, you can even wait to season your food until just before you eat it. I often add a little olive or avocado oil and himalayan salt or garlic to my meals just before consuming.

  3. Add fresh toppings to your meals -  This is my favorite tip, and it’s amazing the difference that a topping can make! After reheating your meal, try kicking up the flavor with some freshly squeezed lime juice, chopped herbs, guacamole, salsa, fresh grated cheese, or hot sauce. It can not only boost the flavor but add more texture and nutrition to your meals.

  4. Spice up your staples - Instead of cooking your rice and/or quinoa in water, try cooking it in a low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth. Or you can make tangy cilantro-lime rice, by adding fresh squeezed lime juice and chopped cilantro to your cooked brown rice. Instead of seasoning your meats right before you cook them, try marinating them overnight to really lock in the flavor. And don’t forget about your veggies! Try adding some lemon pepper seasoning to your steamed broccoli, or garlic salt on your green beans!

  5. Eat the rainbow - The more colors you have in your meal, the more flavor you will have, guaranteed! Adding a wide array of colors also ensures you are getting plenty of nutrients, along with lots of flavor and texture. Try making a simple black bean and corn salsa with chopped red and green bell peppers, purple onions, and cilantro to add on top of your meals or enjoy as a snack with tortilla chips!

If your meal prep is bland and boring, try out these easy tips to spice it up! Just by choosing the right produce, knowing how and when to season, and adding flavorful and fresh toppings, anyone can brighten up an otherwise dull meal. If you want to learn more about adding great flavor to your food, stay tuned for next week’s blog, and subscribe by clicking the link below.

5 Tips on How to Chill Your Summertime Meal Prepping

      The scorching temperatures that came along with this year’s Summer Solstice are here to stay for a while. As we’ve all discovered by now, there is just no more avoiding the heat at this point, so we all need to learn how to adapt to a cooler way a living. As the seasons change, so should our nutrition and eating habits. No one wants to stand over the stove or in front of a hot oven in these temperatures! So let’s ditch them altogether for now, and let me show you some easy and delicious ways to adapt your diet to help beat the heat.

  1. Switch to cold meals - This one may sound obvious but it’s the most logical thing to do in the summer. Our bodies crave cold refreshing meals when it’s blazing hot outside, and for good reason! You can easily switch your breakfast routine to a protein shake or overnight oats, a mason jar salad for lunch, and crisp turkey lettuce wraps for dinner. No cooking is required to make flavorful and nutritious meals. Here’s one of my favorite recipes for overnight oats:

2. Eat what’s in season - Summertime brings an abundance of seasonal fruits and veggies packed with nutrients and flavor that we should all take advantage of while it lasts! Stone fruits like apricots, peaches and cherries, juicy melons, sweet berries,  and crisp crunchy corn are always summertime treats that I look forward to. By eating what’s in season we’re ensuring that we’re feeding our bodies the most nutrient-dense foods available, not to mention saving some serious dollars. Often times these foods are in such abundance, farmers and grocery stores are practically giving them away! Here is a sweet seasonal fruit salad that makes a perfect side dish for Fourth of July:

3. Eat more raw fruits and veggies - In this heat it's imperative that we stay hydrated. Did you know that drinking liquids isn’t the only way to stay hydrated? Fresh raw fruits and vegetables contain an abundance of water. In fact, on average about 20% of our water intake comes from food! Try these ideas for portable and convenient summertime snacks:

4. Get the whole family involved - Summertime means school is out and the kids are home! Many people use this as an excuse why they don’t have time to meal prep, but you can use it to your advantage! Make meal prepping a family activity! Since many summer recipes require little to no cooking, there’s no danger of little fingers getting burned. You can even purchase child-safe knives that will cut produce, but not skin, for incredibly cheap (about $9 for a 3-pack on Amazon). Another easy method to getting the whole family involved is by creating an assembly line when putting together meals, and allowing each person to be in charge of adding one or two items to each meal. Letting the kids do some of the work saves time, teaches them valuable cooking skills and teamwork at a young age, creates family bonding time, and encourages them try foods they normally never would. When kids are involved in the process of making meals and snacks, it gives them a sense of pride and ownership, and they’re much more likely to eat the food, even if they don’t like it, just because they had a part in making it! Check out these fun kid-friendly meal and snack ideas:

5. Try steamable meals, or as I like to call them FreshPrep Meals - This method of meal prepping requires little to no cooking which makes it perfect for the summer time. FreshPrep meals are all raw ingredients that steam cook in your microwave (or oven) in just a few minutes. The only ingredients that require cooking are your carbs. You can throw in pre-cooked rice, quinoa, or partially cooked potatoes or sweet potatoes (or you can skip the carbs if you choose) Then add your favorite raw veggies, and your choice of seasoned raw meat. Fish and shrimp work well in the steam bags, but other cuts of meat like chicken or beef work better if cut into small or thin pieces. Then just seal up the bag and throw it in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it! Here is one of my favorite FreshPrep recipes:

     As you can see, meal prepping can easily be changed and adapted to suit the changing seasons. Many people find a routine they are comfortable with and stick to it day in and day out. And that’s great, don’t get me wrong! But it can get boring and tedious. But by taking advantage of what foods the season has to offer us, respecting the ever changing needs of our bodies in different temperatures, and trying new methods and strategies, we can become more adaptable and flexible in our health and fitness journey. I hope I’ve inspired you to try out some new ideas to make your summer a little more chill.

     If you enjoyed this blog, I’ll be back next week with a NEW theme for the new month! Stay tuned, and click the link below to subscribe!