Weekly meal prep keeps me on track and allows me to enjoy my free time after work. Knowing I have the foundation for a week's worth of meals removes the stress from trying to figure out what to eat and offers a quick and inexpensive way to maintain a healthy meal plan.
Grocery shopping sometimes becomes a habit - we might buy the same things over and over again. Often times we go grocery shopping, load up our cart, empty our wallet and return home to pack the fridge until it's nearly bursting at the seams. A few hours later, we look into the fridge and think "There's nothing to eat!" Has that ever happened to you? That's where meal planning and prep come into play.
Meal planning and prep are often the 2 biggest obstacles most of my clients face. However, when I show them how easy it can be, most are able to create nutritious, delicious meals even if they are not great cooks. The use of simple techniques, efficient planning, and a few flavorful pantry staples are the foundation of a healthier meal plan.
One method I use in my meal planning is "1 ingredient, 3 ways". When I am working on my meal plan for the following week, I consider various ways I can use one ingredient. If I buy chicken, for example, I may make chicken tacos, lemon chicken piccata with spaghetti squash, and then grill a couple of extra chicken breasts to have on a salad for lunch.
A couple of days ago when I was grocery shopping, I noticed asparagus was on sale for 97 cents per pound! Are you kidding - I often see it priced at between $3 and $4 per pound, so at that price, I bought plenty!
Though asparagus wasn't on my list, I decided to forgo the green beans and buy the asparagus instead. I love it and was completely thrilled with my find.
So, what to do with all of that asparagus? Well, of course, I just served it as a side with my parmesan baked chicken and I sliced some up to add to my salad. Already - 2 ways to use it, but there is plenty more.
Inspired by the Olympics, I made Korean-style pork chops and served asparagus on the side.
A crustless quiche is a delicious and healthy way to start my day. Asparagus, red peppers, chives, and parmesan cheese fill this baked egg dish with flavor. I cut it up into squares, then froze most of it for breakfast next week. It is delicious on its own, but can also be served with a side of Canadian bacon, wrapped in a low-carb wrap, or placed between two English muffin halves for a delicious breakfast sandwich. Be creative with other toppings - spinach, roasted red peppers, avocado, and/or a drizzle of pesto sauce can elevate your meal into something that would rival any restaurant and definitely surpass any drive-thru!
In celebration of Chinese New Year (no resolutions this time!), I created a chicken and asparagus stir fry to serve over cauliflower rice. No need for store bought stir fry sauce - I used simple ingredients that I keep on hand as my staples. Minced ginger and garlic, a bit of sesame oil, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes provided a great seasoning base. The sauce is a tasty blend of chicken stock, Braggs amino acids, a bit of rice wine vinegar, and small amount of honey to balance the flavors. I thickened it up with a slurry of potato starch and water and topped with some chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds.
This recipe contains no MSG, very little oil (I sprayed my pan with olive oil and used about 1 tsp of sesame oil for flavor), and the amount of sodium is about 1/4 of what you would get from a Chinese restaurant or take out. A Chinese inspired meal that won't leave me with the "Chinese food hangover".
One ingredient, 3 ways. Give it some thought when you are planning your weekly menu. Not only does it save you time and money, it is a tasty and healthy way to incorporate nutritious foods into your meals without being confined to yet another salad.
Better Health, Better Life, Better You!
Happy Chinese New Year!