Make the Most of Your Meals

A common question has been popping up recently with my clients, “What do you make when you meal prep?”. The situation they find themselves in, isn’t the willingness to meal prep but more so they don’t know what to make or don’t want to eat the same thing over and over again. In a previous article, The Hardest Part is Getting Started, I discussed how to get started meal prepping and setting a consistent routine for yourself. Meal prepping can become an easy and consistent priority that will positively impact your week and set you on the path to a heathier lifestyle. The biggest bonus for me is knowing that my breakfast and lunch for the week are one less thing I have to think about.

When most people think meal prep, they think bland chicken breast and vegetables. Well the truth is, unless you are prepping for a bodybuilding show, you can certainly give yourself some grace. Meal prepping doesn’t mean eating the same thing over and over again and wanting to gag because there is no flavor in your food. Meal prepping is about portion control and time management throughout the week. Meal prepping will help save you from spending $10-$15 a day on lunch. And it is no secret that homecooked meals are always better for you than fast food.

Disclaimer

It is important to note that I am not a nutritionist or registered dietician. This article will not provide you with any macro-counting or dietary guidelines. This article is simply to provide you with recipe ideas and things to consider when figuring out what to meal prep for yourself.

There are dozens of ideas and things you can cook that will save and reheat well. A lot of them are simply combining different kinds of proteins, vegetables, and a carb to create a balanced meal. Try not to overthink it, you want to cook things that you will enjoy and have flavor. I do meal prep my breakfast as well, but for the sake of this article we are going to stick to lunch and dinner options.

Let’s start with a few ingredients that are always good to keep in the house:

  • Salt and pepper

  • Garlic powder

  • Onion powder

  • Olive oil and Cooking spray

  • Unsalted butter

  • Breadcrumbs

  • Seasoning blends i.e. Italian seasoning, taco seasoning, garlic herb rubs etc.

  • Bottled marinades

Meal Prep Staples

White Rice

For every 1 cup of rice, you need 2 cups of water which will yield 3 cups of rice.

**You can cook rice in a rice cooker, in a pot of boiled water on the stove, or use the boil-in-a-bag package already portioned out and ready to go (sorry Maria and Katherine).

Follow the instructions on the back of the package for cook time!

Sweet Potatoes (baked)

You can make baked sweet potatoes. I do mine by piercing them with a fork and popping them in the microwave for about 6 minutes depending on the size of the potato.

  • Remove from microwave and slice in half

  • Cut small sits into the potato

  • Spread butter over the potato (optional)

  • Sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar over top

**I let them sit in the Tupperware like this so when you reheat them during the week the cinnamon and brown sugar will melt over the potato.

Sweet Potatoes (fries) or Roasted Potatoes

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

  • Peel and slice the sweet potato into strips

  • Toss in salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and olive oil

  • Bake for 20 minutes, tossing halfway through

**You can also switch it up and do cinnamon and sugar as your seasoning instead!

Pasta

Cook 1 pound of pasta by following the instruction on the box

**You can make pasta with minced garlic and oil or a jar of tomato sauce

**Add protein of choice to the pasta

Roasted Vegetables

  • Preheat the oven the 400 degrees

  • Rinse and chop veggies

  • Toss in salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and olive oil

  • Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on preferred texture

**You can do this for chopped peppers, zucchini, squash, asparagus, carrots, green beans and the list goes on…


Frozen Vegetables

**It is always a good idea to have bags of frozen vegetables on hand

  • Simply follow the directions on the bag and pair them with any meal prep recipe ideas.

  • If you cook the vegetables for less time than the bag says, they won’t be as mushy and will reheat better throughout the week.

Grilled Chicken

  • Go into any supermarket and they all have bottles of marinades, pick a few up if you’re not comfortable making your own.

  • Place your chicken in a Ziploc bag and pour the marinade over top.

  • Try to let it marinate for at least 2 hours, but ideally the longer they marinate the more flavor there will be.

**You can use chicken breast, boneless chicken thighs, and chicken tenderloins to switch up your protein option

Baked Chicken

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

  • Season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder

  • Drizzle olive oil over top

  • Bake for 25 minutes

**You can also bread the chicken to switch it up by seasoning the chicken and then tossing it in flour, egg batter, and breadcrumbs


Ground Meat

  • Sauté ground turkey, chicken, sausage or beef and add it to a variety of meals

  • Pour olive oil in a pan over medium heat

  • Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and any other seasoning you prefer

Again, these are merely ideas of things you can make that will mix and match well to create more variety in your meals. For me, I can eat the same thing twice a week for lunch, so I make two lunch meals a week and portion them out in Tupperware, so they are ready to go. Every few weeks or so I will switch up the meal to give my pallet a break. I know some people don’t want to eat the same thing every day so by mixing and matching your protein, vegetables, and carb options, problem solved!

Examples:

Baked chicken thighs, roasted potatoes, roasted zucchini

Grilled chicken breast, rice, and roasted peppers

Baked chicken tenderloins, roasted potatoes, and frozen bag of broccoli

Meals

By making two different lunches every week, this allows me to have two different meals. Monday-Thursday our lunches are planned, and Friday’s lunch is usually leftovers from dinner earlier in the week or the option to go out for lunch. Every meal makes 4 servings which leaves 2 meals for me and 2 for Danny.






Beef and Beans

  • Cook 1 cup of white rice

  • Brown 1 pound of ground beef (can sub. for turkey or chicken)

  • Sauté green beans with sesame oil and garlic powder and salt

  • When green beans are close to done, toss in low-sodium soy sauce for some extra flavor





Grilled Sausage Pasta

  • Cook 1 pound of pasta

  • Grill sausages and chop in smaller pieces (can also use ground sausage too)

  • Save 1/4 cup of pasta water to mix with the tbsp of minced garlic and olive oil once the pasta is drained

  • Sauté peppers with salt, pepper, and garlic powder

  • Combine all ingredients




Turkey Pasta Salad

  • Cook pasta salad (I buy the pasta salad in a box)

  • Cook bag of frozen mixed vegetables

  • Brown ground turkey and season w/ taco seasoning

  • Combine all together







Chicken Kebabs

  • Cut chicken in cubes and marinate

  • Place chicken and cut up vegetables on skewers

  • Grill chicken and veggies

  • Cook 1 cup of rice

Chicken Burrito Bowl

  • Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat

  • Season 1 pound of chicken breast with taco seasoning

  • Cook chicken thoroughly and then shred on a cutting board

  • Cook 1 cup of white rice

  • Rinse off a can of black beans

  • Sauté peppers in a pan with salt, pepper, and garlic powder

  • Combine all together and add shredded cheese on top


If you haven’t noticed by now, there is a theme. There is always some type of protein, vegetable and carb in every meal. However, every meal can be mixed and matched or substituted out for a variety of things. By making those subtle changes along with using different marinades and seasoning blends, you will keep yourself from ever getting bored. Don’t overcomplicate the process make it realistic and delicious!

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