Meal Prep for Busy People

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Eating well and eating right is something that I place a lot of value on. I really believe that what you put eat directly correlates to your health. However, like most of you, I work full time (plus some), spend about 2.5-3 hours at the gym or somewhere else most weeknights.  My husband also works full time (plus a lot) while completing his master’s degree at USC. We just don’t have time or the energy to cook a full meal every night. On top of all that, I have pretty significant food allergies (I talk about it here), and I’m a pretty picky eater too.

In a Pinterest inspiration hunt I came across the idea of make-ahead dinners.  Basically, crazy people will make ahead enough frozen dinners for an entire month so that they can have “fresh” home cooked meals ready with less than 30 minutes of effort every night. The only problem with a lot of these recipes for me is that most contain a lot of really bad ingredients (cream of mushroom soup, Velveeta cheese, sugar, an entire package of cream cheese, any type of gluten), or just don’t taste good.

After months of trial and error, we’ve developed a system that allows us to make-ahead several dinners, lunches and breakfasts for the week in only a few hours. Typically, on Sunday I check the freezer and the pantry to see what we have available to work with. I then plan for five make ahead meals, trying to use what I have and using at least two different types of protein.

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We’ll shop for whatever we need, and then I’ll take over the kitchen for about three hours and make everything. It gets a bit chaotic and really, really messy – I generally freak out at least twice about how much work it is – but it’s completely worth it.

 

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I don’t like to eat the same thing every day, so the key to making this work is  to plan one night a week where you actually cook an easy dinner (perfect for rest day!), make a giant salad for lunches, and make sure to have a variety of flavors throughout the week. This tricks me into feeling like I’m having some variety in my meals even if I’m eating the same protein or salad most days. PS – the egg cups are super easy and I already shared the recipe here.

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The true star of this system is our crock pot. When I prep for the week on Sunday, I premix any recipe for the slow cooker and dump everything with the meat in a labeled ziplock bag and toss it in the fridge. This has two benefits – I can just pour everything in the slow cooker before going to work on the day that we want to eat it, and the meat gets a really good long marinating session, which makes it taste even better!

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This system works for us, but I think you should experiment and see if it works for you and what you need. Some of my favorite recipes that do really well as make-ahead crockpot meals. They’re all gluten free and can easily be made paleo!

Take-Out Fake-Out Beef and Broccoli

Flank Steak in Mushroom Sauce

Jambalaya

Lemon-Garlic Chicken

Workout of the Day 7/14/2015 – Tuesday

CrossFit

Strength.
3 Sets (untimed):
ME Weighted Dips
ME Weighted Pull-Ups

Met-Con.
EMOM 20:
Odd – 15 Wall Balls (20#/14#)
Even – 10 Burpees

CrossFit 101

Strength.
Back Squat 5 x 5

Use the same weight as last week or a little heavier.

Met-Con.
AMRAP 12:
10 Steps Walking Lunge w/KB’s
15 Box Jumps
200m Run