Sunday, December 14, 2014

My Meal Preps Take 2 :: The Juggling Act.

Well a two month wait for the second installment on my meal prepping was probably a little overkill, but I've been busy, people. And now that December is half-way over, let's just say we're lucky I've remembered to breath...and I know I'm not alone on that feeling.

I believe the last meal prep process blog ended somewhere around you've got a food haul: now what? (Check out that meal prep post to see what sort of things are making it home with me from the grocery stores) So today, we'll focus on getting from shopping cart to this:

The easiest way for me to explain my own chaotic process is to walk you through my tasks. Some Sundays I get home with all my loot and have a sudden feeling of overwhelming I just turn the oven on. First things first, people. Oven at 415 and I know I can make anything happen.

Turning around from the oven, your counter may look something like mine...well let me tell you how I start. Bacon. Just bacon. Bacon seems like a perfectly reasonable and thoughtful way to start a meal prep. I throw a tray of bacon in the oven to crisp up while I move on to other elements. And, let's face it, once the bacon is employed, everything else just falls into place.
For this meal prep, I knew I was planning to prep a couple dishes to bake and needed to get those in the oven and then could tend to more stove top elements. Paleo Shepard's Pie and Pizza Spaghetti Pie took precedence on this. Browning meat takes little attention at first so I started to chop my sweet potatoes for breakfast bowl while monitoring the meat. Balancing two stove top elements while prepping other veggie elements like the mashed cauliflower top for the shepard's pie and baking the spaghetti squash for the pizza spaghetti becomes quite the juggling act. Phone, microwave and oven timers are deployed in the hopes of keeping the balancing act going.

Removing the bacon, I choose a veggie (broccoli or brussels sprouts) to spread across the pan's bacon grease and toss that pan back in the oven (after spreading evenly and seasoning of course)! Getting the shepard's pie and spaghetti squash dish in the oven along with some veggies, I move on to that breakfast bowl.
Brussels after roasting in the bacon grease and FlavorGod seasonings!
I got the sweet potatoes simmering in oil over medium heat with a lid to steam them for softness. While that cooks, I browned more meat for this dish and moved on to getting an additional protein ready. This week it was salmon...I prefer my salmon a little crispy on the edges so it's easy for me to season this up and throw it in the oven next to the veggies with the casserole dishes on another shelf. As long as timers are kept straight, it's easy to just allow all these elements to cook at that same least for this multi-tasking chef.

Once the meat and sweet potatoes are ready for the breakfast bowl, I scramble up a pan of eggs and get this all mixed together. <<I'll be posting this recipe (and any others not up yet) later>> With one breakfast simmering together, I start in on my veggie packed meatballs <<Again, I'll share these soon>>.

 ...While I can, let me take a moment of confession: I'm Lisa and I have some OCD tendencies. This often causes me to use any down moments between spatula tossles to wash dishes and keep up with the kitchen...making the overall experience less overwhelming, and more controllable....that's all...

So back to these meatballs. I keep this simple and am able to pretty much dump a bunch of veggies in the processor and pulse a couple times. Gettin my hands dirty, I get these suckers rolled and into the oven in almost record time. I mean, it's pretty impressive. Ha
The meatballs headed into the oven. Recipe share coming soon!
As sides and dishes come out of the oven I begin to portion these out into my individual containers to get more pans out of the way and get more grasp on how many of each dish I will have for the week. The remaining time is a balance of chopping, washing and bagging some fresh raw veggies and any fruit or nuts for snacks as well as getting the dishes out to portion and pack up.
One question I get a lot is about storage containers and fridge life...
I find this sort of personal preference. Always check your eggs and other dates as the original food's expiration dates should be maintained as the meal's shelf life. In effort to be able to prep for my whole week, I do not ever have issue with reheating meals or eating the same thing a few times a week. Others may prefer to prep a few days of food and then prep more mid-week, but my preference is to knock it all out!

As for containers, my favorite meal containers, as you can see from the picture, are actually from Snap Kitchen (or My Fit Foods or Simply Fit...or whatever ready made meal place you've got...). They have great sizes, bpa free, a nice tight seal and they stack and fit well everywhere, storing the right size meals. I typically dump my food on a paper plate to spread it out and heat up but you can also heat up directly in these (unless you've got the whole fear of plastic thing going on). I collect these containers from week's I don't meal prep or from friends who don't keep theirs and love having them ready to use for my own meals.

In regards to what all I try to prep...
That depends on the week a little. Ideally, I would have 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches, and at least a few dinners if not all of them. I also am sure to have something yummy for an afternoon snack or pre-workout fuel (the meatballs) and raw veggies and nuts for healthy snacking options. Just remember to be considering your macro-nutrients and fueling your metabolism throughout the entire day with real whole foods.

With all of these elements ready and raring to go, there's no room for cheats, going hungry, or having to spend extra money throughout the week for food. 

If I can prioritize this in my busy schedule, you can too. Start simple and get excited to see how your love for cooking will grow, or as in my case, come out of nowhere!

Happy prepping friends!
Finding Fit,

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