Plan and prep: one hour, $20, one week of clean snacks

Hi friends! Happy humpday. 🙂 Hope you’re having a wonderful week. Thank you so much for sharing my excitement for the Post Baby Bod plan! Preorders are rolling in, and I can’t wait to share this with you! It’s not only a fitness plan -it’s packed with info, from postpartum snacks to diasastis recti and PPD- and the Post Baby Bod site will include lots of prenatal fitness tips, videos and content. Lots of fun things on the way. 

So, I’ve had big goals for meal planning in 2016, and thankfully, I’ve CRUSHED THEM so far. We’re only two weeks in, though, so there’s that haha. 😉

I thought I’d share some of my prep tips, especially since I always love to hear new recipes and ideas from all of you. I’ve found that for me, it’s much more feasible (and necessary) to plan daytime foods: snacks for myself and Liv, breakfast, and lunch staples. For dinner, the Pilot is usually home, so I’m able to whip up something quick, or I can prep during naptime that day if I’m off to teach that night.

Meal prep

The “during the day” foods are critical, because if I don’t have any healthy options on hand already prepared, I’ll open the fridge, someone will start screaming or need something, and I’ll be off to handle whatever is going on. Then, I’ll end up face-diving into a bag of treat-sized Reese’s or chocolate chips because it’s there and I don’t have to cook it. I never thought I’d be the type of person to miss out on full meals -I love food too much- and then I had babies. I get it now. If I have healthy options on hand, it’s much easier to grab something quick and satisfying, and then I feel more energized during the day. In this case, it also helps me avoid the post-Reese’s crash.

Here’s what I made for this week:

Breakfasts:

Breakfast cookies x 3

Snacks:

Protein chia pudding x 3

Hummus and veggies (enough for snacks each day)

Lunches:

Quinoa salads for lunch x 3

Meal prep 2

Everything took less than 45 minutes, and that’s while I was singing versions of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and doing a ridiculous dance to entertain P haha. I’m set on daytime eats for the next few days. I usually like to prep for 3-5 days and then do a little refresh. I don’t love when salads get soggy, and I find that the breakfast cookies and chia pudding taste the best within 3-5 days. 

Ingredients:

Many of these are pantry staples, so for the extras (the chicken and fresh produce) I only spent $20. To prep for the entire week, simply double the ingredients.

1 pack of chicken breasts

1 cup oatmeal

Protein powder of choice

2 bananas

Nut butter of choice

Almond milk

Chia seeds

Garbanzo beans (1 can)

1 tablespoon of tahini

Lemons (2)

Olive oil, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, cinnamon

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed

Vanilla

Fresh fruit: for breakfast cookies and protein chia pudding topping

Chopped fresh veggies to dip in hummus, and for the salads

Here’s the order of events:

1) Preheat the oven to 375. Start a small pot of water (1 1/4 cups) to boil. Season the chicken well with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Slice one lemon and place the slices on top of the chicken in a glass baking dish. Place into the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through and the juices run clear.

Chicken

2) While the chicken is cooking, add the rinsed quinoa to the boiling pot of water, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover. This needs to cook about 15 minutes, until fluffy and a light ring appears around each piece of quinoa.

3) Make the hummus: In a small food processor, add the garbanzo beans + half of the juice from the can. Add a drizzle of olive oil, heaping teaspoon of tahini, and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Season well with salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika and a bit of cumin. Process until smooth, and store, covered in the fridge.

4) Chop the veggies. Wash and chop any veggies you want to dip in the hummus and use for salads. Store the “dipping veggies” in a sealed container in the fridge. Remove the chicken from the oven, remove from the pan, and let rest on a cutting board. (I actually ended up burning my chicken and making chicken-flavored erasers, so I’ll be adding deli turkey or tuna to my salads….)

5) Make the breakfast cookies and protein chia pudding. For the breakfast cookies, use this recipe. Use 1 cup oats, 3 tablespoons nut butter, 1 1/2 bananas, milk for texture, 1 1/2 scoops protein powder, lots of cinnamon, and any toppings (like dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips) you enjoy! Make your cookies, and cover with plastic wrap (or in a sealed container) in the fridge. For the chia protein pudding, combine 6 tablespoons of chia seeds with 2 cups milk of choice and 1 1/2 scoops of your favorite protein powder. Add vanilla and cinnamon, and stir well until smooth. Separate into 3 jars, and store covered in the fridge. This will need to set overnight, and it will be beautifully thick and delicious.

Breakfast cookies

6) Make your salads. You should get 3-4 salads from the ingredients. In 3-4 glass jars, add your chicken to the bottom. Next, add quinoa, evenly dividing the amount between the jars. Next, top with chopped veggies, and finally, salad greens of choice. Place a lemon wedge on top before sealing. When you want to enjoy your salad, squeeze the lemon on top, add a drizzle of your favorite dressing, cover, and shake!

Do you meal plan this week? Any nutrition goals for 2016? I’m going to focus on hydrating for the next week, which is tricky for me when it’s not sweltering hot outside. Also, I’m currently wanting allthecoffee to keep my eyelids apart. 

Have a great day!

xoxo

Gina

Latest on the family page here!

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Comments

  1. I make a lot of nut butter bites as snacks and healthy granola bars to keep me from diving into the candy throughout the week. I love that salad in a jar. I need to try that trick!

  2. Thanks for sharing! I actually just made this a goal last Friday, but failed to do much with it yet. I used to be so good at meal prepping, and then somewhere in life, I stopped.

    My fiancé travels a lot with work and I find myself having pita chips and hummus for dinner after teaching classes on the nights he’s not here. I need to give myself the time to prep so I can fuel my body better! <3

  3. I am definitely feeling the necessity for prepping food now. Before baby, I had time to cook what I want when I wanted it. No biggie. Also not having pre ready snacks made, meant less snacking which was good. However now that there is the baby and her nap schedule is on the change again, I appreciate having an option I can grab. I started yesterday with my first batch of amazeballs which were awesome! Thanks!

  4. I’m trying to get into the swing of meal prepping. I’m not very good at estimating how much food I need to make (especially when my boyfriend is around – he eats EVERYTHING 🙂 ). Lately I’ve been loving this Sunshine Sauce (http://meljoulwan.com/2009/07/21/sunshine-sauce/) for an easy stir fry. I buy cooked brown rice from Trader Joe’s or Costco and last week I just shredded a rotisserie chicken over the weekend. Last night I just cooked some peppers and carrots on the stove while I made the sauce, added microwaved brown rice, shredded chicken and mixed it all together! Very easy and delicious.

  5. Thank you for sharing this! I need to meal plan and prep for the rest of the week today desperately!

  6. I love chia seed pudding but never thought to put protein powder in it! Genius!

    Also, totally agree that “daytime foods” are the most important to prep, but never really thought of it that way. I know what I am doing on Sunday. Thanks Gina!

  7. I love the idea of prepping salads in mason jars! Meal prepping more is one of my goals for this year and so far so good! Even if it’s just a few days at a time, I like to make extras so I can have leftovers. All of these meals looks so easy!

  8. Alyssa G. says:

    I’m trying meal planning for the first time! This week I prepped a batch of soup (froze half), roasted chicken, sweet potatoes, and spaghetti squash (froze half), and hardboiled eggs. It’s worked really well so far this week! Plus with meal planning I was less likely to buy all. the. things. at TJ’s Sunday!

    • Fitnessista says:

      haha that is so true. when i don’t plan, i just get whatever “looks good” and have no idea what to do with it haha

  9. I need to try those jar salads. I bet I’d eat a lot more salads if they were pre-made. Do you dump them into a dish to eat or just eat from the jar? I guess the dish makes more sense, to stir it up and distribute dressing.

    I think I’ve mentioned it but my pre-prep mainstay is to make a pot of soup each week and that’s my ‘too lazy/late/hungry/whatever to cook a meal’ standby. And there are sooo many soup types, it never feels too repetitive.

    I think I’ll try this one this week, too.
    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/hasselback-sweet-potatoes-recipe.html

  10. Yes, I spend Sundays meal planning and prepping. I love waking up on Mondays and having everything planned and ready to go. With 3 kids going in different directions, I have to!! I am definitely going to make your breakfast cookies. Is there any way to make it so my gut doesn’t hate me??

  11. I love food prepping!! My usual routine is to roast a ton of veggies to put on a bed of greens with protein for lunch, make my husband a big batch of something healthy and satisfying to take for lunch (this week it was a chickpea salad for him to put on top of greens), make snack bites if we are running low (they last forever in our house!), chop veggies for raw veggie snacks, and make egg breakfast sandwiches for my husband to take to work for breakfast. I am hope during the day so I usually assemble my breakfast (oats, smoothies, eggs, etc) when I get home from my early morning workout 🙂

  12. Food prep is so important! If I don’t have healthy meals planned for dinner and leftovers for lunch then it can turn to take out which I definitely try to avoid. I’m trying to mix in new options for our meal prep since it seems like we use the same 10-15 dishes every few weeks. Nothing like a big crockpot full of soup after a long day at work too!

  13. I’m also making it a goal to hydrate more this year…because I am so terrible (read: lazy/forgetful) when it comes to drinking water. I’ve been having breakfast cookies the past few days and it always feels like a fun treat in the morning and a welcome change to my usual breakfast routine!

  14. My staple lunch is roasted sweet potatoes (cut in coins, spray with olive oil, roast at 425 for 20 minutes on parchment-lined cookie sheets). Meal prep is key because the prep time is virtually the same for washing, slicing, and roasting regardless of the number of lunches I make. Once the potatoes are in the oven, I often find myself prepping other fruits and veggies (for raw consumption) since the cutting board and knife are already out. Clean up is minimal.

    When the potatoes come out, I portion into containers and add a few dried apricots. When it’s time for lunch, I reheat them and season with cinnamon and ground flax seed.

  15. How have I never tried your breakfast cookies? Saving that for later. I already have overnight oats prepped for the rest of the week!

  16. I was I was a better meal planner/prepper. We live within walking distance of a Trader Joe’s, so the joke is that Trader Joe’s is our meal planner/prepper. It’s convenient but not always cheap. 🙁

  17. Jennifer L. says:

    Yes, I do try and meal plan (definitely) and meal prep (a bit). I find it helps me make healthier choices, saves time, and reduces dinnertime indecision.
    Me to Hubby: “What do you want to eat, honey?”
    Hubby: “I dunno, what do we have?”
    Me: “Pick for the menu board – those are your options.” End of story (most of the time) lol.

    I have been on a in the habit of making steel-cut crock pot oats for breakfast and spaghetti squash + Italian sausage + Veggies for lunch (or leftovers from dinner).

  18. Just some friendly feedback, the title on your post is very misleading. All those ingredients did not cost just $20, even if you had them in your pantry, you paid for them at some point. And the food you listed does not equate to one week of clean eats (looks like about 3 days worth and it doesn’t include any dinners). I like the idea behind this post and am now planning on making quinoa salad but the title being misleading in an effort to drive more clicks feels very disingenuous.

    • Fitnessista says:

      i’m so sorry about that- i didn’t mean for it to seem click-baity at all. click bait titles to me are usually something like, “the ONLY thing i’ll do before a run!” or “you’ll never believe what happened.” i thought this one was pretty straightforward, but i did change the title to indicate that it’s snacks. as far as the pantry items go, how do you think i should calculate those in the future? for example, the bag of oats was 3.99, but i only used a cup from the entire bag, which has 20 half-cup servings. so should i add it in there as .30? i feel like the pantry staple costs are so small for the amount i used, but i could definitely add them in there.
      thank you for your feedback and help- i appreciate it <3

      • budgetbytes does this and really measures out the portions if you want to check that out — but her blog is about cost so the extra attention to detail makes sense there. For this one post, you could say something like “3 days of Meals for $20 + Your Pantry” etc.

        Just a suggestion because I do agree that it is click-baity. or misleading. whatever you want to call it!

        • Fitnessista says:

          Thank you- I will check out her site.
          I’m really sorry it came off like that. I just thought it was good content to share since I enjoy getting recipe and meal prep ideas from others.

  19. Great post!
    On Sundays I always bake a spaghetti squash, pull out the insides, and store them in the fridge. Perfect base for “spaghetti” dinners and tons of ways to mix it up!
    I also bag veggies for lunches and prep breakfast. Mondays are a *little* less cringe-worthy when I know I have some staples ready!

  20. Those breakfast cookies look yummy!

  21. Faye Holloway says:

    I’m so excited to make your breakfast cookies and salads this weekend! I don’t know how to cook at all so when you say you season the chicken with olive oil – how much do you use? And do you cover both sides or just one?

    Thanks!!

  22. Thanks for the great ‘healthy snacks’ post. As a busy triathlete I struggle to balance my nutritional and calorific requirements. your post will definitely help me fill some of the gaps.

    Thanks

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