Friday, June 28, 2024

Plan, Prep, Repeat

Free Fresh Vegetables photo and picture

We live in a fast-paced world, where time is precious and convenience often dictates our food choices. Meal planning and food prepping may be our "meal ticket" to better health and maintaining a healthier weight.
Free Vegetables Pot photo and picture

There I've said it- but do I do it? Yes and No... why? 

I try to plan and meal prep. I really do try, and sometimes I'm very successful. But then things get in the way such as vacations, visiting relatives, eating in restaurants, parties, weddings, graduations, birthdays, etc. I have to admit that it's a struggle to stay focused on my healthy eating goals!

Free Adoption Party photo and picture

Fall off the bicycle? Get back on!!
Sometimes I get off track, and I continually try to reel myself back in and stay on track, but the trouble is that once I am eating out and get a "taste" of what I think of as highly exciting stimulating foods( laden with high salt, sugar, fat, and taste sooo good- excitotoxins), I get addicted to the salt, sugar, fat etc and don't want less exciting foods such as lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, etc. 

Free Cake Birthday photo and picture
Free Food And Drink Industry Food And Drink photo and picture

I often find it more difficult to discipline myself to get back to less stimulating healthier choices (salad, vegetables, beans, legumes etc.) 

Do you know what I mean? 

Free Vegetables Tomatoes photo and picture

Love my cooking!!!
Don't get me wrong. I am a darn good cook, and I make some awesome recipes that are extremely health giving - but they take planning and prep to make them. So here I am back to the original topic- planning and prepping good healthy food!

vegan stuffed tomatoes and peppers
Stuffed pepper and stuffed tomato Recipe here 

Who is the busiest and has the least time? 
Does it matter if you are a busy professional, a parent juggling multiple responsibilities, very active retirees like me and my husband, gluten-free or plant-based?  Don't we all share the same challenge ? We all need to -Plan, Prep, Repeat (every week)

So the challenge is to figure out ways to minimize our efforts. 

Groceries Delivered 
My son and daughter in-law who are BIG planners and prep-pers save time by having their weekly grocery orders delivered to their front door. They spend 2-3 hours prepping for the week for a family of four.

 

Hire Assistance: 
One of my good friends. who is dealing with a very sick husband, has hired a cook for 3 hours a week to prepare plant-based batch cooking for the week. This helps her eat nourishing meals that helps her keep up her own strength and health during this very difficult time. She pays an hour-rate, so three hours a week is affordable.

Use Frozen: 

I often use frozen (organic) vegetables . I stock up at Costco with a large bag of each of organic broccoli, organic green beans, organic cauliflower rice, organic mix of cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, etc.  I find it convenient because there is no need to wash, clean, cut or make a mess AND I always have some vegetables available. I simply open the bag, pour the amount I want to use in a skillet, add a small amount of water, cover, and steam for 5 minutes. I definitely eat more vegetables this way. (recipe link here)

broccoli stir fry
Frozen vegetables in a skillet (cover) with 1/2 cup of water for 5 minutes 

 

         Freeze Grains :   

 I also cook grains such as rice or quinoa in large quantities and then once they are very cool, I divide them into portion size baggies and freeze for future use. See how to freeze rice here. *don't like plastic ?- use freezer-safe glass containers.
DIY frozen rice
I cooked this rice with cumin seeds!

  

 Some ideas I found online to help minimize the effort: 

  1. Batch Cooking: Dedicate a few hours on a weekend or a less busy day to prepare large batches of staple foods like grains, proteins (for me- beans), and vegetables. Store them in portions for easy reheating or assembling throughout the week.

  2. Meal Planning Apps: Use meal planning apps or websites that provide recipes, generate grocery lists, and allow you to schedule meals for the week ahead. Some popular ones include Mealime, Plan to Eat, and Paprika.

  3. Simple Recipes: Focus on recipes that require minimal ingredients and preparation time. Look for one-pot meals, sheet pan dinners, or salads that can be easily customized. 

  4. Pre-cut and Pre-washed Ingredients: Purchase pre-cut vegetables, pre-washed greens, and other convenience items from the grocery store to reduce prep time. ( I don't like to do this one because there may be added preservatives - not sure. I prefer to cut my own. Recipe link here for make-ahead salads in mason jars.

  5. Freeze Meals: Prepare extra portions of meals and freeze them in individual containers. This way, you can simply thaw and reheat them when needed.

  6. Use Leftovers Creatively: Plan meals that can be repurposed from leftovers. For example

  7. Keep a Stock of Healthy Staples: Always have essentials like canned beans, frozen vegetables, whole grains, and healthy sauces or spices on hand to make quick meals.

  8. Plan Around Weekly Sales: Check grocery store flyers for weekly sales and plan meals based on what’s on offer to save money and simplify your shopping list.

  9. Invest in Kitchen Gadgets: Consider using tools like a slow cooker, instant pot, or air fryer, which can simplify cooking and reduce hands-on time. My Instant Pots (I have two) make my cooking so much easier ( soup, rice, quinoa, vegetables, potatoes, )

  10. Create Theme Nights: Assign specific themes to each day of the week (Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Italian night, Middle Eastern, Asian, etc. ) to streamline decision-making and grocery shopping.

By incorporating these ideas into your routine, you can make planning and prepping healthy meals more efficient and less time-consuming.

I like the comment of Veronica Lee author of the blog "Of Mice and raMen" (link to her blog here

Planning and prepping are definitely game-changers for healthier eating habits!
Love your tips, Judee.


What do you do? Do you plan your weekly menu? Do you prep? Share some of your ideas in the comments. 





23 comments:

  1. Don't do meal planning at all because I never stay with the plan. I like the idea of flavour rice with cumin.

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  2. Such beautiful, colourful food! We try to eat a variety of vegetables every day. It does take work!

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  3. I eat rice daily, so I usually cook 3 cups of rice, two times a week. I don't freeze cooked rice, but would like to try it.
    I too love cumin rice. Sometimes I add a tiny bit of turmeric powder to make rice yellow. :)

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  4. Planning and prepping are definitely game-changers for healthier eating habits!
    Love your tips, Judee.

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  5. I do not meal plan, same as Angie, I don't stick to it. There is always something that will change what was on the written meal plan. But I like you, have become proficient in getting it done, using the best ingredients for my eating style (organic, cooked ahead etc) and using what I have. I also do not like plastic, but I have found that sometimes it is all that will work in my little house. I love having rice, and pasta ready to go in the freezer, plus it is great for digestion to eat resistant starch. Thanks Judee.

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  6. I admire your c ooking and meals. I am the world's worst cook, or at least one of them. But when I go out for a meal I do try to eat healthy! Hugs,

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  7. I love the idea of meal planning and meal prepping, but it’s rare that I have been able to actually put it into practice. I don’t know what I’m going to want for dinner when I wake up in the morning, I can’t imagine what I am going to want a couple of days hence. I have made salads ahead of time, put them in airtight containers, and they will last the week so that I can just grab one when the mood hits, but that’s the extent of what I’ve done.

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  8. You share so much great information - I relate to falling off the wagon. I guess most of us do. I can't eat a potato chip or a good chewy cookie without wanting lots of more.

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  9. I don't usually meal plan far in advance other than holidays or special occasions. I do wash and somewhat prep all vegetables when I bring them in. It does save a little time when I pull something to cook. When it is just the two of us when I make a large pasta dish like stuffed shells, I put them in separate pans and just assemble the extra and freeze to cook another time instead of cooking the entire pan and freezing leftovers.

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  10. These are all such good tips. I confess, I always have things from which to make meals but I don't always plan ahead in terms of "this on Monday," "That on Tuesday" and so on. I do more planning for holidays and company and such but mostly it's what we decide we want that day, or the night before. But as you suggested, when you have a well stocked freezer or cupboards, t falls into place quite easily! The staples in my house always include salad fixings, broccoli, shrimp, lemon, salmon, pasta fixings, chicken, frozen corn, eggs and rice. But I'll stock up on other meat on sale.

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  11. Thanks you for sharing all these tips. We try to eat healthily but occasionally do fall off the bicycle, especially in the stressful times we live in. Last night we ate ice cream for dinner after an especially hard day. Tonight I will do better!
    Thank you for the idea of adding cumin seeds to my rice. It sounds good!

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  12. I can relate! Meal prep is part of my weekly schedule. I have time set aside for planning, grocery shopping, and prep. It's important to me, because there are several days of the week that, because of work obligations, I simply don't have time to cook. So I need to have prepped, ready-to-go meals to get me through. So thank you for all your tips! I could make use of them all!

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  13. Thanks for this informative post Judee. When I go to the market I select only the freshest in-season veggies, fruits, beans and legumes, grains, and plant-based protein I can find. I fill in with frozen veggies especially during the summer. I prepare a large salad bowl in the morning when it's cooler here and eat half for lunch and half for dinner. Happy Monday and July 1st and be well.

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  14. Hello Judee. Thank you for visiting my blog. It is always good to hear from new blogging friends. Lots of great ideas to help with meal planning and prep here. I like the idea of a themed night to focus meals. I do try and plan meals but it doesn't always work out. Happy July to you.

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  15. Hi, we plan a weekly menu. We sit down on Sunday and plan the week. Right now our garden is blessing us with a lot of home grown goodness!! We are so thankful for that!!!
    Carla

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  16. i use a meal kit plan for my meals, the other days, we eat out. i try not to be too hard on myself, i think i make decent choices, but often when i eat salad i use too much dressing and want a piece of bread or a breadstick or 2. i wonder if it all matters as much as we think it does!!

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  17. These are all great tips! And this part is so clever: "Meal planning and food prepping may be our "meal ticket" to better health and maintaining a healthier weight." As usual, I also enjoyed all the eye-catching pics. 😀🥑🥦🥬

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  18. Oh I feel like I could have written this post word for word! We do pretty good with meal prepping and planning and I try so hard to always have healthy foods ready to go but those times we do start eating out or celebrating birthdays it can be so hard to reign myself back in after because I too start craving the sugar and fat that I normally don't "let" myself eat.

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  19. I rarely prep or plan! TG and I eat simply when it's just us; last night we had large colorful fresh salads and I had made sirloin steak to slice and serve on top, and TG also had a baked potato. I do so much short-term planning for our get-togethers that other planning would not really do me much good. When there is an event on the horizon I devise my menu, go shopping, and get to work! I love it when there are enough leftovers that I don't have to cook again for a day or two, hahahaha! Happy Fourth of July, Judee! xoxo

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  20. I am in awe of those who meal prep. I meal plan. Every weekend I plan the next weeks meals.. this way I know exactly what I need to buy from the store and nothing sits unused and rotting. I love waking up and not having to think about what to cook I just look at my notes and there it is.

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  21. It's smart of you to plan and prep your meals. That saves a lot of time and energy. I know what you mean about eating healthy, and then some happenings come up and we want to indulge once in awhile. And that's Ok, but it's important what you said to get back on track eating healthy. Your stuffed bell peppers made me smile. ; ) My mom used to make them all the time. Haven't made them in awhile.

    Stay cool in these warm summer days.

    ~Sheri

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  22. This is a great thoughtful post with lots of good ideas. I love the idea of prepping but find it hard to find the time even though I know it saves time in the long run. Occasionally I do it but not regularly. But my daughter has been keen on meal planning and now we do that more than I ever have and it helps cut down on food waste and makes our meals interesting. And one of my favourite ways to make cooking dinner easily is to use leftovers creatively. I particularly love leftover roast vegies and grains!

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  23. Judee, this post is one of my features for this week's Weekend Traffic Jam Reboot, thank you for sharing with us!

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Your comments are appreciated. I love knowing who is stopping by to read my posts! Have a great day.

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