2015 brings us a fresh start to a brand new year. A new you. A time to get serious about your health commitments. Maybe you’ve done some research on the best ways to tackle your goals, or maybe you follow a few fitness bloggers or enthusiasts on Instagram and Facebook. Chances are you’ve come across some incredibly fit individuals who take pictures of their meal prep for what looks like an entire month, something like this:
It was probably this exact picture that turned me off from prepping my food ahead of time. For one, I’m not trying to eat the exact same thing every day. Two, how is that food even still good by the end of the week? Finally, I don’t have room in my fridge for all of that. I decided I would keep things interesting by cooking dinner every night and make enough to take leftovers the next day.
But then things got really busy.
Now, most days of the week, I’m out of my apartment before 6am and not getting home until 9pm. Cooking dinner or even making lunch so early in the morning just became a seemingly impossible feat. With a typical NYC lunch costing $10-$15, and being so controlling about the food that enters my body, I felt stuck. It was time to give meal prep a try.
With such a busy schedule and wanting to get a list of errands done every weekend, I didn’t even want to marinate my own meats or bake a whole chicken on a Sunday evening.
This is where Trader Joe’s has saved my life. There is not one grocery store that I have been to that sells the same kind of quality, flavorful, unique, and most importantly, inexpensive foods. Here’s what I buy there:
They have a bunch of different marinated meats like pollo/carne asada, sundried tomato chicken, pesto chicken, curry chicken, and more. I usually buy one of each. For veggies, I buy pre-cut broccoli (I feel too lazy to even cut my own broccoli these days, but feel free to buy the whole head if you’re feeling ambitious) kale, mushrooms, bok choy, and brussel sprouts. These are just some of my favorite kinds of veggies, pick the ones you like along with some fresh fruits, and nuts. Sometimes I just buy the kale and then get the other veggies later in the week when i’m ready to cook them so that they’re fresh. I also keep several items in the house at all times to fill in the gaps like onion, avocado, and tomatoes.
When you’re ready to prep, just defrost the meat and sauté it in a pan. This literally took me 10 minutes and gave me the most tender and flavorful chicken i’ve ever had. It gave me about 8 pieces of chicken, smaller than a full breast which was perfect for lunch. Then I cooked the whole bag of broccoli, which took less than 10 minutes as well. When the food was cooled, I put all of the chicken in a big container and all of the broccoli in another. In the morning, I get tupperware, grab a piece of chicken and some broccoli – boom. Lunch is done. For breakfast/snacks i’ll pack some almonds, fruit, and some sliced peppers. On day two, cut up some of that chicken and put it over a bed of kale with a little onion, avocado and tomato for a big, healthy salad. Day three, put the chicken in a wrap with some more kale and feta. Day 4, get a new veggie, maybe some brussel sprouts, bake them for 30 minutes with olive oil, salt and pepper and you’ve got another meal. Tired of chicken? Make some chicken salad with the leftovers, cook up your carne asada and keep it going.
At the end of the day, you don’t need to pack your fridge full of separated, boring, tupperware meals. You don’t even need to spend an entire weekend day cooking for the week. We’re all busy bees in New York, but if I can cook at home for the week, so can you. You’ll save 100’s of dollars monthly, you’ll eat healthier and feel better about life in general.
Sydney Stargatt Certified Health Coach & CPT