Saved by meal prep!

I have your meal prep solutions for next week. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Decide if you want 1 or 2 meals for lunches.
  • Decide if you want 1, 2 or 3 meals for dinner.
  • Decide which meals you want for which.
  • Bookmark this page for all the shopping, recipes & steps!

This week I actually meal prepped to take examples to my church. I don’t typically do this much of a variety! I am pretty skilled at reusing items in order to make the most of what I buy (#onabudget).

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What’s pictured?

  • Red chili
  • White lightning chili
  • Greek bowls
  • Taco bowls
  • Pinwheels
  • Sammiches

Let’s dig deeper.

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I’m from Texas so it took a long time for me to change my chili over to turkey and beans. In fact, I might’ve been excommunicated, I’m not sure. Nonetheless, having a healthy option that still feels comforting and is super tasty is a MUST for me for a healthy lifestyle.

Shopping list:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 cans Black beans
  • 2 cans Chili beans
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (I double that)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 2 large jalapeños
  • 2 cloves or 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 TBSP Chili powder (or 2 if you’re crazy)
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 2 tsp Oregano
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Choose ONE accessory: Cheese or Greek Yogurt

Recipe:

  • Chop onions, jalapeños, garlic.
  • Dump in with ground turkey & a bit of olive oil. Brown.
  • Add beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin & oregano, salt & pepper.
  • Bring to boil, simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with cheese, chopped green onions and/or tbsp of Greek yogurt.

Meal prep:

  • Put 1.5 cups of chili in microwave-proof container.
  • In a separate container, put ONE accessory (cheese or yogurt).
  • In a separate container, put 2 TBSP green onions.
  • Package all together in one lunch container.
  • This should make enough for you to meal prep for a week and freeze some for emergencies.

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This is one of my favorites of all time!! I had to make it today to use the rest of the chicken from the greek bowl chicken. But I always love to make it anyway.

Shopping list:

  • 1 lb chicken breasts
  • 2 cans great northern beans
  • 2 cans navy beans
  • 2 cans green chiles
  • 2 onions
  • 2 large jalapeños
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 cloves or 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 15 ounces chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder or minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (MUCH more if you’re crazy like me)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cilantro
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Choose ONE accessory: Cheese or Greek Yogurt

Recipe:

  • Boil chicken.
  • Chop onions, jalapeños, garlic.
  • Sauté onion and garlic in hot oil.
  • Shred chicken using forks or stand mixer.
  • Stir in chicken, broth, and 2 cans great northern beans, 1 can navy beans.
  • Coarsely mash remaining can navy beans and stir into chicken mixture.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring often; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
  • Add in spices.
  • Serve with cheese, chopped cilantro and/or tbsp of Greek yogurt.

Meal prep:

  • Put 1.5 cups of chili in microwave-proof container.
  • In a separate container, put ONE accessory (cheese or yogurt).
  • In a separate container, put 1 TBSP cilantro onions.
  • Package all together in one lunch container.
  • This should make enough for you to meal prep for a week and freeze some for emergencies.

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Greek. Meal. Bowls.

That’s fine. Say no more. I am on board.

In this particular situation, I’ve not photo’d the tzatziki sauce, but it will be in your recipe. I mean, it’s just a big bowl of Grecian goodness that will not leave you bored. At all. It is the more complicated of the bunch, but it’s not that bad. We can do this. I mean, we can’t take a photo without my housedress. But we can make and enjoy this.

Shopping list:

  • 1 lb chicken breasts
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 lbs grape tomatoes
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 red onion
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 cup plain low fat greek yogurt
  • Pita bread
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried dill
  • S&P

Recipe:

  • Chop chicken into small pieces. Place in container to marinade with 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 TBSP red wine vinegar, 1tsp oregano, 2 tsp garlic, 1 tsp lemon juice, Cook 2 cups brown rice according to packages.
  • Start/Cook rice according to package.
  • Next, make cucumber salad. Chop & slice 1 & 2/3 cucumbers. Thinly slice 1/2 red onion. Add in 1 TBSP lemon juice, 2 TBSP olive oil, 1 TBSP red wine vinegar, 2 cloves garlic, pressed & 1 tsp dried oregano. Refrigerate.
  • Next, make Tzatziki sauce: Mix 1 cup greek yogurt, 1/3 finely diced (or food processed) cucumber, 1 TBSP garlic, 1 TBSP dill, 1 TBSP lemon juice, salt & pepper. Refrigerate.
  • In hot oil, fry greek chicken mix until done to internal temp of 160.
  • Chop olives, red onion & tomatoes.
  • To make the tzatziki sauce, combine Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, dill, lemon juice, lemon zest and mint in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Drizzle with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld; set aside.
    Divide rice into meal prep containers. Top with chicken, cucumber salad, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce.

Meal prep:

  • Put 1/5 chicken mixture in microwave-proof container.
  • Put 1/5 rice in microwave-proof container.
  • Using 5 small separate containers or baggies, put 1/5 cucumber salad mixture in microwave-proof container.
  • Using 5 small separate containers or baggies, put 1/5 tzatziki mixture in microwave-proof container.
  • Using 5 small separate containers or baggies, put 1/5 olives & tomatoes mixture in microwave-proof container.
  • Using 5 small separate containers or baggies, divide pita bread into 5 small servings.
  • Package all together into 5 separate lunch containers.

This is a fun lunch. It’s ambitious but whimsical. Who wouldn’t want to eat this? Fun pinwheels that are limited only by your imaginations, yummy fruits & veggies. A homemade trail mix that is simple yet will delight your taste buds.

Shopping list:

  • Wraps (either whole wheat or veggie wraps)
  • Deli meat
  • Cheese OR avocado
  • Greenest leafy veggie you can tolerate (Kale, spinach, romaine)
  • Tomato
  • Mustard or sugar free Italian dressing
  • Veggies of choice (shredded cucumber/carrot, pickles)
  • Berries of choice
  • Unsweetened or salted nuts of choice
  • Carrots
  • Sugar free peanut/almond butter

Meal prep:

  • Lay out 5 wraps. Only “prep” 1/2 of the wrap.
  • Drizzle small amount of mustard/dressing on the 1/2 side.
  • Place 4 pieces of deli meat on the 1/2 side.
  • On top of the meat, layer cheese/mashed avocado, spinach, tomatoes & veggies evenly.
  • Roll pinwheel from 1/2 side to clean side.
  • Cut in 1 inch sections.
  • Place pinwheels together in 5 separate meal prep containers.
  • Using 5 small separate containers or baggies, place 1 cup chopped carrots.
  • Using 5 small separate containers or baggies, combine about 10 nuts & 1 cup berries.
  • Scoop out 2 tsp peanut/almond butter into 5 separate containers.
  • Place pinwheels, carrots, nut butters, berry/nut mix together into 5 meal prep containers. Viola!

I’ve thrown this one in there for the person prepping for kids / unable to commit to based on time / food choices. It’s also SUPER budget friendly. EVERYONE can accomplish this. And it’s better than 99% of what you or your kids will get at school / restaurants. I mean…you CAN do this y’all. ZERO cooking required.

Shopping list:

  • Bread
  • No sugar nut butter
  • Low sugar jelly
  • Berries of choice
  • Pineapple
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Hummus

Meal prep:

  • Using two pieces of bread, make 5 PB&Js. Cut each into four triangles.
  • In a separate container, combine 5 1/3 cup berries & 1/3 cup pineapple portions.
  • In a separate container, put 5 2 TBSP hummus portions.
  • In a separate container, put 5 1/2 cup chopped carrots portions.
  • In a separate container, put 5 1/2 cup chopped cucumbers portions.
  • Package all together in one lunch container.

Can you ever go wrong with tacos? With burritos? I don’t think you can. In fact, my husband always compliments this meal!

Shopping list:

  • 1 lb ground turkey or beef
  • 2 TBSP tomato paste
  • 1 can/bag corn
  • 1 can/bag black beans
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 3 large jalapeños
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Brown rice
  • Cheese
  • 2 cloves or 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Chili powder (or WAY more if you’re crazy like me)
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Choose ONE accessory: Cheese or Greek Yogurt or Avocado
  • Optional Dressing: 2 TBSP Herdes salsa + 1 TBSP Mayo

Recipe:

  • Cook 2 cups brown rice according to packages.
  • Mince 3 tomatoes, 2 jalapeños, 1 onion. Add lime juice, Salt & pepper. Place in separate refrigerated container (this is Pico de gallo).
  • Chop 1 onion, 1 jalapeños, garlic.
  • Brown meat in hot oil. Add in & sauté jalapeños, onion and garlic.
  • Season with garlic, chili powder, oregano, S&P. Add in tomato paste. Mix evenly.
  • Sauté (or mix in to above) corn & black beans.
  • Shred cheese to equal 5 ounces or 1 & 1/4 cups (or dice 1 avocado).

Meal prep:

  • Put 1/5 meat mixture in microwave-proof container.
  • Put 1/5 rice in microwave-proof container. Add in corn / beans if needed.
  • Put 1/5 pico de gallo mixture in microwave-proof container.
  • Divide cheese, avocado or even 1 cup greek yogurt into 5 portions for accessories.
  • In a separate container, put ONE accessory (cheese or yogurt).
  • Add in 2 TBSP dressing for each meal if desired.
  • Package all together into 5 separate lunch containers.

Meal prep you can get excited about

God made food to look good, to smell good and to taste good. For some reason, when we turn to eating healthy or meal prepping our recipe repertoire can be boring, basic and bland.

Sometimes that’s okay I guess. Especially if you’re just getting into meal prep or healthy eating and you need a very basic way to get started. Unfortunately, though, it can backfire.

It can backfire as you sit at your desk at work around 10 o’clock. Your mind starts thinking about what you’re eating.

Oh yay. Chicken and broccoli. Again.

That’s when Jim or Pam stops by and asks if you want to go out to lunch with them. All of the sudden that temptation looks a whole lot more tempting.

Adding variety and excitement to your food can really make a difference in your long-term success.

In fact, this weekend I get the privilege of hosting a healthy living table at my church. This fall I’m leading a group of them through a fitness and food group that will hopefully allow them to lead a healthier lifestyle in accordance with their goals. One of the main things I like to teach is that you shouldn’t eat food you hate. So, part of my “advertising” will be some really fun meal prep ideas for them that will bring us back around to healthy food that looks good, smells good and tastes good. I thought I’d share a few of those options with you today!

grekEazy Peazy meals

Greek Chicken Bowls are a great meal prep idea, particularly for beginners! In the beginning, most folks haven’t given up dairy yet and this is a nice way to have it without overdoing it. It’s also mostly raw. You know what that means? It means less time “preparing” your meal prep. It means more time chewing your food, signaling to your brain that you’re not being deprived. It’s also more nutrients for you. Most of all, it looks pretty!

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These shrimp taco bowls are totally colorful, super fast and easy to make and feel like you’ve made it to a restaurant. They’re very balanced with carbs, protein, fats and a little fruit. I mean, who wouldn’t want to eat that? Side note: If you want less carbs, swap the rice for salad greens. I also make a quick & easy dressing for taco bowls out of a little mayo & salsa. It’s super delish!

pinwheels
theeverygirl.com

Pinwheels are always a got to for meal prep for me to share with my family or my clients. They seem fun because they’re finger food. They seem filling because the wrap seems like bread. Plus you can be endlessly creative with them! Wrap (basic tortilla to a spinach & sun dried tomatoes wrap), protein (deli meat of choice or a variety), veggie (spinach, lettuce, thinly sliced carrots, tomatoes, peppers, pickles), fat (cheese, avocado, olives or hummus) and a sauce (mayo, mustard, Italian dressing, etc). You can be your own Subway sandwich artist. Top with raw fruits and veggies and you’ve got a fun, interesting, super not boring lunch.

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Why go out for Asian food? You can make so many delicious and nutritious variations on your own at home and then have something to look forward to all week without the drive through headache. I like to make chicken fried cauliflower rice these days.  Of course, you can always go the brown rice way and just add in more veggies. Finally, you can choose to do half and half of rice and cauliflower rice! All you have to do is make the rice. Then stir fry veggies in oil. Then add in rice & a couple scrambled eggs. Mix it all up with soy sauce and ginger and other spices. That’s FRIED RICE y’all! That simple! Add in orange chicken or beef & broccoli and you’ve got a full on meal. Add in Sriracha and green onion to make it look pretty!

sandwiches
Damndelicious.net

If you really want to keep it simple and you’re not ready to say goodbye to sandwiches yet, check out this fun option! And, if you’re going to have crappy carbs, you may as well have them for lunch so they can burn off throughout the day! Add in a variety of fresh (aka no cooking required) fruits and veggies and this is the fastest meal prep ever!

There you go! Five options for meal prep that will have you excited. You’ll be sitting at your desk thinking,

I can’t wait for lunch!

5 Elements of Harmony (for women married w/ kids)

My girls are watching Saturday morning cartoons, My Little Pony to be exact. I heard something about “Elements if Harmony,” and being the nerd I am, it piqued my curiosity.

Or maybe it’s just that I am not feeling harmonious at the moment. I worked too many hours, my husband’s been gone and off the grid all week, the kids finished school this week and I did not eat well last night so my gut is wrenched in pain this morning.

Yeah, not harmonious.

So, I of course Googled the ponies and what their elements of harmony are.

  • Magic.
  • Honesty.
  • Kindness.
  • Laughter.
  • Generosity.
  • Loyalty.

It made me think about what my elements of harmony are. Then I realized, I already knew, I’d come up with them years ago! They were just hiding as goal sets.

  • Faith.
  • Family.
  • Fitness.
  • Fun.
  • Finances.

Faith.

Faith is the first element of harmony for me. Have you ever heard of the Israelite cycle? I mean, that’s not the technical term, but I’m no theologian. The Israelite cycle refers to how we read the Old Testament and watch the Israelites come back to God, and everything’s so good and awesome. Then they go back to serving idols and sin. Things get worse and worse until they finally turn back to God. And then poof! Things are good again. We see it from a distance and think, they’re kind of dense. How can they not see this cycle?

We have the same cycles in our lives though, I know I certainly do. Every once in a while I’ll wonder why things seem so hard lately. Not just regular hard, but swimming-upstream-holding-a-baby-hard. Where it seems like it’s coming from every angle and it just doesn’t make sense (it’s almost laughable) how hard things are.

That’s usually about the time I realize I’ve stopped leaning on God like I need to. When I realize I’ve been trying to do it alone. I realize my faith is out of harmony. When I hook back up to my power source, things don’t necessarily get instantly better, but my ability to handles them certainly does. In fact, it’s like poof! My entire perspective and attitude are different. And it’s like 🤦‍♀️. Shana, you’re just like the Israelites, minus golden calves.

Family.

Next up is family. I’ll tell you, even as a stay at home mom, this one being in second place is tough. It’s tough because sometimes I put it first and then I fall wearily flat on my face. It’s also tough because as an entrepreneur I can sometimes put other things before my family (mostly my marriage) but also enjoying my family. I’ve learned to keep them in this order, in priority, in order to keep harmony.

That’s not to say I’m a maid on call all the time. It just means I make sure I’m present with my family when we are together. It means I prioritize the when and the way I spend time with them. It means the home they live in and the food they eat are a priority too. Things that make my family feel out of harmony are:

  • Being in separate places in the world. This is inevitable as a military family. And I do enjoy affording my kids the opportunity to go elsewhere and learn and be with others. But I just don’t sleep as well as I do when they’re all in my house.
  • An unclean home. I’m NOT OCD trust me. But I realized I can’t truly relax and enjoy my family if the home isn’t in decent order. I don’t spend more than 30 minutes most days on upkeep, it it’s a definite priority. And my family helps. We have a work hard, play hard philosophy. And none of us are quite at the top of our games if the home isn’t cleanish.
  • Quality time ain’t happening. When we are rushed, when we are all in our own little worlds, that’s when I feel out of harmony. I’m an only child, so I relish my alone time. However, we are a family. And we do things together as a family. On purpose, not according to other people’s agendas. So, if we aren’t doing that, I feel off.

Fitness.

Fitness encompasses my mental health, my rest and, duh, my physical fitness. I’ve finally learned, after all these years, that this is such an important priority. I walk into the gym a lion, I come out like a lamb. It makes me a better mother, wife and overall human.

When I get enough rest, I literally feel like I can take on the whole world. I’m pretty stubborn about my ten minute cat naps in the afternoon. Not because I’m lazy but because it’s like a brain reset each day. I get up less stressed, more focused and rejuvenated.

Likewise, going to the mental gym is a big one for me. Putting good things in my brain, thinking about big ideas, how I can improve myself, self-correcting if I’m being mean to myself are all part of getting my mind right.

Fun.

Somewhere along the road, I apparently adopted the idea that being a married, adult woman with three kids meant I wasn’t allowed to do things I like to do. I know that sounds crazy and younger me needed therapy. But I bent my will so hard for everyone else, I rarely did just what I wanted to do in my late 20s and earlier 30s.

In my book I write about my nap time epiphany. I’ll tell you, once I took some time to just do me and what I wanted to do, I noticed immediately it was like a baptism of joy. Like, whoa! It completely changed the game and now I now if I don’t get time for fun (doing what I want to do) and friends (this is another f word, but I tuck it in fun) then things are definitely out of harmony. My husband knows this too, he’s seen the reward of a Shana who’s had some fun. So he is always gracious about letting this pony run. (Pam Tillis)

I definitely have to work hard for fun. In fact, of all of them, it’s probably the one I struggle with the most, even though I know the rewards. It’s another cycle, one best described by T-Boz.

Every now and then, I get a little easy,

I let a lot of people depend on me

When I force myself to have some fun, it all comes back into balance. I have standing dates with friends like weekly coffee. I have once a month friend dates prescheduled because if I don’t, I won’t. But I need to.

Finances.

For me, finances are all about work and money. I have an entrepreneurial heart. I love my work. So much that I would put it all the way at the top. I’ve never had a job I didn’t like. I’ve been working since I was 14. I’ve had like ten different careers. It’s fine. I’m working on it. I remember a few years into our marriage, my husband went off to training for a few months. I had just landed my dream job (at that time). I got to build our training program from scratch. And I got to pick my team. Y’all, I was in heaven. It was glorious. I was working 12-14 hour days. Because I wanted to. There was no requirement. There was no deadline. No one even knew I was working that much! Except my husband. He came home and was like…Shana, this is not normal. It was a first of many red flags. God certainly gave me Chris to help me figure out how to balance this fire I have inside. I have a really hard time just relaxing. Or just being. Or staying still in the home I pay a lot of money for. Slowly, he has helped me try to find some balance with my ambition and my priorities. On the contrary though, if I’m not working on something I feel passionate about I’ll also feel out of balance. I’ll look like Branch from Trolls.

Copyright Dreamworks.

That was another hard fought lesson for me. I’ve gone back and forth with work since becoming a mom. I think we all probably do. I’ve learned that I’m in harmony when my family comes first but I am also doing work that lights me up.

The other part of finances for me is security. Dave Ramsey says women like to feel secure when it comes to finances and he is right. It’s like the day when I go grocery shopping and my pantry is full and my fridge is full, I feel SO GOOD. How weird is that? Like, I can go to the grocery store any day. For some reason, having loads of food at home, ready to nourish my family makes me feel secure!

And so it is with my finances. When money is out of whack, I feel out of harmony. On the contrary, when we know where our money is going and those places are in alignment with our family goals, I feel good!

So those are my elements of harmony (we typically hear this as “balance” these days).

What are yours? Did any of that ring true for you too?

If you liked this post, please comment & share!


Attempting to achieve harmony without systems is futile. Listen to me as a recovering stubborn system refuser. I’ll be leading 10 women through a 90 day mastermind planning group where we will attempt I get all of that 👆🏻out of heart and into a plan. Join us, it will help you. It’s only for 90 days, what do you have to lose?
 
35 Theme Menu ideas to make meal planning easier!

Theme menus!

Meal planning is the key to healthy eating and eating on a budget. It’s also the key to de-stressing your life. You exchange time for peace. You invest time, say, on Sunday to plan what you’re going to eat. That way on Thursday night you don’t have to worry about what is for dinner as you’re driving to soccer practice. You’re already stressed and having to figure out dinner is a bummer. That might mean you spend more time and money at a drive thru.

MEAL PLANNING TO THE RESCUE! It’ll help you in those moments. It can be tough to get started though. Theme menus are a great way to brainstorm ideas and to give you some training wheels as you try something new.

If it works for Sheldon on Big Bang Theory, it can work for us! With a little adjustment. He had Thai on Monday, Cheesecake Factory on Tuesday, Thursday Pizza night and Friday was Chinese takeout night.

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I have three kids and a budget. I also don’t have his metabolism. My first theme Menu looked like this:

Monday: Chicken

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday

Wednesday: Salmon (me), Macaroni & Cheese (kids) and Broccoli (all)

Thursday: International day (unstuffed egg rolls or Korean beef or Stir Fry or Pasta)

Friday: Pizza movie night!

Saturday: Soup or grill

Sunday: Crockpot meal

Here are 35 different Theme Menus idea that might help make your meal planning a little easier. You could plan out much more than a year if you wanted to try them all without repeating too often!

Themes by day of the week are popular, especially if they include alliteration:

  1. Taco Tuesday (My love of the Lego Movie requires I mention this first).
  2. Meatless Monday.
  3. Meatloaf Monday.
  4. Mexican Monday (fajitas, enchiladas, empanadas, anything will do except Menudo. Just no).
  5. Make Ahead Monday. (Freezer meals–helps deal with manic Monday)
  6. Take out Tuesday.
  7. Pizza Friday.
  8. Throwback Thursday (leftovers) .
  9. Slow Cooker Sunday (It’s easier to relax if you don’t have to tend to cooking!).
  10. Smokin’ Saturday (Grill! BBQ!).
  11. Souper Saturday (Winter alternative to grilling on Saturday).
  12. Nacho night (I’m game for this to be ANY night of the week).
  13. Something new Sunday.

Category Themes:

  1. Breakfast for dinner!
  2. Casserole night.
  3. Burger night.
  4. Sheet pan dinners (I love one dish meals).
  5. One pot dinners (this is particularly great with the Instant Pot).
  6. Salad / raw food night.
  7. Chili night (there are SO many varieties!)
  8. Bowl night (think Chipotle!)
  9. Sandwiches.
  10. Bar night / DIY night (There are so many things that are DIY-able like a Taco Bar, a Baked Potato Bar, Salad Bar, Frito Pie bar, Mashed Potato Bar, Chili bar).
  11. Kid choice night (This can be an opportunity for fun and also more work soooo).
  12. Traditional foods (things you ate or your parents ate as a kid…old school).
  13. Fend for yourself night (Mamas, this is a top choice if your kids are older).
  14. Zero-Based Pantry night (Like a zero based budget, at the end of the month you clean out the fridge/pantry and eat whatever is left for dinner!).
  15. Keto night.
  16. Paleo night.
  17. Low carb night.
  18. Vegetarian night.
  19. Vegan night.
  20. Whole 30 night.

You can also theme around certain foods in order to ensure variety. Proteins & starches are good choices to theme around. You keep the same basic item, use different recipes to keep it new and fresh!

  1. Chicken, seafood, beef, vegetarian, pork, turkey.
  2. Pasta (spaghetti, chili mac, Alfredo), rice (chicken fried, sticky, paella, risotto) beans (chili, bean soup), potatoes (baked, diced, mashed), bread/toast/sandwiches, tortillas (tacos, quesadillas).

Now, here are two additional resources for you on the topic of meal planning:

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A Printable to make your own theme menu! Just shoot me your email below and it’ll be in your inbox!

 

 

 

A video that shows you how I meal plan.

I’d love to help you come up with a meal plan! I’d love to help you on your fitness journey! Just reach out and let’s get started.

 

Learning lessons with White Chicken Chili


I made white chicken chili today. I’m posting the recipe here as well as a few tips that go with the territory!!

White chicken chili

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked chicken
  • Garlic (6 cloves worth)
  • 3 cans northern beans
  • 40 ounces of chicken broth
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/3 cup fresh jalapenos, chopped
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 2TBS Southwestern seasoning
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • Avocado/cheese

Instructions:

Drain all cans of beans, set one aside in bowl. Add garlic to bowl, mash bean mixture together. Allow oil to warm in dutch oven/pot then add onions & jalapenos. Let cook for 4-5 minutes until onions translucent. Add in chicken, bean mix, beans, broth, seasoning and lime juice. Bring to a boil reduce and simmer for 25 minutes. Snip cilantro and stir into chili just before serving. Add cheese and/or avocado as desired.

Portion Fix: 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 blue (if you add cheese and avocado)


Tip #1: Give them the goods. My husband eats what I eat. But I add cheese for him or sometimes crackers or something. That way I’m not cooking twice but I can still stay on the 21 Day Fix.


Tip #2: When you make a recipe, automatically double or triple it every time. When you do, you’ve “meal prepped” lunches or lazy Sunday leftovers! Good job you!!!! =D

Tip #3: Many recipes, like this one, originally called for rotisserie chicken. I’m telling you that’s an option if there IS NOTHING ELSE but it’s loaded with sodium and preservatives so it’s not the best choice. Instead, poach 2-3 chicken breasts and shred them. Much healthier and not difficult. Then I even use my stand mixer to shred them.

 

Creating the margin

I meant to write this post like…SUNDAY. Today is Wednesday. But there was no margin!

Huh? Margin, say what? Sunday’s message at church was about creating a margin so that you can BREATHE and ENJOY life. So many of us are rushing around from this thing to that thing to the next thing that life just flies by and we are exhausted at the end of the day. But worse than that, we aren’t really getting to ENJOY each and every moment we are given here on earth with all of these people we love. And that’s lame. Super lame.

  
I am SO SUPER susceptible to this because I like to do all the things and as my husband likes to remind me-I’m almost incapable of saying no. But I’m working on all of it right, add it to my list!

  
A few years ago my friend laughed at me when I said I’d never be as busy as her. She has like a million kids and I watched her gracefully juggle doing all the cool things with them all the time. Well now I have a million kids and the tables have turned.

  
In fact, I had to get used to having three kids with my husband gone last year. And being the slight ridiculous control freak I am, I really struggled in the beginning of mother-of-three-hood. Lots of struggle later, I found what works for me.

  1. I bulk the workloads.
    • I do a MAJOR cleaning session Monday and Friday. I’m kind of laughing because it’s not that major. But I do reset the weekend clutter, clean the bathrooms, sweep & mop and fully wipedown the kitchen. But only on Monday and Friday. It ends up being about an hour maybe an hour and half of work.
    • I ONLY do laundry on Wednesday and Sunday. I do it all at once, I finish it all and I say screw you laundry, I’ll see you in a few days. Pairing down the ridiculous amount of clothes we have (Kon Mari style OR 7 of each style, pick your fancy) AND making the kids/dad rewear pajamas (duh, but this was something we had to train) three days in a row has helped.
    • Last but DEFINITELY NOT least-I meal prep. Lots of people do this now, so it’s not something super new. But still others say, “I don’t have time to meal prep.” HAH! You don’t have time NOT to meal prep if you’re that busy. I have a meal prep post over here for specifics but let me just say…meal prep means most of your cooking, most of your planning, most of your dishes and most of your clean up is done in ONE FELL SWOOP. So…i’m no longer rushing to make lunches or breakfasts each day. I’m not having a huge load of dishes at night because I make every dinner from scratch. I’m not wondering at 5 p.m. what we’re going to have for dinner. I PROMISE it’s a time/sanity saver.
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      No brain work involved all week for lunch!
       
  2. I make time in the absence of time.
    • Last year my word was Thrive…I wanted everyone to thrive and get better and be awesome. For my son, that meant taking up piano lessons. He loves it and he is pretty good at it. HOWEVER-it was a weekly, scheduled, had to be somewhere-collect papers-added expense-with a new baby thing. Needless to say, it drove me crazy. I can’t even explain why…but I had to go somewhere everyday at 3 and that stressed me out. SO, I decided to see it as a gift of 30 minutes. In the beginning my friend and her daughter would be there so it was 30 minutes of catching up and play time. So that was cool. Other times it provided the small time I needed for a quick trip to Walmart. Other times I’ve managed, somehow, to catch a few winks of sleep. Anyway, I see that 30 minutes of time as a block that I can accomplish something-even if it’s just one-on-two with my daughters. Now the middle rascal has gymnastics on Thursdays so I use that hour to practice PIYO, go for a run, chase Ayla and visit with friends I probably wouldn’t see otherwise. What a winning combination!
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      Yesterday at gymnastics inspent half the time practicing piyo/studying and half playin withthese cuties.
       
  3. I schedule the margin.
    • 2:30 p.m. is quiet time for the entire family. Believe it or not, I typically catch a 20 minute nap/siesta at this time of day. But it’s scheduled and everyone knows it! It’s part of our routine. And everyone needs that security, the known downtime-especially my 7 year old who has such a ridiculous schedule from school.
    • I need a moment to myself in the morning before I have to put on my cape and be super mom. I remember throwing a FIT when I realized I would have to get up to get Zach to the bus stop at 6:20 a.m. regardless of the sleeping schedule my new baby had given me. Yes, a fit. But now I’ve embraced the madness so much that I typically get up at 5 a.m. so I can have some quiet time/me time before Zach gets up at 5:30. It’s a game changer, I promise that!
    • Here’s the BIG kicker that I learned-maybe everyone else already knew it-last year. I now allow for a LOT of pre-go prep time. So, if we need to leave at 9 we start getting ready at 8. Everyone gets dressed, presentable, gathers what they need to go and-curveball!-cleans/resets the house a bit before we leave. I really try to have as much buffer between events/leaving/going as possible because I was tired of saying “hurry up” and I know I am NOT NICE when I’m in a hurry.
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  4. Embrace the margin. I think the margin is where life really happens. Where time stands still (how long have we been playing hide and go seek?), where we can enjoy all that we’ve created and worked hard for. 

 

Best wishes finding that margin! And as always-practice giving yourself grace! You’re doing great, you are enough!! 😘😘😘

How to eat healthy and avoid making your family hate you at the same time

Making the whole gang breakfast, lunch and dinner can be a daunting task any way you slice it (I’m so funny). Adding in a lifestyle change to healthy eating can bring with it a learning curve.

Just because you decide to go healthy and make awesome choices for you and your health does NOT always mean those immediately around you will support that choice. In fact, you might be confronted with lots of whining, eye rolling and other generally discouraging behavior.

HOWEVER, it’s important to stick to your guns and stay the course. Very often, your progress and positive influence will bring them around-that is the end game!! But maybe not immediately. In the meantime, try to blend your new awesome habits with your family’s trenched-in habits.

Here are six strategies to fake it til you make it:

 

Make it a salad.

One of the first things I noticed once I really started paying attention was how much bread/lame carbs my family ate. I actually think I overcompensated for being a mediocre cook by ensuring there was yummy bread/potatoes/etc at every meal.

Once you’ve set them up with that amazing habit, they will not easily want to give it up! But, if you’re serious, you certainly can. Take your scrumptious meals and load them onto some spinach or romaine. This way you can still make one meal, but you can also not ingest those crappy carbs right before bed (hello fat!).

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Here are some examples:

  • Taco night for them = taco salad for you.
  • Sloppy joe night =sloppy joes on crisp romaine leafs.
  • Meatball subs = Meatballs & marinara on-wait for it-crisp romaine leafs.
  • Pulled pork is delicious enough, you don’t NEED the bun.
  • Do the same for meals you might normally put over noodles or mashed potatoes. 

It’s not rocket science but it is a small change that will yield big results.

Add on the junk-FOR THEM.

My kids eat decently but we take our cues from Mary Poppins.

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So, good food = medicine. Ketchup, ranch, post dinner cookie = sugar. See what we’ve done here? Others are probably better about this than I am. But I’m still on this journey and for me, getting chicken, salmon, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower down their gullets is what matters most, if there is a little something EXTRA I can live with that.

For the older eaters in the family, this might mean a little extra butter, a creamy sauce, cheese or some other such shenanigans. Just make your plate before adding this stuff in. And if it comes up, I also bake my chicken/fish without breading. But I bake it right alongside theirs. No more or less work. #winning

 

Nix the crap.

Make the same meals you always did, just nix the crap-FOR YOU. Just make the decision that you are a strong confident woman and do it.

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Don’t make enough for you. Dish the crap out to your families plates (sounds so evil, but remember, we will bring them around) so you won’t be tempted. This is the primary reason I only buy the regular size macaroni & cheese. If I went family size there’d be enough for me to eat it. But this way, they are fighting over it and-honestly-it also keeps their portions low.

  • Kung Pao chicken, rice & steamed veges. (we can talk about rice, but let’s just not have it for dinner for now, ok)
  • Steak and baked potatoes green beans.
  • Breakfast tacos unstuffed: Leave out the tortilla and hash browns, add less cheese.

 

Always have something worth fighting for.

This trick is mostly for the little ones. But it also works on the overgrown ones too. Let’s say you’re on the 21 Day Fix and your amazing meal plan (you’re welcome) has offered you salmon and broccoli. Your family can eat that. Maybe they won’t, I don’t know. But you know broccoli and macncheese go together just fine. So, make ONE meal but feed them the macaroni as an incentive. My kiddos get one scoop until they finish the “good stuff” and then they can have the rest. But that incentive works really nice.

This is an important concept if you’re trying to bring your family on board. Try to always have something on that plate that you know they already love. It makes the other stuff worth fighting for.

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Make it easy and accessible.

Once you make the leap, you likely ingest a lot of information so you can really begin to understand what clean(ish) eating is all about. Your family might still be in the dark. So even if they WANT to help you or join you, they might not know how. This is where meal prep can come in. Make it obvious and EASY. If you have cooked chicken, veges, fruit and whatever else readily available in the fridge, that will increase everyone’s success rate. When you manage to get everyone on board and healthy habits are abounding, you can back off. But in the beginning, it’s important to be OVER PREPARED. That means stocking your fridge and pantry with:

  • Pre cooked, pre-portioned meals (i.e.chicken, veges and sweet potato)
  • Pre sliced, portioned vege snacks (carrots, celery, edamame, sweet peppers)
  • Ready made snacks (i.e. deli/cheese roll ups, yogurt & berries, oatmeal muffins, pre-portioned nuts)
  • Plenty of easily consumed fresh fruit (apples, bananas, pears)
  • Fresh fruit snacks made easy (orange slices, washed strawberries & grapes, diced pineapples
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Hat tip.

Educate them!

Each person in your household has different motivations, find out what they are and use those to your advantage. My son wants to know all the whys/science/facts.

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So I try to give it to him, even though I often wonder if he even understands. But he certainly regurgitates it, so I guess some of it is getting through. My middle daughter just wants to be as big as her brother and do awesome at gymnastics. So we talk about how the food makes her strong and her bones grow taller and muscles get bigger. My baby girl has no choice in the matter and pretty much eats anything I put in front of her (proof that I accidentally taught my bad habits to the older ones, oops). 

My husband is more interested in not taking on any of the genetic medical issues we both have in our family, so that motivates him-however begrudgingly he might admit it. Sarcasm helps too.

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There you have it, hopefully these little strategies will help you be successful with healthy habits while avoiding being strangled in your sleep by the ol’ familia.

Meal prep

Okay today let’s talk about meal prep/planning. I know it can seem overwhelming or even soul-crushing. LOL. I choose not to see it that way. Here’s how I look at it:
  • It saves time throughout the week. Meals are ready to go! (Meal prep is the new fast food.)
  • It saves guesswork throughout the week. No wondering what everyone is going to eat.
  • It saves money one by cooking from scratch but also from going out in a pinch.
  • It’s fun. I put music on and maybe even add in a glass of wine. Once I commit to it, I enjoy it.
  • It’s a great way to be active on the weekend. It gets you off the couch and gets you mentally prepared and ready for the coming week.
  • It’s good family time. Chris grills and the kids help pack their lunches. We do it together and we all have buy in for what we are eating. It’s empowering but it’s also a way to teach/learn about nutrition and healthy habits.
So, with that said let me lay out my process. Everyone does it differently according to what works for them.
  •  I do one meal at a time. I am a “great” multitasker but not the best finisher. So I have to MAKE myself finish one thing at a time. That way if I do get interrupted or side tracked, something might’ve gotten done! That means doing the dishes too.
  • First I bake oatmeal muffins and/or pancakes for the week/month depending on how ambitious I am feeling. Everyone but me eats them for breakfast. I also used to bake egg muffins for the week as well. But I like them fresh and once I got the habits down I was able to work back to having time/willpower to make my eggs, toast and spinach each day. Everyone but me eats their oatmeal whatever, fruit and greek yogurt for breakfast (except on the weekends when I make breakfast tacos and french toast).
  • Then I season/cook the meats and veges for the week. That typically means chicken breasts and lean hamburger meat. The chicken breasts I usually use kickin’ chicken by weber and the meat is either chicago steakhouse by the same or fajita seasoning (sliders or fajita bowls). Veges get olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Pack lunches.
  • Kids: Every other day, the kids get meat (With ranch or ketchup, go with what works!), cheese, vege (typically green beans/broccoli/carrots), fruit (grapes/pineapple/unsweetened applesauce) and some sort of carb (crackers typically). On the off days they get PB&J (healthiest bread they will stand/I can afford. Zach WILL eat Ezekiel bread along with sugar free/natural as possible pb&j) along with the fruit & vege.
  • Adults: Meat & vege. That means either chicken and veges (Squash/broccoli/etc) or burrito bowl with veges like onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, etc). Chris gets double meat & veges and a carb (rice, bread, pita) because he is two calorie levels up.
  • We get everything prepped/organized/planned for dinners. I typically cook dinner each night but when I don’t I will prep freezer meals whether they are going in the crockpot OR in the oven.
  • Finish dishes, put everything away, take picture and pat myself on the back. LOL
That’s how I do it. What are your tips, strategies, ideas, questions?
Here are some links for how other people do it as well! I am fascinated by this process because I’m weird. Maybe you’d like to read about how others do it too. I love meal prep pictures. Organization porn is my weakness.
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Meal Planning

So you have a lot of containers to eat in one day, don’t you think?

The basic idea is we are using the containers to measure our food portions. Bear with it, I know it’s an extra step but we are here to learn and get healthy habits!

The best way to do it is to think of it like this:

Breakfast: 1 red, 1 purple, 1 yellow, 1 blue (2 scrambled eggs w/ cheese or avocado, oats & strawberries)

Snack: 1 purple & 1 red (Shakeology w/ fruit or Yogurt & fruit)

Lunch: 1 red, 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 orange (Taco salad w/ beans & olives)

Snack: 1 green (Carrots, cucumbers, etc)

Dinner: 1 red, 1 green (Steak and green beans)

Essentially you’re trying to get as many colors in each meal while also being as TOP HEAVY as you can stomach. I say that because a lot of people don’t like to eat breakfast. Eating a FULL breakfast as early as you can upon waking is a killer fat loss method. But I know not everyone is ready for that yet! =D

So, you can choose to menu plan yourself. OR you start by using plans I’ve provided.

MENU PLANNING
✔️Step 1: Pick your breakfasts & your shakeology recipes. (I start with breakfasts because it’s the easiest)
✔️Step 2: Plug them into menu plan according to fix portion counts.
✔️Step 3: Write out ingredients for both in shopping list.
✔️Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3 for dinners. I do dinner next because you will probably use some dinners for lunches and your dinners usually affect the entire family so it’s best to plan those first.
✔️Step 5: Repeat steps 1-3 for lunches.
✔️Step 6: Repeat steps 1-3 for snacks paying close attention to what you need to get in all your containers for the day.
✔️Step 7: Add in whatever you need for the rest of the family/household so you only shop once. 🙂
—I suggest picking just one or two NEW recipes each week so you don’t get stressed out trying new things.—