I think we can all agree that one of the worst things is when you open your fridge and you feel like there is nothing there. And you just went grocery shopping! Having food in the fridge does not really help unless you make a plan as to how you will use the items bought. It happened too many times that I had ton of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, raw chicken, hummus, eggs etc and I would close to fridge because "there was nothing there". Meaning, there was nothing that was readily available. Everything needed to be prepared and sometimes you just do not feel like it or do not have time to prepare. In order to avoid moments like this, I started preparing certain things on a Sunday night or Monday morning every week. I make sure we have some kind of protein, vegetables, good carbs/starches (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes are some) and salad ingredients (mixed lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers).
By preparing few things in advance you can really have a healthy and wholesome lunch for the days to come. Same thing with snacks! Knowing what you will snack on and having it semi-ready or ready is so important and it really prevents you from reaching for less healthy choices throughout the day.
Below are the simple things I do as we prepare to start the week.
Vegetables-I roast broccoli, cauliflower or mixed vegetables in a sheet pan. Simple seasonings, such as salt, pepper, red paprika and garlic powder. I add sliced onions on top as well. Onions get nicely caramelized and give vegetables really nice crunch and aroma.
I also slice some peppers and wash and cut celery so that I can grab few peppers and some hummus and have a healthy snack any time of the day. How many times did it happen to you that you have a bag of peppers and you are too lazy to wash them or cut them?? Too many in our house!
Good carbs/starches - My very favorite starch is brown rice and I usually make about 3 cups (uncooked) at the beginning of the week. If you store it in the airtight container, it will be nice and fresh for about 3 days. I use the rice cooker, but you can make it the traditional way as well on the cook top.
I save sweet potatoes for dinners because I like them warm and freshly made. If you do not mind eating them the next day, that can certainly be one of the starches you decide to pre-make. At times if I have sweet potatoes leftover from dinner, I eat them as a snack the next day cold with Sriracha.
Protein -We usually grill steak, chicken or turkey but you can choose any meat of your liking. Slicing the meat really helps the next day when you are about to make your lunch! In addition, I prepare simple tuna salad (today's post on the Instagram) that can be either used as a protein on your salad or you can have it over the rice cake as an afternoon snack. I love adding hard boiled eggs to my salads or just having one at snack time so I always cook some eggs as well. My husband goes a step further and he actually peels them and then stores them in the ziplock bag.
Salad mixes - I always have some type of lettuce mix (I like the boxed kind because you do not need to chop or wash, saves time), cucumbers, tomatoes, onions. If you like some other vegetables on your salad, wash them and cut them and store them in a ziplock bag for easy use the next day.
Fruits -We always have apples, bananas, berries and oranges at home. Bananas, I keep some frozen and some fresh. I like to add frozen ones to my shakes. Same with berries. Fresh ones we add to oatmeal in the morning and frozen ones to shakes. Apples with almond butter are a great snack but I do not like pre-cuting apples because they cannot last long and I do not mind cutting them when I need them either. But you can always buy pre-packaged cut apples, they come in single serve packets. Its a great option to take to work like this. Oranges we keep fresh and eat as a snack in the morning or afternoon with a handful of nuts.
Another item that we like to prepare is oatmeal. I use the steel cut oats and just a dash of cinnamon. I usually cook it on the stove top but at times I use my rice cooker (porridge setting). A friend of mine taught me this trick and it works really well! Best part is, if you put it in the rice cooker overnight, you will have it nice and hot for your breakfast! With oatmeal prepared, your breakfast cannot get any easier. Couple scoops of oatmeal, some nuts, few blueberries and dash of honey on top. Delicious and wonderful way to start your day!
With having all of the above prepared ahead, your lunch and snack choices are really limitless. Pick your protein and vegetables and add 1/2-1 cup of your good carb choice. Make a small salad on the side. Feeling like having a salad as a main meal? Take lettuce mix and add tomatoes and cucumbers and top with choice of protein. Sometimes I even do both, add meat and egg. I love avocados so I usually add 1/4 of it to my salad as well. Some people avoid avocados because of the fat content but it is good fat and it actually helps your burn fat (I will come back to this another time). At snack time, chopped peppers/celery/baby carrots and hummus, hard boiled egg, rice cake topped with tuna salad, apples and almond butter.
Until Next Time,