Tag Archives: Meal Prep

Stuffed Peppers = Simple Meal Prep

stuffed peppers

Meal prep is one of those things that should really be a non-negotiable when it comes to staying on track with a healthy lifestyle.

When we take the time to make a menu for the week, purchase the groceries that go with it and even pre-make some meals, we make it easier to avoid takeout and the drive-thru.

One of my favorite meal prep items to make are stuffed peppers. They are flavorful, convenient and tend to portion control themselves (as long as you don’t buy the biggest peppers you can find and overstuff the hell out of them.)

These are some stuffed pepper recipes I have shared on here in the past:

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers
Southwest Style Stuffed Peppers
Santa fe Style Stuffed Peppers

Sometimes I just keep it super simple and skip the recipes. You can just browned up some ground beef with onion & mushrooms, added some cumin, chili, cayenne, garlic, salt and tomato purée. Stuff it into par boiled pepper halves and topped with cheddar cheese. Bake them up and top with a little salsa and guacamole for a tasty low carb lunch.

Stuffed peppers are so versatile and can easily fit into a low carb lifestyle! For the recipes above that contain rice, just use cauliflower rice instead!

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Meal Prep 101

MEALPREP101b
Meal prepping is a life saver for me. It allows me to stay on track with my nutrition goals and it helps to save a lot of time during the week.

By taking some time on a Saturday to make a meal plan for the week and then go grocery shopping, I not only form a plan for my week, but I save money! When you sit down and plan out what you’re going to eat for the week, you take the guess work out of grocery shopping and cut down on impulse buys.

Sundays are typically my prep days. I take the plan I’ve created along with the recipes and go to work in the kitchen. On average, this takes me about 1-2 hours (including clean up) depending on what I am making for the week. That’s not a lot of time when you consider that you’re prepping your entire week. By taking the time to prep, you’ll also never stand in front of the fridge, staring inside of it, wondering what you’ll eat when you’re hungry. That’s in itself makes prepping totally worth it!

MealPrep101

 

Here are some Meal Prep 101 tips to get started:

1. Find what works for YOU.  Some people will shop and prep all of their food for the week in one afternoon. Others find it more manageable to prep the night before for the next day. Meal prepping is all about making YOUR life easier, so experiment and see which method fits your lifestyle best. Personally, I prep enough food on Sundays to make it through to at least Wednesday or Thursday, then I repeat.

2. It’s okay to start small.  If you’re new to food prep, begin with prepping just one series of meals. Think about which meal for the day is your toughest (which one will you most likely skip or grab drive-thru for?) and start there. If breakfast is your downfall, consider whipping up a batch of these Egg Muffins or making some Overnight Oats. Does lunch send you to the drive-thru? Consider prepping some Mason Jar salads or a big pot of Turkey Chili to get you through the week. Once you have mastered that one meal, add on one more!

3. Prep BEFORE putting the groceries away.  If you begin your prep work as soon as you get home from the grocery store, you can save yourself the hassle of having to put everything away twice! You’ll be more motivated to prep foods while they’re still sitting on the counter then you will to have to pull them all out again after you just put them away. I like to wash and chop my vegetables, breakdown family packs of meat (buying family packs is a money saver!) and ration out nuts, fruits and other snack items. By doing this I have snacks and recipes ingredients ready to go when I’m hungry!

4. Keep your meal plan and recipes within arms reach.  This is a habit I got into during my first round of 21 Day Fix. I began hanging my meal plan for the week right on my fridge so I could see it whenever I walked into the kitchen. This kept me organized and on track. If I was hungry, my next meal with right in front of my face (and prepped and waiting in the fridge) and it allowed me to double check I had everything I needed for the next days meals. (Let’s face it…sometimes we think we have garlic or chili powder but we don’t!) 

Click here a printable meal planner to get your started.

5. This is not an all-or-nothing task.  Don’t think you need to wash, chop and pre-cook everything for an entire week in one shot. It’s best to ease yourself into this new habit. Maybe your first step with be making a meal plan and just shopping for it. Next you’ll conquer that one troublesome meal and then maybe you’ll graduate into a half week prep. Prepping and portioning food for cooking later, or even for one weeknight meal is better than doing nothing at all.

If there is one thing I’ve learned over my last five years of trial and error, it’s that mastering one small change before moving on to the next one is key. When you try to change too much at once, you can become overwhelmed and give up on everything.

kitchen tools

Some items you’ll need to successfully meal prep:

  • Glass or plastic containers with lids: Wide mouth mason jars are great options. If you opt for plastic, make sure they’re BPA-free!
  • Ziptop bags: These come in many different sizes and they even make colored sandwich size ones which are PERFECT for 21 Day Fix.
  • Basic Cookware: A skillet, soup pot and at least 2 saucepans should be enough for you to prep. Baking trays /cupcake pans will also come in handy.
  • Measuring Cups/Spoons: These are needed for most recipes and will be important for portion control.
  • Knives/Vegetable Peeler/Grater: Those veggies aren’t going to chop and peel themselves!
  • Aluminum Foil/Plastic Wrap/Parchment Paper: These help to cut down on clean up and as well as storing your prepped meals.

Of course as you embrace working in the kitchen more, you’ll look to add items like a good blender (not the $10 one you can get at Target when Back-to-School dorm life items roll around) and food processor (doesn’t have to be top of the line) as well as a cast-iron pan, griddle or grill pan. Oh and a zoodle maker would be good too….if you’re into that type of thing. The world of kitchen gadgets is never ending and I’d own a lot more if I had a larger kitchen!

I could go on and on about meal prep, seriously! There is so much that can be discussed, but I think this is a really good starting point. I can always do another post with some step-by-step advice as well as some meal prep hacks if you’re short on time. If you would like more info on meal prepping, comment below and let me know!

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{Recipe} Southwest-Style Stuffed Peppers

As I mentioned yesterday, I am starting the 21-Day Fix on Monday, so I tried another recipe I had found on Pinterest.

While trying to make my meal plan, I was searching for recipes that were “Fix Approved” and I stumbled on a few for stuffed peppers. Of course I made a few little changes to make it my own and they ended up being a great meal prep item for quick lunches during the week!

Southwest-Style Stuffed Pepper

Served directly in the storage container!

Southwest-Style Stuffed Pepper
(serves 2: with the following container values 1-Red1-Yellow2-Green and 1/2-Blue)

Ingredients:
2 large Bell Peppers (use whatever color is on-sale or that you like)
1/2 cup Brown Rice, or Quinoa, slightly undercooked
1/4 cup Black Beans, (I used low sodium, organic, canned. Make sure you drain and rinse them well)
1/4 cup Frozen Corn
1 jalapeno, diced (optional)
1.5 cups (about 1/2 lb) browned low-fat ground turkey or beef, seasoned with 21-Day Fix Southwestern Seasoning (or homemade taco seasoning)
1 8-oz can Petite Diced Tomatoes (No sugar added. Should only contain tomatoes and ascorbic acid)
1 8-oz Tomato Sauce (No sugar added. Should only contain tomatoes and ascorbic acid)
1/3 cup of your favorite cheese (I’m dairy-free so I didn’t add this. I opted for avocado)

Directions:
1. Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cook rice or quinoa according to package directions, but cut cooking time a little short since it will continue cooking in the oven.
3. In a large bowl, combine the meat, tomatoes, beans, rice/quinoa, corn and sauce.
4. Cut the tops off of the peppers. Clean out the ribs and seeds and rinse well.
5. Stuff your peppers, making sure to pack them tightly with filling.
6. Sprinkle with cheese (if using)
7. Place in an oven safe tray and bake for 40-45 minutes. (I like to cover mine with a little water in the bottom of the tray so the pepper steam.)

Meal planning and prepping are very important with this program, so recipes like this are perfect. I actually used my containers to measure everything, but I shared the recipe here with the actual measurements. The ground beef or turkey may be slightly over 1/2 lbs. I actually just cooked up the whole 1-lb package and seasoned 2 Red Containers worth after measuring. I put the leftover in a container in my fridge to season however I want when reheating as a quick lunch.

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{Recipe} Asian Meatballs

Monday I’ll be starting a new fitness and nutrition program called 21-Day Fix. I’m really excited to start this, because unlike other programs I’ve done, this one has the focus on nutrition.

Food is one of my happy places. I love searching recipe books and Pinterest for new ideas. Chopping, slicing, sautéing and grilling are stress relieves to me, most of the time. But eating. Eating makes me happy! It always has, which is how I ended up overweight in the first place.

Thankfully, now I eat whole foods that my body needs in order to function. No, its not boring and bland. It’s actually fun to turn those items into things you crave and want to eat.

21-Day Fix skips the calorie counting and food journals by replacing them with a color coded container system. It takes a little planning and organizing, but once you have a menu plan in place (which you can find tons of on Pinterest) it’s pretty straight forward!

This is a really simple recipe that packs a bunch of flavor. These are considered “Fix Approved” despite the use of soy sauce because it can be found in the nutrition guide in one of the dressings. The best part of this recipe is that you can make a double batch and freeze them, so you have a quick lunch or dinner option in a pinch!

Asian Meatballs

These taste just like dumplings!

Asian Meatballs
(Makes 28 meatballs (6 per serving? – 21-Day Fix container info: 1-Red )

Ingredients:
2lbs lean ground meat of your choice (chicken, turkey or pork)
1 inch piece of ginger, chopped (or more depending on your taste)
1/4 cup soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
1 garlic clove, minced
3 scallions, chopped fine

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well until incorporated well.
3. Using a scoop (I used the medium Pampered Chef one), make 28 meatballs and place on a baking tray.
4. Bake for about 25 minutes.

I was able to fit 6 of them into my red container (I cut one in half to use all space in the container…I’m not losing valuable real estate to air). We enjoyed these tasty little morsels with some homemade fried rice and steamed broccoli.

Did I mention that they taste just like dumplings?! Steamed dumplings are one of my favorite Chinese Food treats, but since realizing I have a gluten-sensitivity, I had to give them up. Now I get to enjoy my favorite Asian food and red container too!

Have you done the 21-Day Fix? Do you have a recipe or go-to meal? I’d love to hear about it below.

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