Planning for the Week Ahead

Welcome to the weekend, friends!

Two big things happened this week: I started my new job (YAY!) and we got new windows in our house (double YAY!). A less big, also known as smaller, thing happened this week – I joined Anytime Fitness.

I am sharing about the windows just because I am so dang excited about them & happy with the way they turned out. The old windows were original to the house (or at least seemed like it) and many didn’t even open anymore. So having fresh air flow through these new windows is currently my little slice of heaven. (Maybe I need to get out more?) BUT the other two things that happened this week (job & gym) were the source of inspiration for this post. 

There are two types of meal prepping IMO:

  1. Making ALL of your meals ahead of time (let’s say on Sunday for example) so you can grab & go all week
  2. Prepping ingredients & making CERTAIN things to make cooking throughout the week easier

I participate in both of these types of meal preps, it just depends on how much time (or energy) I have on the weekend & what our schedule for the week looks like. I burnt myself out a bit on the entire week meal prep, so lately I have been implementing new strategies to make cooking meals throughout the week easier and less time consuming. (Which means we are more likely to cook rather than eating out.) Also, I can eat leftovers with the best of them – but sometimes I just want a fresh meal for dinner. SO, that’s what today’s post is. Three things you can be doing today & tomorrow (or even during the week) to make cooking easier on yourself. Because isn’t that a great goal?!

  1. FIRST – above all else: MEAL PLAN. By now you have (I hope) seen one of my Instagram posts with my EAT meal planner. I love it. It’s cute, magnetic, and provides an actual purpose. (Unlike a lot of other things I buy from Amazon.) I plan out our upcoming week’s meals as early as Thursday sometimes – but I certainly don’t expect you to get as jazzed up about this as I do, so even if you write it out in the parking lot of your grocery store THAT’S GREAT. The goal here is to get your brain into meal mode – rather than just grocery mode. It helps you save money since you aren’t just wandering around picking out things that look good at that moment & makes shopping A LOT faster. DISCLAIMER: I would say I end up making about %60 of the meals I plan out. This is due to a number of things – the grocery store doesn’t have the ingredients I need (HY-VEE, I’m looking at you – WHERE IS THE SPAGHETTI SQUASH LATELY?!), I forget to buy something even though I have a list right in front of my face, I found a different recipe I want to try, OR we just don’t feel like having what we planned to make. Regardless, don’t sweat it! Plans change right? Roll with it! (My husband probably read that and said – “Shauna, you are the last person who should be telling people to roll with a change in plans.”) ANYWAY, the meal plan is just a guideline, but it has helped me immensely not only with shopping BUT with the other things I’m going to talk about. Because how can you prep ingredients if you don’t know what you’re making? AMMIRIGHT??
  2. Cook any protein that you will be adding to meals. For us this usually means browning ground meat (beef, turkey and/or pork) and cooking/shredding chicken breasts. These proteins can be added to SO many things: casseroles, hashes, scrambles, salads, bowls (that’s not very descriptive – but sometimes I just throw a bunch of things in a bowl…protein included), soups/chili, sauces, and other things that I can’t think of right now. The other night I made sweet potato noodles with bolognese sauce. All I had to do for the sauce was heat a jar of clean marinara sauce & ground beef that I cooked earlier in the week. EASY. That’s the key here, everyone catching on?

3. Get those fruits & veggies ready for eating. I love fruits & vegetables, so I have never had to work TOO hard to get myself to eat them. But, I will attest that I am more likely to grab something healthy (fruit bowl or bell pepper slices) if it’s ALREADY prepared. So every week, right when I get home from the store, I try to cut the fruits that I purchased. Some I will keep in the fridge to put in small containers to take with breakfast & lately I have been putting some in ziplock bags in the freezer so that they are ready to go when we want a smoothie or a protein shake. For veggies – I like to chop onions & peppers for recipes ahead of time. (Figure out how many need to be diced vs. sliced.) If I buy veggies to snack on at work, like celery, I cut those up and place them in individual ziplock bags. Another thing I LOVE doing with vegetables is roasting them all at one time. Then let’s say we are making pork chops on Wednesday – we cook the meat in the cast iron/oven and just heat up the roasted veggies that are in the fridge. I do this with: sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, broccoli, and spaghetti squash.

This isn’t rocket science – I’m sure I didn’t share anything you hadn’t thought of before. But I promise you, these little things make all the difference when you have worked a full day, managed to get to the gym & ALL YOU WANT when you get home is a nice meal.

As I mentioned in my last post, we are starting a Whole 30 on April 10th. This reset is much needed on my part and I cannot wait to start. There are a number of things in the average grocery story that you & I would just assume are “clean” (i.e. no sugar, dairy, soy, grain) – but then you read the label and realize that is ABSOLUTELY not the truth. It gets me really agitated that so many products have unhealthy/unnecessary things added to them. SO – next week (based on the suggestion from my bestie – HI JORDAN!), I am going to be highlighting my Whole 30 pantry staples. If there are any items that you would like to see in that post – please comment below and I will make sure to include them!

Sending Good Chives your way,

Shauna

 

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