Summer is in our rearview mirrors. Does that cause you to sigh heavily or cheer like a lunatic? Either way, it is time to get organized by meal prepping.
As a busy mom, I know that preparation is essential in everything. I’d have to say, one of the most important components of being successful in terms of weight loss and keeping a clean diet is preparation and planning. The more prepared you are, the less decision making you’ll have, and I promise this will help you to stay on plan.
Our brains are only capable of handling so much data. That’s why by the end of the day, after making thousands of decisions, we tend to fall apart. Enter late night snacking. Late night snacking tends to be an issue for so many people. As the old saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, and I couldn’t agree more.
The good news is that I have plenty of ideas to help. Consider this your back-to-school meal prep 101.
I make Sunday prep a priority, spending a few hours that day preparing for my week ahead. I don’t necessarily make all of my meals each Sunday, but I do make a number of things that I can use to assemble the meals for the week ahead. I typically do my shopping on Friday or Saturday and then any small job that can be checked off the list should be accomplished on Sunday when I can grab a few hours in relative peace to knock out my list.
Here are some examples of my tried-and-true go-to items to make in advance: egg muffins with veggies (recipe follows); oatmeal muffin cups; hard-boiled eggs; chopping raw veggies (Ziploc of raw veggies that are ready to grab); roasting veggies; salads; and crockpot chicken (recipe follows).
“When I have my food either with me, or prepared ahead of time, I stay on track and eat really clean. When I have to ‘grab on the run,’ I tend to choose the wrong things, and they tend to be way too high in calories, fat and carbs.”
I hear this consistently from my private clients, so avoid this by prepping. Everything on this list above is not only healthy, but it’s easy to make and serve. Hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal muffin cups and egg muffins are perfect for breakfast. Veggies in a Ziploc bag make great snacks and salads with fresh greens, veggies and lean protein are perfect for lunch.
For my fellow moms: for yourself and those kiddos, you need to prepare lunches the night before, because the mornings are hectic enough as it is. Choose healthy options and load up your pantry so that assembling lunches is a breeze and not an early morning headache.
For dinner, crockpots and instant pots are your ally. Some of them allow you to prepare a balanced meal in under 30 minutes, and it’s not just chili or pot roast. These tools help with easy, quick and healthy family meals.
Finally, I recommend that busy working moms consider taking advantage of meal prep from a local favorite of mine: Chef Craig of Craig’s Kitchen in Waldwick. I’ve partnered with Craig and we’ve designed a fabulous menu of yummy, healthy food that’s pre-portioned, organic, low calorie and ready to grab and go. If interested, contact me for all the details at Audrey@livezohealthy.com.
• 12 organic eggs
• organic egg whites (if needed to top off at end)
• splash of almond or coconut milk (optional)
• 4 slices of turkey bacon (I prefer Willshire farm) chopped up
• ¼ cup chopped onion
• ½ cup chopped spinach
• any other veggies, such as zucchini, squash, broccoli, butternut squash, etc.
• sprinkle of Daiya cheese or a low fat cheese of choice
• salt and pepper
Mix the eggs and milk in a bowl. Pour the mixture into silicone cups in a muffin pan that serves 12. Fill about ¾ full. In a sauté pan, cook up the veggies, or roast them in advance. Add in the mixture of veggies to each muffin, and then top with the cheese, if desired. Season with salt and pepper, and bake for 30 minutes or until browned at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze to last longer.
Easy Crock Pot Salsa Chicken
• 1or 2 packages of organic chicken breasts
• 1-2 jars of your favorite salsa
• 1 large red onion
• cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, sea salt and pepper
In the crockpot turned on low, add the chicken breasts, salsa, onion and spices. Cook for 6 hours until you can shred the chicken. Strain the chicken from the broth and place into a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 or 5 days.
By Audrey Zona
Audrey Zona is an Integrative Health, Nutrition and Wellness Coach and the founder of Zo Healthy (www.livezohealthy.com). Her mission is to educate, inspire and empower you to become your most beautiful self from the inside out. She believes that outer beauty is a reflection of inner health and will become your champion on that journey toward health and wellness. She is a mother, wife and personal coach who loves seeing her clients break old diet patterns and enjoy more satisfying, healthier lives. Follow Audrey on Instagram (@zo_healthy) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/ZoHealthy) for recipes, tips and tricks for leading a healthy lifestyle.