This week’s prep was a fusion between meal prep and cooking…so what’s the difference?
To me, “meal prep” is preparing the balanced components of a meal in enough quantity to last for at least three rounds of that meal. For example, this week I grilled chicken, baked squash, and noodle-ized a few zucchini with the intent of eating them all together for lunch or dinner at 4 meals: meal prep.
“Cooking” is also great, but it’s a little more free-form…maybe it’s just food for a single meal or two, or just a single component. This week, I pickled some vegetables, fried some green tomatoes, and pan-roasted some corn, with no particular intent other than to have delicious side dishes available.
Both have their place – my personal style is to prep at least 28 of my 35 weekly meals and snacks (3 meals + 2 snacks a day, y’all!) so that I don’t leave much of my nutrition up to random chance and leftover scraps of time, but I do have some wiggle room for cooking and healthy restaurant choices so that I can get in social time and avoid total food boredom. I prioritize breakfast and snack prep; I know I’m unlikely to use my time well in the mornings even if I do wake up early enough to cook a full breakfast, and I know that my snacks need to be locked and loaded because they fall at times when I’ve only got a 30-second break between clients or when I’m in the car.
PS – don’t rush your snacks or eat in the car if you can avoid it. It’s not great for you.
PPS – this is just my current, real-life situation. You do what is best for you. You know yourself better than anyone ever could. My challenges are not necessarily your challenges.
So, what did I prep and cook for the week?
Mostly lots of produce from my ever-increasing farmshare bounty. I love the challenge of incorporating their variety of veggies
- Quinoa Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies – get my recipe here, but customize it (and the serving size) to fit your needs
- 2 grilled chicken breasts – not enough for the whole week, but as much as I needed for about 4 days of my planned meals
- Pan-roasted corn – random side dish
- Fried green tomatoes – sliced green tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper, dusted with a sprinkle of corn meal, lightly pan fried in a little grapeseed oil
- Baked acorn squash – sliced and baked naked, not even any salt
- Instant pickled carrots & cucumbers – for a flavor boost (slice vegetables and place in a large heat-proof bowl with spices – I added a few whole peppercorns, dried dill, mustard seeds, and salt, heat enough white vinegar to cover the veggies and spices, pour hot vinegar over the veggies and allow the vegetables to cool. Pickles!)
- Zucchini noodles – it took me less than 60 seconds to cut 2 large zucchini into “noodles” with my julienne peeler. I left them unseasoned so I could add sauce at mealtime and avoid a soggy noodle mess in the fridge.
This week’s menu…
Again, this is just what I put together for my week to meet my needs, not a meal plan that is necessarily suited for anyone besides me!
- Breakfast #1: Quinoa Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
- Breakfast #2: Organic greek yogurt with chia seeds and peaches OR iced coffee with whey protein and vanilla coconut milk
- Lunch #1: Grilled chicken with zucchini noodles, avocado, and baked squash
- Lunch #2: Vega protein shake (made with water) or 2 squares of dark chocolate and a few whole grain crackers
- Dinner: Eggs + egg whites with vegetables and something involving corn tortillas – white bean tostadas, mini-quesadillas…something, plus 4 meals out
- Late night snack: cottage cheese with cherries or pineapple
Is it a perfect menu? Not to me – it’s got lots of veggies, fruit, and protein, but it’s a little dairy-heavy for my preferences since I’m relying on the convenience of dairy for both of my snacks this week. However, it took me less than 30 minutes to prep everything I listed, so I’ll take it.