Monday, March 10, 2014

Prep Your Pants Off!

As I sit here drinking my warm mandarin orange spark with a dash of cinnamon, I am feeling quite thoughtful and decided this would make a perfect post after the weekend since it’s when I do all my food preparation for the upcoming week. Eating clean meals on the go can be very challenging and sometimes seem downright impossible especially if you have little ones, have an insanely busy schedule or find you are just away from home a lot. Trust me! I know what it is like to juggle training, dieting, competitions, graduate school, family, a fiancĂ©, planning a wedding and work all at the same time! BUT it definitely CAN be done (with a little planning). When I first started competing, it would take me hours to prep and pack my food. I would cook each meal individually and found that all I did was cook. But as with anything, you learn as you go. You discover the things that work and the things that should never be tried again…ever. I am here to help take the guess work out of food preparation and help keep you sane when it comes to eating clean while on the go (you lucky ducks you).

I find it best to do all my shopping on Saturdays while I am already out and about running errands. I typically hit the grocery store(s) post-workout (list in hand of course) so when I am ready to prep, I have all the things I need to do so. Sundays are my actual food prep days. It seems like the perfect day to chop, bake, grill, and cook all the necessities for the upcoming week. Here are a few of my favorite tips that will hopefully keep y'all on track!

  • Prepping Carbs- The majority of carbohydrates in my diet are sweet potatoes, which I rinse, slice into rounds, and place on a baking sheet. I can bake several at a time (at 420 degrees for ~25 minutes) and they store nicely for about 4 days. This is the best way that I have found, for I have discovered if you bake whole ones and store them, they tend to get mushy.  Brown rice and Quinoa is my favorite to prepare because after rinsing the grains, I put them in the rice cooker and forget about them until I hear the alarm. If you do not have a rice cooker, I highly suggest getting one! I also use mine to steam veggies and it can also double as a warming pot for meals. I store the grains in a glass container and tend to keep for ~4 days.  
  • Prepping Chicken- Chicken can be cooked many different ways, some that keep better and taste better than others. I have found the if using the George Foreman, the chicken does not taste very good the next day and certainly does not taste well on day 3. I use the foreman when I am in a pinch or am cooking chicken for the next meal. Grilling chicken on the BBQ tends to taste the best (to me) and keep the longest when cooking enough for a few days. I rinse and trim the chicken before grilling them on the BBQ. It stores great in a glass container and lasts for about 3-4 days. The crock pot is a great tool for preparing chicken! Rinse and trim the chicken, place in the crock pot with seasoning of your choice (Mrs. Dash now has seasoning packets, I like the taco) a cup of water, turn on low for 6-8 hours and now you have shredded chicken for about 3 days. 
  • Prepping Fish- Depending on the type of fish, I generally saute or grill cod, sole, or roughy. Fish does not keep as well as chicken but will still hold for 2-3 days in a glass container. I rinse my cod, place in a saute pan, cover with fresh dill and lime juice and simmer until done (about 10 minutes). Grilling fish on the foreman is also great and can be seasoned before or after. If my diet is strictly fish, I place the fish fillets on a baking sheet and bake at 425 for 25 minutes. This allows me to prepare a large quantity in a little amount of time.
  • Prepping Red Meat- I typically do not have red meat in my diet but if I do, I grill the steaks just prior to eating. If it is ground beef or ground turkey, I will cook it and store like all the other proteins. The ground meat tends to stay fresh for about 4 days before it should be tossed out. 
  • Prepping Veggies- When I get my veggies home from the store, I like to rinse and chop them before storing them in containers, some with water. This allows you to grab and go in a hurry or toss in with your dinner without having to do a thing. Sometimes I will bake my asparagus ahead of time with herbs and place in a glass container, that way they just need to be reheated. 
  • Miscellaneous- To save you the headache, I ALWAYS line every baking dish, tray, sheet with foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray which not only cuts clean up time down to zilch but also saves your baking dishes. I weigh and measure everything when I am packing my meals so I know exactly how much I am consuming to stay on track with my diet. 
I am sure I am forgetting something which I will definitely add to future posts but this should get you started in the kitchen. As always, feel free to email me with any questions on anything and I will address it for you :) Now for a little treat! This is a great make a head breakfast that you can eat all week long!

Here is Sunday's food prep almost complete!

This shot includes the stuffed bell peppers for dinner :)

Take care of you!


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