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Recipe Blog

Filtering by Category: Meal Prep

Best Choice Convenience Items

laura lomax

 A few of our favorite convenience items to stock in the freezer, fridge, and pantry for those days and evenings when cooking just doesn't fit in the schedule. 

A few of our favorite convenience items to stock in the freezer, fridge, and pantry for those days and evenings when cooking just doesn't fit in the schedule. 

If you follow me on social media or browse my site you know I enjoy meal prep. While I love meal prepping and believe it is a wonderful tool to healthy eating it requires time to plan, prepare, and clean . It would be unfair for me to not share that along with meal prepping I use a variety of other strategies to provide healthy options when cooking just doesn't fit the schedule. Today's post focuses on these strategies. 

FROZEN MEALS

1.  Frozen dinners....yes I said it. I know for years frozen meals were cringed at by most dietitians with their high sodium content, high calories, tons of preservatives and additives, and flat out horrible taste.  However, over the past years with consumer demand and the popularity of quality ingredients, less additives, and overall healthier options several manufacturers of frozen meals have stepped up to meet the demand. As always when searching out the best options refer to the nutrition label and ingredient list. Several guidelines and nutrients to examine  when selecting a frozen meal include calories, protein, sodium, fiber, and fat. 

General Guidelines For Choosing a Frozen Meal- 

~350-450 calories (varies by individual needs)

~10-15 grams or less (<30% total calories) of fat

- Sodium ~600 mg or less 

- At least 15 grams of protein  

- At least 4 or more grams of fiber

If a meal you enjoy doesn't meet your calorie  needs or falls short on other nutrients below are healthy and simple ways to boost the calorie and nutrient content and round out your frozen meal.

For example: Pair Newman's Own Frozen cheese pizza with a frozen vegetable or salad. With 2 slices of pizza at 260 calories adding a vegetable will boost the calorie and nutrient content to turn a frozen pizza into a meal.  

  • Protein:  For a boost of protein add a serving of dairy to your meal. Examples include adding a glass of low fat milk or a  string cheese. 
  • Vegetables: For frozen dinners short on vegetables considering mixing additional vegetables to the meal, having a vegetable side, or serving with a side salad (using bagged or bin of pre-washed lettuce makes this an easy side). Another great option is snacking on a side of edamame as an appetizer. Simple pop a steamer bag of edamame in the microwave and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning. 
  • Nuts/Seeds - Add a serving of nuts to your meal or as a dessert to round out your meal with healthy fats to keep you feeling full longer.  

Several examples of frozen meal brands with minimal additives (and some of my favorites) include Amy’s Light and Lean, Healthy Choice Café Steamers Simply, evol, Luvo, and Saffron Road. 

CONVENIENCE ITEMS:

2. Convenience Items are great time savers when it comes to choosing healthy foods at home. Stock up your fridge, freezer, or pantry with these items to always have a healthy meal on hand. 

VEGETABLES:

  • Pre-cut vegetables
  • Bagged Salad or salad bins
  • Frozen vegetables 
  •  Steamer vegetable bags  
  • Cauliflower rice 

PROTEIN:

  • Low sodium canned tuna or tuna pouches
  • Canned or pouches of salmon
  • Canned low sodium beans  
  • Dry roasted chickpeas 
  • Nuts/seeds 
  • Pre- cooked natural minimal or preservative free chicken or beef patties 
  • Eggs
  • Cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, low fat milk
  • Nuts/seeds 

FRUIT:

  • Ready to eat fruits that do not require slicing or peeling such as apples, bananas, peaches, pears, blueberries.
  • Canned or single serve cups of fruit in natural juice or no sugar added
  • Dried fruit
  • Freeze dried fruit  
  • No sugar added applesauce 

STARCH/WHOLE GRAINS:

  • Microwave brown rice cups 
  • Steamer brown rice 
  • Protein plus pasta 
  • Popcorn
  • Oatmeal 
  • Whole grain cereal
  • Whole grain crackers 

With these pantry staples there are a variety of combos that put a meal on the table in 5-20 minutes. Examples include:

  • Microwave bag of brown rice + Microwave bag of steamer vegetables + low sodium canned beans. Served with a side of Applesauce sprinkled w/ cinnamon. 
  • Whole wheat crackers + tuna pouch + raw pre-cut carrots. Served with an apple 
  • Protein Plus pasta + frozen vegetables. Served with canned pears.  
  • Oatmeal prepared with milk (or water if no milk available) + smashed banana (for sweetness) + sprinkled with crushed nuts and cinnamon.
  • Scrambled eggs + bagged spinach  + Peaches 

 

Meal Prep: Plan for Success

laura lomax

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Total Prep time:

2.5 hours with whole uncooked chicken

*1 hour 15 minutes with pre- cooked rotisserie chicken*  

Ingredients: 

3.5 pound whole chicken

2 - 4 oz steaks 

3 heads of broccoli

2 yellow squash

8 Apples 

1 bag or bundle of spinach 

2 cups brown rice 

1 can low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed

4 -1oo% whole wheat pitas 

2 cups of quick oats

4 cups low sodium chicken broth

Salad dressing of your choices 

olive oil 

Cinnamon 

Raisins 

Chopped walnuts

 Salt and pepper 

Steak seasoning 

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Directions: 

1. Set racks evenly apart in the oven (to cook both chicken and vegetables the last 20 minutes). Preheat oven 415 degrees . Remove chicken from packaging, drain off any liquids, and place in cooking dish.  Drizzle generously with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place in oven and cook for the first 20 minutes at 415 degrees, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees.  For this 3.5 pound chicken it cooked for for 1 hour and 20 minutes. You will base your prep schedule on the chicken cook time so be sure to calculate an estimated cook time based on the weight of your chicken before you begin preparing other dishes. A rule of thumb is approximately 20 minutes per pound, but as always when cooking chicken check temperature with thermometer and chicken is done when internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. 

2. While the chicken is cooking. Wash and chop vegetables placing squash on one sheet and broccoli on the other. Wait to season the vegetables until closer to cook time.  The vegetables will be added to the oven the last 20 minutes of the chicken cook time. To season drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and increase the oven temperature to 415 degrees.  

3. Next cook the rice. In a large pot add 4 cups chicken stock and 2 cups brown rice, bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 35- 40 minutes.

4. At this point the chicken likely still has at least an hour of cook time so if desired use this time to prepare other foods for the week. Options include cooking hard boiled eggs, chopping single serve fruits or vegetables, preparing instant oatmeal packets, or planning next weeks meal prep. As pictured  I prepared oatmeal with 1/2 cup oats, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, and 2 tbsp. raisins or crushed walnuts. I also use this time to clean up any mess and dishes used thus far. 

5. As the chicken has ~ 40 minutes left to cook work on the steaks.  Season each steak with steak seasoning or other seasoning of your choice and cook over stove top or outdoor grill. Remove from heat and allow to cool. While the steaks are cooking open black beans, drain, and rinse then set back in the can. 

6.  Once the chicken nears completion with ~ 20 minutes left increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees, season the vegetables and place in the oven to cook.  While the chicken finishes and vegetables are cooking set out all your single serve containers and begin to fill with prepared foods.

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7. Remove chicken from oven and check temperature with meat thermometer (make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees). Remove from cooking juice onto a new plate to cool. Remove vegetables and allow to cool. 

8. While chicken is cooling begin assembling single serve containers with beans, brown rice, spinach, and steak. Once chicken and vegetables are cool add to the meals. 

4 Meals - Black bean + Broccoli + brown Rice + chicken 

2 Meals - Spinach salad + roasted yellow squash + steak

2 - Meals Chicken + Spinach + Roasted broccoli + chicken + 100% whole wheat pita

4 Meals - Oatmeal with cinnamon + raisins or walnuts + (Add milk or milk alternative when ready to serve)

Tip: 

*The bulk of this meal prep time is spent cooking the chicken to save time use a store bought rotisserie chicken. If using a pre-cooked chicken skip the first step. start your meal prep by preheating the oven to 415 to heat up for the vegetables then cook the rice. From there proceed to step 2 and continue with the meal prep eliminating or portions of steps that pertain to cooking the chicken. 

 

Meal Prep: Simple Steps to Success

laura lomax

 A colorful meal prep using leftovers from previous meals and convenience items in the kitchen.&nbsp;

A colorful meal prep using leftovers from previous meals and convenience items in the kitchen. 

 A great strategy to save time in the kitchen is to double recipes or build off dishes from meals prepped. This a strategy we use in our house when we aren't able to meal prep on weekends. With a little planning ahead and cooking extra portions of meat and rice those core items can be used to expand and build meals for the rest of the week. 

4 meals: Cilantro Rice + black beans + tuna + 1/2 cup blueberries

4 meals: Lean ground beef + sugar snap peas + 1/2 avocado + orange 

4 Snacks: 1/2 cup Grapes + protein shake

4 Breakfasts: Banana + 1 cup yogurt + 2 tbsp cashews 

Ingredients: 

1 pound 99% lean ground turkey 

4 tuna pouches 

1 can low sodium black beans 

1 Bag frozen sugar snap peas 

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped 

4 cloves of garlic 

2 avocado

2 cups Grapes 

4 Oranges

4 bananas 

1 pint of blueberries

4 scoops protein powder

32 ounce Plain Yogurt

Cashews  

Olive oil

Cumin 

Salt

pepper  

Directions:

1. Begin by starting the rice.Cilantro rice. Add 1 cup rice to 2 cups of water bring to a boil, reduce heat to low cover and cook for 35-45 minutes.

2. Next add the turkey to a skillet and brown.  Remove from heat and allow to cool

3. While rice continues to cook rinse the cilantro and chop. Chop the garlic and set aside. Using a strainer drain and rinse the black beans. 

 

4.  Cook snow peas in steamer bags in the microwave. While they are heating wash fruit and portion in single serve containers. Remove snow peas from microwave and place in a bowl. Toss with 1 tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper. 

5. Once rice is cooked remove from heat and allow to cool off for a few minutes. Add chopped garlic, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 cup cilantro, and 2 tbsp. olive oil. 

6. Fill meals in single serve containers and enjoy your week! 

* For best results add tuna when you are ready to eat your meal. 

 

Meal Prep: Build your own Bowl

laura lomax

 The final product of this meal preparation provides a variety of ingredients to build your own bowl including brown rice, quinoa, roasted chickpeas, grilled chicken, roasted broccoli, tomato, orange bell peppers, and avocados! Snacks are a breeze with hummus and pre - cut carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. Breakfast are KIND bars and plain yogurt with strawberries for a sweet evening snack.&nbsp;

The final product of this meal preparation provides a variety of ingredients to build your own bowl including brown rice, quinoa, roasted chickpeas, grilled chicken, roasted broccoli, tomato, orange bell peppers, and avocados! Snacks are a breeze with hummus and pre - cut carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. Breakfast are KIND bars and plain yogurt with strawberries for a sweet evening snack. 

This is one of my favorite meal preps. In addition to meal prep this spread also works great for friends and family when they visit.  Friends and family really enjoy all the variety and it is great to have options that are gluten free, diary free, and vegetarian (just swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth or water).

Of course this spread includes several of my favorite options, however feel free to swap out veggies and grains per your preference. Below are  several other options we commonly enjoy in our house

Carbohydrates: Couscous, whole wheat pasta, roasted sweet potatoes, or orzo.   

Vegetables: Zoodles or zucchini, carrots, squash, asparagus, corn, bell peppers, roasted cauliflower, roasted brussel sprouts, or green beans.

Protein: tofu, black beans, lean beef, ground lean turkey, shredded rotisserie chicken, tuna or salmon single serve pouches, or boiled eggs. 

With bowls the possibilities are endless and really that is what makes this meal prep so versatile. If you are preparing for a family it leaves all kinds of options or if you are preparing for one person the variety of combos makes it easy to enjoy the meals for most of the week (Consume meal prep within 4 days of cooking). 

This meal prep prepares enough for approximately 16 bowls assuming a 1/2 cup grains is used, 1/2 cup beans or 4 ounce chicken, and mixture of tomato, peppers. avocado, broccoli in each bowl. In addition to the bowls this meal prep provides 2 snacks daily and a breakfast option. 

*Total meals prepared might be adjusted for those with higher calorie needs/meal.*

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Brown rice (5 cups cooked)  

Quinoa (3 cups cooked)

Roasted chick peas (Prepares 3.5 cups)

Roasted broccoli (~5 cups)

Grilled chicken (3 cooked chicken breast) 

Avocado, tomato, yellow peppers 

6 Snacks of hummus + veggies 

4 Snacks Yogurt with strawberries 

4 KIND bars for breakfast

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Ingredients: 

1 bag baby carrots 

3 Heads of broccoli

1 head of caulflower 

1 orange pepper 

4 roma tomatoes 

2 Pints of strawberries 

2 Avocado

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast 

2 cans of garbanzo beans 

1 Low sodium chicken broth 

Quinoa 

Brown rice 

Olive oil 

Garlic or garlic powder 

Salt and pepper

1 Hummus 

32 oz plain low fat yogurt

4 KIND Bars 

1. Cook brown rice. Add 1 cup of brown rice and 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth to a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 35-40 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. 

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2. Prepare the chicken- Trim excess fat from the chicken breast fillets and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper or other seasoning of your choice. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to cooking skillet and cook approximately 10 minutes covered on the first side. 

3. Wash hands and begin prepping vegetables. Line 2 large baking sheets with foil. Wash cauliflower, broccoli, tomato, and orange pepper. Drain and rinse chick peas in a colander. Lay several paper towels on one of the cooking sheets then pour chickpeas onto baking sheet with paper towel and pat the remaining liquid off. At this time the chicken is likely ready to be flipped. 

 

4. As the chicken is cooking cut the vegetables.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cauliflower in container to have with hummus, broccoli on the large foil lined baking sheet, tomatoes in a 2 storage container, and bell pepper in a storage container. Season the broccoli with 1-2 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper. Lightly drizzle the chickpeas with olive then  season with fresh garlic or 1-2 tsp. garlic powder and lightly sprinkle with salt.  Place the broccoli and chickpeas in the oven to cook. The chicken is likely done (depending on your speed). Check the chicken with a thermometer and ensure internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  Remove from heat to cool. 

5. At this time the rice is likely cooked. Remove from heat and place in a large bowl. Rinse the pot used to cook the rice and this will be used to prepare the quinoa. Add 2 cups low sodium chicken broth to the pot and increase heat to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce heat and allow to cook ~ 10-15 minutes or until water is absorbed. After quinoa is cooking check on vegetables and chickpeas. After cooking for ~ 10 minutes use a spatula to mix chickpeas for even cooking. Return to oven and cook for ~ 5-10 more minutes depending on your crispness preference. Remove broccoli after cooking for ~ 10-15 minutes. 

6. While vegetables are cooling and quinoa finishes cooking slice wash and remove stems from strawberries. Slice chicken breast. Move broccoli and chickpeas to bowls to cool. Clean dishes. Once quinoa is done cooking move to a bowl to cool and wash pot. 

7. Store each ingredient for bowl making in its own large container or prepare single serve combo bowls per your preference. 

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Meal Prep: 16 Meals in 60 minutes (12 Lunch/dinner + 4 breakfast

laura lomax

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Meal Prep Menu:

4 Breakfast -1 cup plain fat free Greek Yogurt + 1/4 cup Granola + Small Banana

4 Meals: 1/2 cup Quinoa + 3/4 cup peas and Carrots + 1 Boiled egg 

4 Meals: Salad Jars with Edamame + 1/2 Small Avocado + Triscuit crackers

4 Meals: 2 Baked tenders with carrot sticks

- All meals served with apple or orange  

Total Meal Prep time: 1 hour

Grocery List:

4 Bananas 

8 Apples 

4 Oranges 

2 Avocados

2 tomatoes 

1 Orange pepper 

1 Cucumber 

1 bag baby carrots 

1 Bundle of spinach or 9 oz bag of spinach 

1 head of lettuce or 9 oz bag of lettuce 

Meat

1.5 pound boneless skinless chicken breast tenders or chicken breast cut into tenders

Grains

3/4 cup Whole wheat bread crumbs

1 cup Bear Naked Cacao and Cashew butter granola 

3/4 cup Quinoa

1.5 cups chicken broth 

Triscuit crackers 

Diary/Eggs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 

32 oz Greek plain yogurt

8 Eggs 

Frozen:

2 cups Edamame (steamer bag)

3 cups Peas and Carrots blend

Other:

Olive oil 

Salt free all purpose seasoning or Penzey Mural of flavor seasoning 

Salt 

Pepper 

Nonstick spray

1. Prepare baked chicken tenders. Recipe link http://www.greensandgrainsnutrition.com/greens-and-grains-blog/2017/7/6/baked-chicken-tenders. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray. In a bowl cracker and scramble the 2 eggs. In another bowl combine 3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 tbsp salt free seasoning, and 1 tsp salt and pepper. Gently mix. Take the chicken tenders and dip in the egg first then breadcrumb mixture and place on baking sheet. Repeat process until all tenders are complete. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes. 

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2. While tenders are baking place 8 eggs in a large pot. Cover with water and place on stove. Bring to a boil, once boiling cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes. While the eggs are cooking cook the quinoa. Add 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth and 3/4 cup quinoa to a small pot. Bring to a boil, cover and turn off heat. Allow to stand covered for 10 minutes. 

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3. While the quinoa and eggs are finishing steam the edamame in the microwave according to package instructions (typically 3-4 minutes) then empty into a bowl to cool. Chop the tomato,  cucumbers, and orange pepper. Drain the hot water from the eggs and add cool water or ice to the eggs. 

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4. After standing for 10 minutes remove cover from quinoa and allow to cool. After cooking for 30 minutes, remove chicken tenders from oven and allow to cool. Peel the eggs.  

6 Assemble salad jars with 2 tbsp. dressing first (optional you may also add when ready to eat), cucumbers, tomato, and orange pepper first. Next layer edamame and 1 chopped egg. Generously fill with lettuce and spinach. 

7. Assemble remaining meals: 1/2 cup Quinoa + 3/4 cup peas and carrots  + 1 sliced boiled egg - 4 meals. Then 2 baked chicken tenders + 10 carrot sticks.   Pre-portion 1 cup yogurt servings.  

*Tips and Variations*

- May swap proteins in the salad per preference- other great options include black beans, tuna, chicken tenders, or lean beef. The black beans would go well in the jar method, however other options are best added to the salad at time of consumption

- If you don't have travel salad containers or large jars to fill don't worry. It works just as well to store in a glass or plastic container. 

- As with many meal preps vegetable and fruit swaps are welcome per preference or convenience. 

- You may add salad dressing with carrot sticks if preferred. 

 

 

 

Meal Prep: Eat the Rainbow

laura lomax

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MEAL PREP 

4 - 5.3 ounce Siggis yogurt + Banana with 1 tbsp. peanut butter

6 -Chicken and gnocchi soup + orange  

4 - Roasted vegetables (brussel sprouts, carrots, potato) + beef round steak + apple

8 Snacks: 4- 1 ounce cheese + 1/2 cup blueberries AND 4- 1/4 cup hummus with 1/2 a cucumber  

*There are 5 cups of soup left for additional meals or to freeze with this recipe after the portions are distributed for the meal prep*

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This meal prep incorporates takes approximately 1.5 hours to complete from start to clean up. The meals are packed with vegetables and really encompasses the philosophy to "eat the rainbow". Each different color and shade of fruits and vegetables provides different health benefits. Blueberries or other blue and purple fruits and vegetables are rich in antocyanin an antioxidant that can help with heart health and blood pressure control. Green vegetables such as the spinach and brussel sprouts are a great source of vitamin K, folic acid, and potassium. Orange fruits and vegetables are a great source of beta carotene can convert to vitamin A which is essential for eye health, skin health, and maintaining a strong immune system. Regardless of if you choose to meal prep fill your plate daily with a rainbow of colors to maximize the health benefits from the foods you consume. 

Ingredients: 

2 pounds chicken breast tenders 

1 pound beef eye of round steaks 

17.6 oz package of Gnocchi 

8 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup low sodium beef broth 

4 -5.3 oz siggis yogurt 

Single serve 1 ounce Parmesan cheese blocks

4 small-medium potatoes 

1 bundle of spinach 

15 oz Brussel sprouts

16 oz bag sliced carrots

 6 cloves Garlic 

1 white onion 

4 bananas 

6 Mandarin oranges 

4 apples

1 Pint blueberries 

2 Cucumbers 

Natural Peanut butter 

Hummus

Olive oil  

1 tbsp. Butter  

Salt

Pepper 

Oregano

Thyme 

Directions: 

1. To cook the steaks first season steaks with salt and pepper on both sides.   Add ~ 1 tbsp butter to the skillet and heat to medium to high heat to melt the butter. Once melted add the steaks and brown on each side for ~ 2-3 minutes.  Remove steaks from pan and reduce heat to low. Add in ~ 1 cup of beef broth and add steaks back to the skillet. Cover and cook on low for ~ 45 minutes or under tender. 

2. Next prepare the soup. First chop onions and garlic. Place onions, garlic, 1/2 bag sliced carrots, and 2 tbsp. olive oil into the soup pot. Saute until the onions are translucent or ~ 5 minutes. Next add in 8 cups low sodium chicken broth and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. 

While waiting for the soup to boil cut the chicken into cubes and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for ~4 minutes then stir and flip to the other side and cook for an additional ~4 minutes or until chicken is cooked thoroughly. 

 Maximizing the cook top to complete meal prep in minimal time. Waiting for the soup to boil the chicken is cut and added to a skillet. The beef continues cooking covered.&nbsp;

Maximizing the cook top to complete meal prep in minimal time. Waiting for the soup to boil the chicken is cut and added to a skillet. The beef continues cooking covered. 

 

3. While the chicken is cooking preheat the oven to 400 degrees to roast the vegetables. Line a large baking dish with foil. Wash the potatoes, brussel sprouts, and the spinach.  Peel and slice the potatoes into thin 1/4 inch slices.  At this time check on the chicken and if cooked thoroughly remove from heat. Continue prepping the vegeteables. Cut the brussel spouts in half. Add remainder of the carrots to the cooking sheet. Season the vegetables with oregano, thyme, salt, and olive oil. Combine all the vegetables making sure to coat them all the olive oil and seasoning. Place in preheated oven and roasted for ~ 20-25 minutes. 

 Roasting vegetables adds a depth of flavor to the vegetables. The vegetables are cut and ready to be seasoned with olive oil, thyme,&nbsp;oregano, and salt.&nbsp;

Roasting vegetables adds a depth of flavor to the vegetables. The vegetables are cut and ready to be seasoned with olive oil, thyme, oregano, and salt. 

 

4.   Add the chicken and its cooking juices to the soup. Add the gnocchi and spinach to the boiling soup.  Once gnocchi float to the top the soup is complete. Portion soup into single serve containers to allow to cool. 

5. At this time the beef is likely tender and cooked. Remove from heat and remove vegetables from oven (after ~ 25 minutes or as they begin to brown on the edges). Portion vegetables and meat into single serve portions. 

6. While foods cool portion out blueberries (for best quality wash right before consuming).  As food continues to cool clean pots, skillets, and utensils. Once food is cool, cover and store in refrigerator. 

 This meal prep provides these healthy and delicious protein and vegetable packed meals.&nbsp; Preparing meals ahead of time makes healthy eating easy and gives you more time to enjoy with family and friends.&nbsp;

This meal prep provides these healthy and delicious protein and vegetable packed meals.  Preparing meals ahead of time makes healthy eating easy and gives you more time to enjoy with family and friends. 

Meal Prep: Eat Well all Week

laura lomax

 This meal prep prepares 12 meals (8 lunch or dinner and 4 breakfast) in under 2 hours. This meal prep allows you to save time and eat healthy no matter how busy your schedule is during the week.&nbsp;

This meal prep prepares 12 meals (8 lunch or dinner and 4 breakfast) in under 2 hours. This meal prep allows you to save time and eat healthy no matter how busy your schedule is during the week. 

Total Meal Prep Time: 1 hour 40 minutes 

Prepares: 

4- lean beef tacos with 1 whole wheat tortilla + sliced carrots + Apple 

4 - turkey tenderloin with roasted broccoli + mandarin oranges + cashews 

8 Snacks: Single serve low fat Colby Jack cheese blocks

Breakfast: No sugar added peanut butter date bars with 1/2 cup plain yogurt

Grocery List

Turkey Breast tenderloin 

16 oz Lean ground beef 

4 heads of broccoli 

16 oz bag baby carrots 

4 Apples 

4 Oranges 

4 oz Cashews 

32 oz plain yogurt 

8 low fat Colby Jack cheese single serve blocks

4 whole wheat tortillas 

1 cup oats 

18 pitted dates 

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

1 tsp ground flaxseed 

1/2 tsp cinnamon 

taco seasoning 

Salt 

Pepper 

Olive oil 

All purpose salt free seasoning 

optional additions: Salad dressing to dip carrots 

Additional Items: 

4 single serve meal containers, 4 - 8 oz storage containers, 4- 4 oz storage containers, small zipper bags, foil, 1 large cooking sheet, 1 small cooking sheet, and 1 skillet. 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line both cooking sheets with foil. If turkey tenderloin is unseasoned (if tenderloin is purchased seasoned skip this step) open from packaging and drizzle with 2 tbsp. olive oil. Place on foil lined small cooking sheet then sprinkle with all purpose salt free seasoning and 1/2 tsp. salt. Place in preheated oven to cook for ~ 50-60 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  While tenderloin cooks complete meal prep as follows. 

2. Prepare no sugar added peanut butter date bars. Add pitted dates to a medium bowl and cover with water. Allow to soak for 10 minutes to soften. While dates are soaking combine all dry ingredients in a medium to large bowl. After dates have soaked removed from water and chop. Add chopped dates and peanut butter to the dry ingredients and combine well. Place on wax paper and flatten with your hands or a rolling pin then cut into 6 pieces. 

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3. Pre-portion carrots in 1/2 cup servings and cashews in 1 oz servings (~18 cashews).  

4. Place the lean ground beef in the cooking skillet and brown the ground beef. Drain the ground beef and place back in the skillet. Add taco seasoning and combine.  Divide into 4 servings and allow to cool. 

5. During the last 10 minutes of cook time for the tenderloin. Wash and cut broccoli. Place on large foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. After removing the tenderloin from the oven increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and allow broccoli to roast for 10-15 minutes while tenderloin stands for 10 minutes.  

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6. While broccoli is cooling slice turkey tenderloin and place in single serve containers. While broccoli is cooling clean dishes, then once broccoli is cool place alongside turkey tenderloin. 

7. Enjoy your meal prep all week!  

Easy Meal Prep in Under an Hour

laura lomax

 12 meals and 4 snacks completed in this meal prep in under 1 hour!&nbsp;

12 meals and 4 snacks completed in this meal prep in under 1 hour! 

This meal prep is all completed  stove top requiring a bit more cookware than  usual, but the ability to multitask makes this meal prep a breeze and complete in under an hour.  The Amy Organics soups are a great option for a convenient healthy meal. While nutrients vary by soup many of the Amy's Organic soups are lower in sodium than tradition canned soups, are a good source of fiber, and contain minimal ingredients. The soups I choose were Minestrone and Split pea and since they are lower in protein I paired them with a boiled egg. 

Prepares:

6 Meals: 4 oz ground turkey + 1/2 cup rice + 1/2 cup carrots + fresh fruit 

2 Meals: 1 can Amy's Organic soup + 1 serving Artisan Nut thins with Chia seeds + boiled egg + fruit

Breakfast: 1/2 cup Oats prepared with cinnamon, 3/4-1 cup almond milk, chopped cashews + boiled egg 

4 Snacks: 1 ounce Fresh Mozzarella cheese + 1 servings Artisan nut thins with chia seeds 

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Ingredients:

1.5 pounds lean ground turkey (93/7 or 99/1)

24 oz baby carrots (~ 1.5 16 oz baby carrot bags)

1.5 cups Brown rice 

3 cups Low sodium chicken broth 

2 cups Oats

32 oz carton of unflavored vanilla Almond milk

2- Amy's organic soup (I choose Split pea and Minestrone)

1.5 boxes (4.25 oz boxes) Artisan Nut thins crackers with Chia seeds 

8 servings fresh fruit

4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese

6 Eggs

1 tbsp. Butter

Cashews (4 tbsp.)

Cinnamon

Salt and Pepper   

Utensils: 2 - 3 Quart pots, 1 - 5.5 Quart cooking pot, Cooking skillet (I used a 6 quart), and strainer. 

Directions:

1. Using the large 5.5 quart cooking pot add in 3 cups chicken broth and 1.5 cups brown rice. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 35-45 minutes. 

2. Next slice the baby carrots in half and place in one of the 3 quart cooking pots. Add 1 cup of water, bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for ~ 20-25 minutes or until slightly soft ( or per your preference). 

3. Next add eggs to the other 3 quart cooking pot and fill with  water (enough water to at least cover an inch over the eggs) and bring to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil add the ground turkey to the cooking skillet over medium heat and break it apart with a spoon or spatula.  

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4. Once you notice the egg cooking water is boiling, place the cover on and turn off the heat. Allow the eggs to cook for 10-12 minutes.  After the eggs cook for !10-12 minutes, drain off the water and cover with cold water and ice to cool.  

5. The ground turkey will take ~15-20 minutes to cook. While the ground turkey continues cooking prepare the oatmeal and portion out the crackers. At this time likely the carrots have completed cooking and can be portioned into the single serve containers to cool. 

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6. After the ground beef is cooked drain off the excess liquid. At this time the rice is likely also complete. Remove rice from heat and remove the cover to begin cooling. Portion the ground beef and rice with the carrots in the single serve container. Allow to cool and refrigerate until ready for consumption.

Tips:  

* If you do not have multiple cookware to prepare the items at the same time then just prioritize the items based on cook time. If you have two pots prepare the rice and carrots first then clean and use those pots for the eggs and ground beef. 

Meal Preparation: Planning for success

laura lomax

 This 90 minute meal prep will provide you with a variety of healthy meals while saving you time, money, and helping you reach your weight loss goals.&nbsp;&nbsp;

This 90 minute meal prep will provide you with a variety of healthy meals while saving you time, money, and helping you reach your weight loss goals.  

Meal preparation is another strategy for success in achieving your health goals.  Beyond weight loss health goals can include eating more fruits and vegetables, incorporating fish into your diet twice weekly, adding protein to breakfast, or cutting back on portion sizes. Meal preparation is a great strategy to help achieve all these goals. When it comes to setting goals I always recommend my clients to set at least one non-weight related health goal. This could include adding a vegetable to lunch daily, decreasing carbohydrate portion size in half at each meal, or replacing 1 sugar beverage with 8 oz water. When it comes to accomplishing goals it often takes purpose and planning, and that  is why meal preparation can be such a great tool to help achieve these goals. Instead of hoping to find something for lunch with vegetables have your lunch ready. Planning is key to success when it comes to dietary goals especially with all the temptations in the food world. Set yourself up for succcess and move a step closer to meeting your goals! 

Meals Prepared: 

8 Meals - Chicken + orzo + roasted broccoli AND Salmon + sweet potato + spinach

4 Luna Bars for breakfast + Fruit 

8 Snacks: 6- 1 ounce pistachios with fruit  , 2- Guacamole + Triscuit Crackers 

Grocery List

4 split chicken breast cutlets 

4 sweet potatoes 

4 crowns of broccoli

2 heads of spinach (or 2 bags spinach)

2 Lemons

1 cup orzo 

4 pouches salmon 

4 luna Bars 

2 -100 calorie single serve guacamole packs or 1 avocado 

2 servings of triscuit crackers 

Pistachios (6- 1 ounce servings)

Fresh fruit of your choice (10 servings)

Olive oil 

Salt and pepper 

Cooking Supplies: Large pot, small pot, deep skillet, large baking sheet, single serve meal containers, and foil. 

 

 In just 90 minutes transform these simple ingredients into 8 meals, 4 breakfast, and 8 snacks.&nbsp;

In just 90 minutes transform these simple ingredients into 8 meals, 4 breakfast, and 8 snacks. 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

2. Marinade chicken*. Trim chicken cutlets and place in large plastic bag. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1 tsp salt, and pepper. Zip bag shut and push chicken around as to coat all the marinade. Place in fridge to marinade for at least 30 minutes. 

2. Wash sweet potatoes. Poke holes throughout the sweet potato with a fork. Tear off 4 sheets of aluminum foil. Then lightly coat each sweet potato with olive oil and wrap in foil. Place directly on oven grates to cook for ~45 minutes while you meal prep.**

3. Line baking sheet with foil. Wash spinach and broccoli. Cut broccoli and place on  baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and place in oven to roast for ~ 10-15 minutes.  Remove spinach from stems and place in small cooking pot with ~ 1 inch of water. Cover and steam on low for ~ 3-4 minutes or until just wilted. Remove from heat and lightly drizzle with olive oil or season with lemon juice. 

 

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4. While broccoli continues roasting cook orzo according to package instructions (1 cup ozro per 8 cups water. Bring water to a boil, add orzo, cooking boiling for 8-10 minutes, and then drain water from orzo). At this time broccoli is likely nearing completion or complete. 

5. While orzo is cooking  start the chicken.  In a large cooking skillet on medium heat add chicken cutlets. Discard marinade. Cover and let cook for ~ 7 minutes per side or until cooked to correct internal temperature. 

6. While orzo and chicken continue cooking place broccoli and spinach in their storage containers or single serve containers to help cool and to allow for clean up. Clean baking sheet and small pot***.

7. Remove chicken and sweet potatoes when they are done cooking and allow to cool. Plate with vegetables and orzo for single serve meals. 

Tips:

* If your schedule allows you can marinade the chicken overnight in the refrigerate.

**To save time you can also cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave. Follow the same prep except do not cover with foil. Cook for ~ 5 minutes per potato. 

***This meal prep is on the higher side of pots and baking sheets used, but there is also good down time to clean as you go and prevent a large mess at the end. 

Total Meal Prep Time: 1.5 hours. 

 

Meal Prep - Pantry and Freezer Sweep

laura lomax

 Meal Prep doesn't have to be complicated. These 8 meals and 4 breakfast prepared in &nbsp;a little over an hour!&nbsp;&nbsp;

Meal Prep doesn't have to be complicated. These 8 meals and 4 breakfast prepared in  a little over an hour!  

Meal prep doesn't have to be complicated or all from scratch. This weeks meal prep is one that I call the pantry sweep. It utilizes pantry essentials and frozen vegetables and proteins for a quick meal prepare without a grocery store trip. As always many of the items in the meal prep are interchangeable and when it comes to meal prep here are a few of my favorite pantry essentials to keep around for those weekends you don't have time for the grocery store. 

Favorite Pantry and Freezer Essentials:

Freezer- Frozen vegetables, Frozen proteins (blackeye peas, edamame), steamer rice bags, frozen fruits

Fruits- unsweetened applesauce, mandarin orange slices, single serve fruit cups in 100% juice, dried fruits (raisins, cranberries, blueberries), or dehydrated fruits.

Grains- Brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa, orzo, oats 

Meals: 

1/2 cup Turmeric rice + 1 cup broccoli + 1/2 cup blackeye peas + unsweetened applesauce  

Salad greens + pink salmon or albacore tune + grapes 

8 oz plain Greek yogurt + 2 tbsp. bleuberries + 1 tsp ground flaxseed + 2 tsp honey (optional)

Ingredients:

12 oz frozen bag blackeye peas

4 cups of frozen broccoli

1 cup brown rice or white rice

2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth

1 bag salad greens

4 salmon or tuna packets or cans

4 unsweetened applesauce cups   

2 cups grapes 

32 oz plain Greek yogurt 

1 pint blueberries 

4 tsp. ground flaxseed 

Honey (optional for yogurt)

8 tbsp. Salad dressing of your choice 

1/4 onion

4 cloves garlic

1 tsp turmeric   

Olive oil 

salt and pepper 

Utensils:

2 cooking pots

4 salad jars or salad storage containers 

4 single serve meal containers, 4 snack containers 

Directions: 

1. In a large pot add chicken stock, rice, and turmeric. Cook according to package instructions. 

2. In the other cooking pot add frozen blackeye peas and cover with water. Add chopped onion and garlic. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes then reduce heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes. 

3. While blackeye peas and rice are cooking portion salad in jars, rinse grapes, and defrosted broccoli. Season broccoli with 1 tbsp, olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper. Dispense grapes in single serve containers*. 

4. After blackeye peas have cooked 30 minutes strain off liquid portion. Season lightly with pepper and add 1/2 cup servings to each container. Once rice is complete portion 1/2 cup servings with black eyed peas and finish with 1 cup of broccoli. 

* To save time in the mornings you can also portion yogurt to single serve containers*

Meal Prep - 8 Meals in Under an Hour

laura lomax

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If you have been considering meal prepping, but not sure where to start this meal prep is a great place to start. It uses simple cooking methods and allows for clean up during the prep and is complete in 1 hour! 

4- Roasted sweet potatoes + 96/4 lean ground beef + fresh fruit + low fat string cheese

4- Shelled edamame + roasted cauliflower + fresh fruit + low fat string cheese

Each meal served with sliced strawberries, green grapes, or Cutie and a low fat string cheese. 

Here's What you Need:

Ingredients:

1.25 pounds lean ground beef 96/4

4 sweet potatoes 

1 head of cauliflower 

1 box fresh strawberries 

1 pound fresh grapes 

12 oz bag frozen shelled Edamame 

8 Low fat string cheese 

Olive oil 

Salt and pepper 

Optional: Dried seasonings of your choice such as garlic powder, Mrs. Dash, McCormick Seasonings, etc. 

Storage and Cooking Utensils:

8 single serving plastic or glass meal containers 

8 single serve plastic or glass containers 

2 large baking sheets 

1 medium non stick skillet

Foil 

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Instructions: 

1. Preheat the oven to 415 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with foil.

2. While oven is preheating wash potatoes and cauliflower. Peal potatoes (optional) and cut into cubes. Place sweet potatoes on foil lined baking sheet in a mound and add 2-3 Tbsp olive oil and toss to cover all potatoes. Once olive oil is mixed and evenly distributed season with salt and pepper and spread out in a single layer on the baking sheet. Repeat with the cauliflower. Place both in preheated oven to cook. Typically the cauliflower will cook in ~ 15 minutes and the sweet potatoes in ~ 20-25 minutes.  

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3. While the vegetables are roasting cook the lean ground beef on low to medium heat in a medium skillet. Break the ground beef into even pieces to ensure even cooking. While the beef is cooking begin washing the fruit. When ground beef is done cooking (all pink is gone and reaches the appropriate internal temperature) lightly season with pepper or seasoning of your choice. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

4. Cut the strawberries and portion fruit in single portion containers. Microwave frozen edamame as directed on the bag (usually steams in bag or in microwave safe bowl for 1-4 minutes). Allow to cool and drizzle with 2 tsp. olive oil and seasoning of your choice. Likely potatoes are ready to be removed from oven (ready when fork pierces gently through the potato). While potatoes are cooling begin cleaning dishes used and your work area. 

5. Assemble meals in single serve containers and clean reminder of the dishes and you are ready for the week in under one hour! 

* During meal prep you may also have time to begin clean up in step 3 since only the strawberries needed cutting and the grapes were just removed from their stems* 

Time saving tip: 

- Use apples, oranges, bananas, or applesauce for your fruit option to eliminate chopping fruit and allow more time for clean up. 

 

Freezer Friendly Bean Burritos

laura lomax

 Filled with flavorful slow cooked black beans, melted cheese, and roasted broccoli these freezer friendly burritos are a must add recipe to add to your meal prep rotation!&nbsp;

Filled with flavorful slow cooked black beans, melted cheese, and roasted broccoli these freezer friendly burritos are a must add recipe to add to your meal prep rotation! 

I am a huge fan of freezer friendly meals. I mean honestly who doesn't love having home cooked meals ready and waiting after a long day?!? Working with families with inflammatory bowel disease one of the biggest challenges are finding recipes that respect food tolerances and dietary restrictions that the WHOLE family can enjoy.  Being a mom with Ulcerative Colitis I definitely relate to this challenge.  It is difficult to prepare multiple meals for multiple family members based on food preferences and dietary modifications. That is one of the many reasons I love this recipe. Since the burritos are single severe each family member can modify the foods they prefer or tolerate in their burritos and have them prepared and labeled for an easy weeknight meal that simple needs to be microwaved. When it comes to burritos the combos for ingredients are endless so feel free to be creative when you prepare your own. This recipe takes you through preparing homemade beans, but canned low sodium beans can be substituted to save time. Additional ingredients that work well include chicken, rice, and a variety of vegetables. 

FREEZER FRIENDLY BEAN, CHEESE, AND ROASTED BROCCOLI BURRITOS

Prep time (not including soaking): 15 minutes for beans + 20 minutes for burrito building 

Cook time: 4-5 hours 

Serving size: 15 burritos (5 cups of beans)

INGREDIENTS:

Beans:

3 cups water 

5 cups low sodium chicken broth or homemade chicken stock 

16 oz bag black beans, *quick soaked or overnight soaked*

5 cloves of garlic, sliced 

2 onions, chopped 

1 tsp. salt 

1 tsp. cumin 

1/2 cup cut cilantro leaves, chopped (not packed)

Roasted Broccoli

3 3/4 cups broccoli, chopped

1-2 tbsp. olive oil 

Salt and pepper  

Additional Ingredients:

2 cups cheddar, Monterrey Jack blend or diary free cheese  

15 tortillas 

Freezer Prep Materials: 

Wax Paper, 12 - 12 x12 inch pieces 

Foil, 12 - 12 x 12 inch pieces 

Permanent marker 

1-2 freezer bags 

Directions: 

*Soak beans overnight or with quick soak method. Before each method sort and rinse beans.  For the quick soak: Boil ~ 8-10 cups of water then add beans. Allow beans to boil for ~ 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let soak for 1 hour. Drain beans and rinse under fresh water. For overnight method: Add the beans to ~8-10 cups of water and allow to soak overnight. In the morning drain water and rinse beans. Soaked beans are now ready to be prepared* 

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Take the soaked beans and add them along with the water, chicken broth, garlic, onions, salt, cumin, and cilantro to the cooking pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and allow to cook for 5 hours. Beans will thicken as they cook.  Beans can be served whole or mashed for more of a "refried" appearance. 

As the beans finish cooking (~ the last 30 minutes of cook time) prepare the roasted broccoli. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place broccoli on baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. After tossing spread broccoli across the baking sheet leaving space between each piece. Roast vegetables until vegetables are slightly soft with a small bit of charring. Cook time ~ 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. 

Once beans and broccoli are cool begin burrito building. Warm tortillas slightly to prevent cracking. Add 1/3 cup beans, 1/4 cup broccoli, and 2 tbsp. cheese to each tortilla. Fold to secure filling. Wrap burrito in wax paper followed by foil for freezing. Label each burrito with date, filling, and preparation instructions with sharpie marker.  For freezer organization place all of the wrapped burritos in a freezer plastic bag to secure burritos in one place and create ease in freezer friendly meal inventory. 

When ready to enjoy remove burritos from freezer, remove foil and waxed paper, and wrap loosely in a papertowel and heat for 1-2 minutes.  

 

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Baked Chicken Tenders

laura lomax

Servings: 6

Servings size: 2 tenders

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 30 minutes. Total time: 40 minutes

1.5 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast sliced into 1/2 inch stripes or boneless skinless chicken breast tenders

2 Egg

3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs                            

¼ cup Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp. McCormick salt free original all-purpose seasoning or Penzey Mural of Flavor

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

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Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray. In a small bowl beat the egg. In a different bowl combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, All-purpose seasoning, salt, and pepper. To prepare the chicken dip the chicken tender in egg then coat in breadcrumb mixture. Place on the baking sheet and repeat for the remixing chicken tenders.  Place in the preheated oven and cook for ~ 20-30 minutes (depending on thickness of tenders. Serve alone or with your favorite dipping sauce.