In this weekly series, “Meal Prep Friday,” I want to show you how do-able it is to eat healthfully throughout the week with wholesome meals if you put a little effort into planning and prepping in advance. I will share with you my weekly “game plan,” my purchases at the store, and any helpful tricks and tips I’ve learned along the way. Let’s get cookin’!
Hey guys! TGIF!!
I'm so glad you're back for more Meal Prep Friday! From the comments and feedback I received last week, I feel even more encouraged and motivated to keep this series alive and active ;). So let's get to what I prepped (last weekend) and the meals we enjoyed this week.
But first, because I really do want this to be an interactive series where we swap ideas, share recipes, etc., I want to ask you - how much do you spend on your groceries a month? Do you have a set budget or are you more lenient with your spending?
I ask because ever since the Hungryman and I started Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey with our church small group, we've become a lot more aware of our spending. To help keep track of where our $$ is going, I've been using an app called "Good Budget," and I've absolutely been loving it so far (any fans out there?). It uses an "envelope" system, that Dave Ramsey also talks about, in which you create various envelopes (e.g. groceries, gas, entertainment, etc.) and allot a certain dollar amount to each. What's also really neat is that you can sync between mobile devices and the web so that you, your spouse, or whoever else, can monitor activity and thus keep each other in check.
Dave Ramsey also emphasizes the importance of "feeling" our money as it will help us be more connected to it, minimizing frivolous spending. Therefore, we've slowly started paying with cash instead of mindlessly swiping our credit cards on every occasion. Such excellent students we are 😉 (nerd alert!). Our next step - getting rid of all our credit cards (except one). We are definitely learning a lot through this program and are really looking forward to being on top of our finances this year.
I say all this because each week I want to share not only about what I purchased at the grocery store, but also how much I spent total. After our budget meeting, we agreed that when it comes to grocery bills, we'll take a more generous approach, even if it means cutting back on other things, like online shopping (NOO!! Tell me it isn't so!). That's because we really see purchasing high quality foods as an investment. Eat better now --> less medical bills to pay down the road.
Moving right along, here's what I got this week. I normally go to Trader Joe's for produce and HEB for pantry staples. But I can't wait to start up my biweekly CSA box (<-- click to see my previous boxes) again come summer.
Total $$ spent: $35.24. This is actually pretty low for us, but that's because I didn't purchase any protein sources (usually eggs, chicken breast, beef, fish, beans), which are what really spike up the bill. When making my grocery list on Friday, I knew I had plenty stocked in my fridge and freezer this time around. So if you aren't doing so already...check your pantry before going shopping! Although I, too, am guilty of buying things I already have on hand.
I decided not to cook too much this week as the wonderful folks at Snap Kitchen sent us some meals to sample. We really enjoyed the variety of selections, and they were the perfect meals for the Hungryman to take to work.
As usual, I roasted my veggies. I'm still in love with rainbow carrots, and of course, my ultimate favorite - sweet potatoes. #iheartrootvegetables
I washed and prepped all my veggies the moment I brought them home from the store. Then some went into Mason jars while the rest were either stored separately in individual containers or, as in the case with greens, placed in a ziplock bag with paper towels (after they were washed and spun vigorously in a salad spinner to dry).
This week's Mason jars (tutorial coming!!) included zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots, chickpeas for him, adzuki beans for her, and greens. I leave some room at the top so I can add the protein source(s) the day of. I know there are many ways to build a Mason jar salad, but I've found that the protein sources retain their integrity best when added on the day of consumption.
As for the chickpeas, I ALWAYS have them on hand. As I mentioned here, I cook a huge batch of beans once a month, store in individual containers, and freeze them. Thus, all I had to do this time around was take a container out of the freezer the night before. Easy peasy! I'm getting pretty low on my supply so I'll be cooking up a batch real soon.
Normally, I like to cook at least 2 actual meals during the week that are not salads (or more if I'm doing recipe development). Since we had the Snap Kitchen meals, I only made one dish this week - Curried Chicken and Carrot Couscous. I will be sharing the recipe this coming Monday on Healthy Aperture, where I contribute monthly to the "Make Ahead Meals" column. So hope you check it out because it's so so delicious.
To avoid eating couscous everyday, I froze some (separated into individual portions) to be enjoyed in upcoming weeks. I'm sure you can tell by now that the freezer is my best friend. I'll commonly do this with leftovers. I date each bag and try to eat the servings within a month or so. However, I'm a bit uncertain on this particular occasion as I don't know if this dish will freeze well. My main concern is that the couscous will no longer be fluffy and instead turn into mush. Whoops... I guess we shall find out. #trialanderror
In any case, taking advantage of your freezer is another way you can save time in the kitchen. My fellow RD friend, Lindsay, wrote a great post on 10 foods that freeze well so hope you'll pay her a visit.
Now here are some pictures of meals enjoyed during the week (can be seen on my Instagram as well)
I didn't cook the asparagus until the day I served it. I simply tossed it with some olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted it alongside a beautiful piece of salmon (thank you, Sizzlefish!) in my toaster oven.
That wraps up this week's Weekly Meal Prep. Come back next Friday to see a tutorial on how I make my Mason jar salads! Hope you have a blessed weekend!