Diet and Health, food prep

Transition Meal Prep

920x920Transitions are a part of life and I’ve found that learning how to recognize them and manage them is helpful in keeping momentum. We’re so often surprised that they happen, but they always do. Here are mine right now:

Transition #1: Of course the seasons are beginning to change, even here in the San Joaquin Valley where autumn lasts about three weeks and happens around November. But cooler temps usually mean different food and exercise patterns. Warmer meals, cooler mornings, darker evenings, and all of that.

Transition #2: My body went through its second weight loss plateau and slow down this summer, so I put it on maintenance mode for July and the first half of August to give it some time to readjust to the new normal. I did very well with the bit of wiggle room, but now in September I’m getting to know what it needs in terms of exercise and nutrition to keep  momentum going. I’ve got 25 lbs to lose until I reach 100 lbs gone. The weight is coming off more slowly, but it is back to steady.  I also signed up to walk a 5k on Thanksgiving Day and have been doing more strength training and HIIT walk/runs to get ready for it.

Every three months, I like to “level up” my eating patterns anyway, so now seems like the perfect time to make that happen. I do a level up gradually over about 3 weeks or so to make sure I’m making changes I like, can stick to, and can live with long-term.

My meal preps for most of the summer have been pretty consistent:

Breakfasts:

  • Greek yogurt (2/3 c) with berries (1 cup) and a tsp of honey
  • Rolled Oats “Cereal” – really a muesli made with 1/2 c rolled oats, 1/4 c whole almonds, and 1/4 c dried cranberries with 2/3 c whole milk poured over and eaten like a cereal.

Lunches:

Dinners:
Anything that can be made quickly and cheaply with an eye for leftovers and easily portion controlled.

Last week was obviously Mexicanish Week:

Then add in Robertitos burritos once a week and the occasional run to Panda Express or The Broilers and that’s my summer.

But now I’m looking at ways to straighten up my nutrition and mindset around food a little more in the next three months.

I’ve decided to change up my breakfasts and lunches a little at a time, looking for ways to trim back just a tad week by week. I want to keep my fruit/vegetable intake up (which was my level up from last spring), but I’d like to add a little more variety than the jar salads give me. (NB: I’ve loved my jar salads all summer. I won’t give them up completely! I’ve even researched some warm salad recipes for when the weather calls for it.)

 

Anyway, here’s my first week’s transition to autumn meal plan:

B’fast:

  • Greek Yogurt and pineapple (instead of berries). No honey. (lower sugar, the pineapple is plenty sweet).
  • Overnight oats with bananas, sliced almonds, cranberries and spices. (Added an extra fruit to my breakfasts).

Lunches:

  • Farmer Sandwich. This one I can eat grilled if it is cool enough to do so. It’s a yummy panini!
  • Greek Chicken Bowls with Greek Salad and Tzaziki. Inspired by this meal prep, I just got some pre-cooked chicken breast and marinated them in lemon juice, olive oil and some herbs for 20 minutes (easier than cooking). Then I put them in individual containers with a  portion of brown rice (1/3 cup) so I can heat it up.  I also made an easy cucumber/tomato/onion salad and put in jars to keep all week. After I heat up the chicken and rice, I’ll drop the salad to the side. For lunch it will be 4 oz of chicken, 1/3 cup of rice, 1.5 cups of salad, and 2 tbs of tzaziki to pull it together.

Dinners:
Not doing a huge transition here. Still keeping things easy and as balanced as I can muster.

  • BLTs – I love me a good BLT on a grilled multigrain with seasoned mayo, spinach (instead of lettuce) and fresh tomatoes. It runs about 500 calories and is pretty filling for me.
  • Taco Soup – Easiest soup ever – you literally just open cans, mix, and heat – and tons leftover. I leave out the canned chicken and sometimes replace the cream of chicken soup with some sour cream or greek yogurt to level it up. Leaving out the chicken puts it at under 200 calories per 1.5 cup (although when you add a dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips it goes up). It keeps for a week in the fridge.
  • Parm Chicken Breast and Sweet Potato – a variant on this Sheet Pan Meal. One of our favorites. Adding in some sweet potatoes to welcome autumn! This is a good sheet-pan recipe to make double portions and have leftovers the next night.
  • Weekly Robertitos Run – For those of you in Fresno who want to know. I get a refried bean and cheese burrito from them every week. It is one of my comfort foods. I’ve literally deconstructed it and it measures out at around 490 calories. Just FYI.

I feel like this is a good first step in the transition to autumn. A little more sweet potato, some warm oats in the morning, a soup. . . it’s a good start and one that puts me at about 1450 calories a day on average (if you care about such things).

My food prep today took 35 minutes and consisted of:

  • Marinating the pre-cooked chicken from Trader Joe’s 20 minutes in fridge while . . .
  • Making the Greek Salad and putting it in jars
  • Slicing an apple for the Farmer Sandwiches and putting it in the fridge
  • Putting a pouch of TJs brown rice in the microwave for 3 minutes.
  • Slicing the pineapple for the yogurt breakfasts and putting it in the fridge
  • Compiling the overnight oats for the week and putting them in jars (w/o milk) to store in fridge
  • Putting chicken and rice in containers and stacking them in the fridge for lunches.
  • Made a list of everything I have at hand for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks to put on the fridge and in my phone. Sometimes it helps me to remind myself what options I already have and am ignoring rather than spending more money for more food down the line.

 

Tootle pip:
HP

 

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