I recently posted an awkward photo of myself on Instagram stories where I’m standing in front of our kitchen counters prepping food and smiling with a spoon in my hand. In my defense, it was Sunday and I had just returned from a crazy grocery store trip, and out of nowhere Chad says, “go stand by the food! I’m taking a picture!” Uh, okay. I grabbed my spoon because why wouldn’t I? – And then this beauty was born.
I mostly received two types of dm’s after posting: 1) people laughing at me because of that dang spoon, and 2) people wanting to know what I was cooking.
I promised the latter I would put together some details on my meal prep from this past week and hopefully that will spark some creativity and meal ideas of your own! That way, if you’re just starting out with meal prep, or looking to add some variety to your menu, then hopefully some of these ideas will make the cut.
Keep in mind, I may do things a little differently than most. For starters, I’m totally fine with eating the same thing every single day. If I have something I like – I don’t need variety in the day to day. Instead, I opt for variety week to week. Also – while I’m prepping my meals, I’m also prepping “extras” for Chad and sometimes Coop. I’ll explain more as I go through each of these individually. Another thing, is that these meals aren’t the only things I eat in a day. They’re just already balanced based on my personal macro goal to fit four of the five-six meals that I eat on a daily basis. I like to have four that are prepped ahead of time, which gives me the freedom to flex my other two meals. That’s especially helpful if I have a busy day or I’m on the go – I can grab something and take with me as I’m rushing between appointments. That’s also where I can add a little variety into my day – with those two other meals.
I also only prep enough meals for five days. Saturday is my day to not really track my food (I don’t consider this a cheat day, it’s more of a relax/reset day where I focus on intuitive eating), and then Sunday is spent eating any leftovers and prepping for the upcoming week.
I love oatmeal. I can eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack. It’s a great whole grain that’s full of health benefits, but it’s also delicious. What I don’t love is buying the instant oatmeal and getting all of the added sugar that usually comes right along with it. Don’t get me wrong – some of those instant oatmeals are delicious. But I try not to eat them every single day. That’s why I like having this as an option and relying on fresh fruit and healthy fats as my additives.
All of the measurements will be different based on your needs, but here is how I prep mine:
I buy a bag of gluten-free oats. Sometimes I opt for steel cut, sometimes I don’t. I measure out how many servings are appropriate for my needs, and then I cook via the directions on the bag/box. Once the oatmeal is done, I weigh out the final product and divide between five different containers.
I like to add fresh fruit to mine, so I’ll also measure/weigh out my blueberries and put them in little baggies or containers so I can grab one each morning (I weigh out 50 grams of fresh blueberries). One thing I have learned is to NOT do this with your banana. If you cut your banana and put it in the fridge, it will get brown and mushy, and it’s pretty gross. So I just portion my banana that morning. I also like to add one tablespoon of almond butter to the top, and my breakfast is set.
I usually enjoy this meal with a cup of coffee and one-two tablespoons of dairy free creamer (my current go-to is Nutpods Peppermint Mocha).
This meal right here is my current FAVORITE, and probably the one meal that hasn’t varied much week to week. It’s honestly a staple and I look forward to it every day. Sometimes I eat it right after my workout as my second meal of the day, and other times I leave it for my last meal to give myself something really yummy to look forward to.
There’s a lot of ways you can alter this recipe to fit your tastes, but here is what I like to do:
- Cook 2 pounds of ground chicken (I usually end up cooking closer to 4 pounds because the extra meat that I don’t use, I’ll put in a container and that’s what Chad and Cooper will use for a lot of their protein throughout the week. While my chicken is cooking, I also cook up one-two pounds of ground beef for more of Chad and Cooper’s weekly meals).
- Variation idea: instead of ground chicken, you can opt for ground turkey, ground beef, pork, or chicken breast instead. Sometimes I’ll throw chicken breast in the crockpot and let it cook all day on low heat. Once it’s finished, I’ll shred with two forks and have shredded chicken in place of the ground chicken.
- While the meat is cooking, I’ll chop up two sweet potatoes into smaller cubes and throw them in the airfryer. I cook those at 400 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until soft.
- Variation idea: instead of sweet potatoes, opt for whole grain brown (or white) rice, taco shells, or tortilla chips to give it a little variety. You could even use cauliflower rice if you wanted to save your starchier carbs for a different meal.
- When the chicken is finished cooking, add your taco seasoning, a little water, and let simmer on low for a few minutes.
- That’s it! I add shredded lettuce, almond cheese, salsa, and guacamole to mine – but I don’t measure those out in advance. You could measure out those portions and put into little containers, but I feel like that adds more work, and more importantly, more dishes that need to be washed, and I’m not down for that.
Quinoa Stir Fry
This is one meal that changes a lot for me week to week. I usually alternate between whole grain rice and quinoa, and I like to swap out my veggies. I sometimes like to opt for white or baby red potatoes, but I only do that on days I’m not already eating sweet potatoes. This is what I prepped for this week!
- Two pounds of chicken breast tenders – I cut into stir fry size pieces and cooked with a little cooking spray and spices on medium heat until done.
- Like the oatmeal, I measured out enough quinoa for the week and cooked according to the instructions on the package.
- While the quinoa and chicken were cooking, I chopped up two bags worth of sweet peppers and one medium sized onion. I put all of those pieces on a sheet pan, lightly sprayed with cooking spray, and covered in garlic salt and veggie seasoning. Cooked them at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. Then, I divided them all evenly.
- The last thing I do, once I’m getting ready to eat this meal, is I add a couple teaspoons of coconut aminos to give it that stirfry taste.
Sausage Stir Fry
Let’s be clear. In my mind, any protein mixed with veggies or carbs is a stir fry. And also, stir fries (??) are delicious. End of story. I will say if you end up making this meal you might want to double up on some of the ingredients. It didn’t yield nearly as many servings as I would have liked, so I ended up just making smaller serving sizes and supplementing with more food (like the 1/2 sweet potato pictured) to make sure I ate enough.
- Cook one pound of turkey sausage until done (or, two pounds if you’re doubling everything – I won’t repeat this for the rest of the steps but you’ll get the idea as you go).
- While the sausage is browning, in another pan sauté a bag of frozen (or fresh) broccoli florets, and a bag of shredded lettuce.
- Once the broccoli is soft, add in a bag of frozen cauliflower rice. I like Green Giant Riced Veggies Cauliflower Medley because it has little bits of peas and carrots already in it, as well.
- Add a little cooking oil if desired, and seasoning to taste (my go-tos are garlic salt, pepper, onion powder, and veggie seasoning).
- Once the sausage is done, add to the pan with the veggies and mix in well. Simmer on low for about five minutes to let all the flavors soak into one another.
Again – there’s SO MUCH variation you can use when it comes to these meals. I like to figure out my protein, and from there I build a meal. I pick a carb (usually between potatoes, rice, and quinoa), and veggies. From there, I figure out which fat I’ll be adding (cooking oil, ghee, sauces, or something on the side likes nuts, nut butters, etc). And voila (remember that fiasco?) – a meal is born.
Natasha Funderburk is a wife, #boymom, NASM-Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Consultant, and ACE-Behavior Change Specialist. When not watching her son play baseball, she can be found on various writing platforms, coaching her clients to live their best lives, drinking all the coffee, and conducting living-room dance parties.