For long-term fat loss and performance based nutrition, we not only need to consistently make the right food choices, but we need to make these healthy choices as easy as possible. The habit of a weekly food prep helps makes the best choices also the easiest choices. By ensuring we have protein and vegetables at our fingertips during the week, we also dramatically reduce our stress during the week. Your meals are ready for you in the morning, allowing you a few extra minutes to relax with a cup of coffee. After a hard workout, you can easily pick nutritious options to refuel your body. And after a busy day at work, you don’t find yourself needing to call your local pizza place for take-in. With a fridge full of prepared lean proteins and vegetables, even if we get sidetracked by life, if our water heater goes out, our car breaks down or our kids throw up everywhere – at least we know we will be giving our body the nutrients it needs to maintain muscle and optimize fat loss.
How it Works
This weeks Challenge is to food prep for your 5 – day work week of lunches. You get 5 points when you post an image of your completed food prep!
What to Do
Run your kitchen like a restaurant. Most neighborhood restaurants don’t cook every part of your meal to order. If they did, they’d never get the food to the table fast enough. Preparing parts of your meal in advance let you truly feel the difference between “cooking” and “making dinner”. Cooking is art, relaxation, experimentation and fun. Making dinner is more like “If I don’t’ get that food from its ingredient state into dinner state, and into my mouth soon, I’m going to murder someone.” Food preparation allows you to cook, making mid-week meals more calm and enjoyable.
With a little preparation, your family pre-dinner conversation could easily go like this:
You: Are you in the mood for Chinese, Mexican, or Italian?
Family: Mmmm… Mexican!
You: Beef or Chicken?
Then you simply pull the containers of ground beer, and steam-sautéed peppers and cabbage form the fridge. While they are warming up in a pan with a little oil, you can mix together some Mexican seasonings or grab some fresh salsa from the fridge, and voila. You’re eating dinner in about 10 minutes from fridge to table.
The cornerstone of your weekly cook up is protein. We have all experienced a fail in this area – and night when it was almost time for dinner, and you opened up your unprepared fridge. Either you found no protein at all – or the only protein you found was frozen solid. Suddenly you’re dialing for take-out. Fail. Instead, prepare your protein.
Grilled Chicken Thighs or Pork Chops. Fresh off the grill, this recipe gives you meats that are crisp and garlicky with a satisfying char. Dressed up with seasonings, sauces, and vegetables, the leftovers are so versatile, they’re easily transformed into a range of lip-smacking meals.
Ingredients: 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 2 pounds boneless pork chops; salt; ground black pepper; coarse garlic powder; paprika
Directions: Preheat a gas grill with all burners on high and the lid closed, about 10 minutes. Place the chicken/pork on a large platter or baking sheet in a single layer, smooth side facing up. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then add enough paprika for a little kick. Flip the meats and season the other side. If making pork chops, you will also want to brush with a little oil before seasoning. Place the meat smooth side down on the heated grill and close the lid. Cook 4-5 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 4 minutes with the lid closed. For pork chops, the cook time will likely be 3-4 minutes. The meat is done when the juices run clear and it has turned toasty brown on both sides.
Garlic-Browned Ground Meat. A pan of freshly browned meat is pure potential, a culinary blank canvas. Later, combined with vegetables and the right seasonings, this basic can be elevated to luscious international status.
Ingredients: 1 Tablespoon oil, 1 medium onion diced, 2 pounds ground meat (beef, bison, lamb, pork, turkey, or chicken), salt, ground black pepper, coarse garlic powder
Directions: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add oil and onion, cook until crisp-tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Crumble the ground meat into the pan with your hands, and then break up large chunks using a wooden spoon. Season generously with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Continue to cook and stir until the meat has no pink spots, about 7-10 minutes. If you’re not using grass-fed meat, drain the excess fat.
While any well-stocked fridge should have easy, “grab-able” veggies like baby carrots and baby tomatoes – there is a diverse world of vegetables out there just waiting for you. When you have time and access, pre-cooking vegetables on the grill is a fantastic option. For added versatility during your week, partially cooking vegetables is another great option – this allows you to season them as you deem fit later in the week. Once per week, make it your mission to clean and partially steam at least three different vegetables.
Ingredients: Your favorite vegetables, water
Directions: Wash your veggies under running water, then cut or slice into desired shape. It is best if you keep all pieces the same size so they will cook evenly. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss the still-wet-from-washing veggies into the pan, cover with a lid, and allow the residual water to soften the veg a bit. Remove the lid, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the veggie is softened but not completely cooked. If the veg sticks to the pan or begins to brown, add a tablespoon of water to continue the steaming process. Place each veggie in its own container and store in the fridge. When it’s time to eat, heat about 1-2 teaspoons of oil in your skillet, then toss in the partially cooked veggies and seasonings. No fuss, no muss, and no chopping right before dinner!
This method works best for fibrous, sturdy vegetables – NOT tender veggies like snap peas, snow peas, fennel, asparagus and spinach. Those should be “cooked to order”.
Try this method with:
Bell Pepper, sliced
Bok Choy, chopped
Brussels Sprouts, cut in half
Broccoli, in florets
Cabbage, sliced or chopped
Cauliflower, in florets
Celery, sliced thin
Collard Greens, chopped
Eggplant, sliced or chopped
Green beans, whole
Mustard Greens, chopped
Turnip Greens, chopped
Yellow Squash, sliced
TURNING “INGREDIENTS” INTO “DINNER”
Once your fridge is well stocked with cooked meats and partially steamed vegetables, here is your magic formula:
PER PERSON =
3-6 ounces of protein
+ 2 cups of vegetables
+ 1/2 Tablespoon fat
Ingredients: Per person, ½ Tablespoon oil, ¼ medium onion, diced, 1 clove garlic mined (pre-minced from Costco is great!), 3-6 ounces cooked protein, 2 cups of steam-sautéed veggies, salt, pepper, spices.
Directions: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add oil, onion and garlic, sauté for about 5 minutes. Add spices to the pan and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the protein and vegetables, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes.
Really in a hurry? Feel free to skip the onion and garlic. The flavors will have a little less depth, but your meal will still be tasty. You can also amp up the “breakfast” feel by adding some egg whites along with the protein and vegetables.