Weekly Meal Prep and Planning

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It's finally here!

I've been meaning to put this blog together for a while now. Actually, I wrote it last week and then it didn't save, so I'm technically writing it again. Yay. I'm pretty much creating this because 1) I love drawing letters around my food and 2) I have a lot of friends and family ask me about healthy eating in an accessible way.

Full disclaimer: I follow a mostly paleo diet, but I do NOT think there is any one diet that fits all. I personally have found that this is what gives me the most energy and wildly improves my skin, hair, nails, migraines, digestion, you name it. I say "mostly" paleo because I believe in balance and the joy that comes from a good bagel.

I may have directed you here if you were looking for Whole30 ideas, and I'll make references to that later as not everything here is Whole30 approved. Whole30 is an excellent 30-day elimination diet with the intention of giving your body a reset and identifying what foods cause inflammation in your body - it's not a lifestyle. It teaches you amazing habits, and helps you break the bad ones, but I don't think anyone should be that limiting with what they eat in everyday life, or even eat that much meat on a daily basis. (I try to eat more fish than meat, and I love inventive, creative plant-based meals.)

The big thing for me is eating whole, natural foods with no scary chemicals or preservatives, and ideally no added sugar. (Spoiler alert: there is added sugar in nearly every packaged food you buy. I would love to know whose idea it was to add sugar to chicken broth, pita chips, and spices. Yay, America.) Taking this step alone helps you become more mindful about what you're eating. A lot of people think this is really hard to do or has to be expensive, but in reality, it's very easy and affordable once you learn how and make a habit of cooking this way. And I'm going to explain how!

This is an outline of one of my typical weeks of meal prep.

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Here's the biggest thing with meal prepping: you want to make a bunch of things with complementary tastes, so you can use them together and create lots of unique meals where it doesn't feel like you're eating the same 4-6 foods all week long.

A few notes on this:

- This week pictured above, I made a cashew cheese sauce, but I didn't use it enough to justify making it in this food combination again. (I try to balance this all out to avoid any waste.) I would make ranch dressing instead, so I'm going to include that recipe and map this out as if that was part of it. The cheese sauce is good, but I like it more as a creamy alfredo on spaghetti squash or with meatballs.

- A few things I used that aren't pictured: Cashew milk, homemade. (Can use any milk or nut milk, though.) Siete cassava coconut flour tortillas. (Can find in whole foods for $8 or so, but I'm trying to make my own - stay tuned! These are not Whole30 because this. ) More avocados, always. Shrimp - can't prep that.

COMPONENTS (pictured above)

Massaged Kale. I buy lacinato/Tuscan/dinosaur kale (the greener the better) and tear into pieces. Then, I massage it with my hands, with olive oil and lemon.

Sweet Potato Fries. I do this every week! I like mine without the skin if they're in fry form, so I peel and chop a bunch of these at the start of the week. To cook, toss in olive oil and pink salt and put in the oven at 400 degrees until cooked to your heart's content. I like mine super crispy and less sweet. If you like them more sweet, take them out sooner.

Butternut Squash. Halve the squash, remove seeds and drizzle a little olive oil before placing it face down on parchment paper. I do this at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or so - honestly, I never measure anything. I'm the worst and that is probably not at all helpful for you. If you can stick a fork in it, it's done.

Guacamole. I swear by Chipotle's recipe, but I use sweet onions instead of red. Store with pits mixed in and lime on top for freshness.

Black Bean Dip. I use Lee from America's black bean dip recipe as a base, and adjust spices to what I'm in the mood for. My favorite is to add chipotle powder. **This is not Whole30 approved - legumes.**

Sweet and Spicy Brussels Sprouts. I like roasting these 3/4 of the way for prep and then popping them in the oven for a few minutes before eating them to make them extra crispy when served. When I made these sweet and spicy ones, I tossed with harissa and date syrup.

Chicken Salad. I roast chicken and then shred it in the food processor - or with a fork, the good ol' fashioned way. I also chop dill, celery and green onions. Then, I combine everything with pink salt and mayo, and it's the best chicken salad ever. You can also add grapes, apples, walnuts, jalapenos, etc. (Sometimes I leave out the mayo and add it as needed per meal, in case I want the chicken not as chicken salad. An example: if I know I want to make a buffalo chicken salad too.)

Mayo. Best. Mayo. Ever.

Ranch. Mayo + Cashew milk + dill + parsley + onion powder + garlic powder. Add chipotle powder for chipotle ranch. Add tomato paste for whatever you call ranch + ketchup (it's amazing).

MEALS

All of these things above can turn into all of these things below!

Salad with kale, chicken salad, butternut squash, and crispy brussels sprouts.

Buffalo chicken salad with kale, chicken salad and avocado. Mix the chicken salad, sans mayo, with a mixture of Frank's Hot Sauce and ghee. Dress with ranch.

Buffalo chicken quesadilla - same thing but on a tortilla, with the ranch on the side for dipping. Heat quesadilla in a frying pan, a few minutes per side. **For this and the next three, if you're on Whole30, just adapt to a bowl or to a lettuce wrap instead of using the tortilla.**

Black bean butternut squash quesadilla - this is all veggie but so filling! Put black bean dip and squash between two tortillas and heat in a pan. Chipotle ranch for dipping. Garnish with cilantro.

Shrimp quesadillas - same thing but add shrimp. Chipotle mayo and guac for dipping.

Shrimp or fish tacos with guacamole and black bean dip. Cook the shrimp/fish in chipotle powder or chili powder and lime. Heat the tortillas in a pan for a minute or so, so they're no longer flimsy and warm. Garnish with lime, cilantro, mango, jicama, cabbage.

Shrimp sauteed in garlic, ghee and red pepper flakes, over kale and butternut squash.

Sides

Sauteed kale - just throw the massaged kale and a little water in a sauce pan and cover. Add garlic if desired.

Brussels sprouts, from above.

Sweet potato fries, from above.

In Practice

I find that these are enough options to get me through most of my lunches and dinners. For additional meals, I usually have chicken soup or chili on hand, either prepped that week or frozen in single servings, or I do an easy meal of fish + kale with sweet potato on the side.

On the weekends, I like to try a new recipe or go out, so I don't typically plan for those days.

My favorite day to meal prep is Sunday, but let's be real - some weeks, it happens on Wednesday. I devote about 2-3 lazy hours to it and turn on the tv, music, or a podcast, and it doesn't feel like work.

I love the weeks when I meal prep because I save so much money by not getting takeout or eating out, and I get back time by not having to cook meals from scratch. YAY.

I hope this was helpful! Please let me know what you think and if you have any questions, or if there is anything you'd like to see in a future post! :)