Monday, April 2, 2012

Be Prepared

We can all learn a lesson or two from Scar.
I'm a full time student with a part time job. On weekdays, most often I'm leaving my house in the morning around 7am and not returning home until 11pm. The idea of purchasing most of my meals randomly throughout the day is unheard of for me. Buying food a la carte, whether it's fast food or healthy food adds up. It will never be as inexpensive as food shopping for the way I eat. I eat 5 to 6 times a day. Also, when I prepare my food myself - I know the ingredients, the nutrition content and the calorie count. Or at least I have a better general idea than I would if I was getting all of my food elsewhere. So - as a nutrition (I care about what I eat) student (I'm extremely poor), prepping and taking my food with me daily is necessary.

Although it may be necessary, that doesn't make it easy. I'm not a morning person at all. The fact that I have to be exiting my home at 7am is already quite a stretch for me. There is no way much of anything productive gets done before I leave in the morning. So not only do my meals for an entire day need to be prepped, they need to be prepped the night before. As you can imagine - with this kind of schedule, I don't have much time for cooking during the week. I pretty much need everything to be as "grab and go" as possible to make it work. So, for any of you in a similar situation, I though I would share with you what I do to prepare for my week.

1) I happen to eat the same basic things every day/ every other day which makes my prep slightly easier. If you have to have completely different foods daily, I don't know how to help you. That's not cost effective for me and I also don't have a problem eating the same things daily so I just stick with that. It's not the exact same every day, but it's the same general pool of food choices that I'm pulling from.

2) Cook everything. For this week's prep - I cooked chicken and turkey bacon, made egg quiche and steamed quinoa in the rice cooker. For the egg and the quinoa, I didn't even have to do much except wait for them to cook. The meat takes slightly more effort but I just cooked that while the quiche was in the oven and the quinoa was in the rice cooker. Multi-tasking.

3) Slice stuff. If you have veggies you'll be using as snacks or in a salad, slice them now if they'll make it the week. If they can't make it that long, slice what you need for the next couple of days. I sliced my tomato for my breakfast sandwich.

4) Store stuff. Tupperware is your best friend. Once you've cooked all this food, you need somewhere to put it. Buy a bunch of tupperware of appropriate sizing you can use to store your food for the week. Make snack bags for anything that comes in mass quantities like pretzels or nuts. Make several bags now so they're ready to grab and go during the week.

Oatmeal is quick, semi-convenient
and nutritious meal choice.

5) Prepare your meals for the next day the night before. I structure my meals/snacks into my day so I can plan the night before what I'll eat when for the next day. Whatever is non perishable can be packed in your lunchbag and ready to go. Place the other stuff in one location in an easy grabbable spot in the fridge.

6) Pick your battles. I know this method is not always the "freshest" or the the most palatable for everyone. Again, for my lifestyle - this works and this is the way it has to be. I try to minimize the amount of processed food I eat, but there is still some. And I don't beat myself up for it. I need to find a way that I can eat what I can afford, what fits into my schedule and what also fits my personal guidelines for health. Buying locally farmed, organic only food would be heaven - but it's not realistic for my lifestyle. The tomato that I buy may not be of the perfect quality, but it's still a tomato and not ketchup. And technically you should use the entire tomato the same day that you cut it. I sliced mine and will use it throughout the week. And I'm not gonna feel bad about that. Don't get so anal with your rules of food that you begin to think that the tomato you're eating was a bad choice. It's not.

Here's what I prepped for my week.

Cooked 6oz chicken
Cooked 1 package turkey bacon
Cooked one rice cooker of quinoa
Cooked 4 cups of egg white quiche
Bagged 5 bags of 1 serving of almonds
Bagged 5 bags of 1 serving of oatmeal

Other stuff I have:
Granola Bars
Sparkling Water
Protein Powder
Frozen Fruit
Whole Grain Bread
Carrots and Parsnips
Frozen Vegetables
Black Beans
Peanut Butter
Sugar Free Gum

And here's what a typical day of meals looks like for me:
Breakfast: Egg Quiche (egg whites, spinach, mushroom, onion, pepper) on an Ezekiel 7 Grain Muffin with a tomato slice, turkey bacon and mustard

Snack: Cliff granola bar (not the meal bar, the granola bar) and a small apple

Lunch: Quinoa with broccoli and black beans

Snack: Chobani plain greek yogurt with fruit or fruit jelly, almonds

Dinner: Plain oatmeal with peanut butter and banana

Post-Workout: Vanilla protein with sparkling water and frozen fruit

I bake an egg quiche for
breakfast for the week.
Now, also important to remember is that my diet is not your diet. My choices are based on my palate, my nutrition preferences, my physiological needs and my time and budget. I eat meat, dairy and carbs. I don't have a gluten sensitivity and I'm not morally opposed to animal products, so I do what I do. There's not a right or wrong, there are choices. And we are all free to make our own. Ain't it grand! And you're not locked in to any one way of doing things. Try something out, and if it doesn't work for you CHANGE IT. How will you know unless you try it first though?

So, what are your tips for being prepared? Do you do something differently? Any other pieces of advice to help us busy but wanna be healthy people? Would love to have you share your thoughts and questions below!

Sweet C

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