Often times I get more questions on meal prepping than I do on macros. It seems as though people are overwhelmed with the idea of cooking all of their food at one time. My schedule is not very flexible, I can’t run home and throw something in the oven at lunchtime. Once I am at work, I am there and my microwave is my only option…well that and the cafeteria food (no thank you). Once I get home, the idea of spending over an hour preparing and cooking food, 30 minutes cleaning it up, and then packing lunches for the following day is not appealing either.
For me, cooking all of my food on Sunday morning is the best option. I spend two to three hours in the kitchen busting tail to get it all cranked out. I throw lots of new recipes into the mix because I do not like to eat the same thing every day. There are foods I would eat every day, but I like to keep it interesting. I know for me, I would get tired of just chicken 5 days a week and would likely fall off the wagon every weekend.
By keeping my meals interesting and healthy during the week, I eat more plain and boring on the weekends. One, I don’t like to cook on the weekends. I cook enough on Sunday to last me all week. Two, the simpler the meals the easier they are to track and tracking restaurant food can be very difficult to navigate.
The first thing I do is plan my menu. My menu is strategic and it is everything. I look at the weather, sale paper, macros, and ingredients to determine what I will be eating. If it is going to be raining and cold all week I am definitely going to plan food to fit that. There is nothing better than a bowl of soup or chili when it is cold out. The same for fun sunny weather, I will plan a fun fresh spring/summer dish. If salmon is on sale, we will definitely be having that. I wait for a lot of meats to go on sale because I need a lot of meat to cover supper and lunches. When we cooked salmon this past week I got 2.5 pounds and could have used a little bit more after the kids got into it. Pork butts are on sale this week, so I am definitely going to have pork on the menu.
When I look for new recipes, I don’t commit until I check the ingredients list first. Professional food pictures are great and that is what gets me interested, but I have to make sure it is do-able first. I make changes to every single recipe I use, but some recipes are too complicated for a small window of cooking. Some recipes have too many extras that if I were to change them it would alter the dish too much or blow my macros out of the water if I didn’t make any changes. When there is an unfamiliar ingredient on the list, I look it up and see what the macros are. I look to see how much the recipe is calling for and if I can adjust it enough to still get the flavor but not have all the extra calories and macros.
I never like for a dish to be more than 500 calories, 300-400 is an ideal range of calories for me to consume per meal so I have room for my snacks and pre/post-workout meals. Knowing that is so powerful. I can create a recipe in my macro app and see what it would be if I cooked it or I can go to past recipes and see what the macros were to see what would fit well for me that week.
One strategy I use when I am cooking is to start my less labor-intense meals first. First thing though, you need some coffee or hot tea (I am a coffee lover but lately I am loving hot tea). I will put the water on to boil for any rice or noodles, turn the oven on, then start chopping. Cutting up vegetables seems to take longer than anything else. I will get my sheet pans going in the oven, then put any meat on the stove that needs to cook solo.
I used to cook my chicken breast in the oven, but found myself constantly having to check it. I like low-maintenance meals that I don’t constantly have to check on because when meal prepping starts, a chicken breast in the oven can be easily forgotten. This is why I started cooking my chicken breasts on the stovetop covered. My chicken usually cooks faster and is super juicy, plus you will be amazed at how much water cooks out of your chicken.
After I get everything going, I focus on my new recipe(s). I don’t like to be rushed when cooking something new, because I don’t want to skip a step, so I wait until I am near the end of my cooking to start anything new. Cooking like this can be intense, my Whoop strap thinks I am working out most Sunday mornings when I am cooking. It is not a relaxing easy night of cooking (like it was before I had kids) and I am okay with that. Those nights were nice but it just wouldn’t fit my lifestyle now.
For me, meal prepping is more about the prep before the actual cooking starts. Having my meals planned out is the key to our success. I don’t throw a dart at a board of recipes, although sometimes I wish I could, I thoughtfully pick out what we are going to be having. From time to time I pick a recipe that is over 500 calories and we have to skip a snack, that isn’t ideal, but it is doable.
New Food Review
Sheet Pan Korean Chicken Bowls + Sweet Potatoes + Yum Yum Sauce This dish was wonderful and can be compared to a bowl version of the Thai rice noodle bowl I often make. I liked that it had more consistency than the soup but had fewer calories and macros.
Warm Asparagus Salad This wasn’t a new recipe, but it was new that I turned it into a bowl. Usually, I eat this dish as a side dish, but it was great as a bowl. I don’t love the asparagus warmed back up in the microwave, but it was okay.
M E N U
Pulled Pork Sandwich
I am really excited to try these! I have been really wanting some new taco recipes that aren’t too complicated. I love that there is a sauce with this one, that I can make completely healthy. I also like the idea of using ground beef. We made those box tacos it seemed like every week when I was growing up, this will be a nice nod to the 7,000 El Paso seasoned tacos I had growing up, just better.
*Changes I make to meet my macros
Ingredients: 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 pound ground chicken, beef, or turkey *ground beef 1 yellow onion, chopped 2-3 teaspoons chipotle chili powder, use to your taste 2 teaspoons smoked paprika 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, use to your taste 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon kosher salt 12 hard shell tacos (see notes for homemade option) 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese CILANTRO LIME RANCH 1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt *non fat Greek yogurt 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon onion powder 1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped + 2 tablespoons brine juice from 2 limes 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pulled Pork Sandwich
There is no link for this recipe because it is so simple that you don’t need anything to guide you. I love being able to get a pork butt to cook it one way and make two completely different meals. Usually, I will have a sandwich and tacos on the menu to use up the whole pork butt. I am planning on freezing half of the meat for tacos next week.
I cook the meat in the crockpot for 8 hours on low. To season, I evenly coat all sides with yellow mustard, then season with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and paprika. Once the meat is cooked thoroughly, let it cool and then separate the meat from the fat. It really does defeat the purpose of healthy tacos and sandwiches if you leave the fat in there. Plus it is just gross.
I do not add the BBQ sauce until I am ready to eat each serving. I make sure to weigh out my sauce for every sandwich before I put on the bun. I make sure to get a low carbohydrate sauce, so I don’t over waste too many of my carbs on the sauce. Simply put the bowl on the scale, weigh out the meat and the sauce in grams or ounces, depending on the nutritional label. Toast your bun, top with the meat, and pickles, and enjoy!
*Changes I make to meet my macros
Ingredients: 1 Boston Butt Paprika Salt Pepper Yellow Mustard Onion Powder Chili Powder Garlic Powder Brioche Bun Pickles Low Carbohydrate BBQ Sauce
The spaghetti sauce I use is adapted from a bolognese lasagna sauce. It is a thicker sauce, with lots of meat and vegetables.
To make the sauce, dice the onion and bell pepper, and saute’ with the minced garlic until soft. Add the mushrooms to the pan (mushrooms are not in the lasagna). Once the mushrooms have cooked down, drain any excess water. Add the vegetables to a large pot, along with the canned tomatoes. Once the meat has cooked thoroughly, drain and add to the tomatoes and vegetables.
Stir in the milk and wine, if you are going to put those in. Let the spaghetti simmer on low. Add the tomato paste to thicken the sauce if needed. The amount of tomato paste you add depends on how thick you want your sauce to be. I use to add the whole milk and wine but have recently opted out of putting it in. It is delicious with or without the wine and milk.
I like to add dried oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, parsley, and any other Italian herbs I have on hand. I don’t use noodles anymore with my spaghetti. If you still want noodles, Carba-nada is a great low-carbohydrate noodle option!
Once I tried spaghetti squash I never went back. It really is not that difficult to make. I cut my squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, spray with olive oil and bake in the oven on 425 degrees until I can stick a skewer all the way through the squash to the outside (not through the outside). I allow the squash to cool and then use a fork to scrape noddle-like strands out of the squash. 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash is 42 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.5 grams of fat.
Ingredients: 4 cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes 1 can Tomato Paste (about 1 cup) 3 cloves Garlic 1 Yellow Bell Pepper (diced) 1 Onion (diced) 8 ounces Mushrooms (diced) 2-4 pounds 80/20 cooked and drained (depending on amount of people serving, I use 3.5 pounds typically and always have leftovers for the kids) 8 ounces Whole Milk (optional) 4 ounces Red Wine (optional) Italian Herbs 3-4 spaghetti squash or noodles of your choice
You can make this with chicken as a sheet pan or use the extra meat from the pork butt as your protein. I actually prefer the pork over chicken.
Tomatillos can be hard to find around here sometimes, but you can substitute with jarred salsa verde. It really hasn’t made much of a difference when I have had to substitute, other than I like the fresh-roasted taste. I still added in the roasted garlic, jalapeno, and green onion in the blender with the Verde topped it off with pineapple, and it was still a great salsa. I only use 1/4th to 1/3rd cup of pineapple in each bowl so the carbohydrates aren’t too high.
For the pork butt, I cook the meat in the crockpot for 8 hours on low. To season, I evenly coat all sides with yellow mustard and season with salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and paprika. Once the meat is cooked thoroughly, let it cool and then separate the meat from the fat. It really does defeat the purpose of healthy tacos and sandwiches if you leave the fat in there.
*Changes I make to meet my macros
Ingredients: 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips *pork butt 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil *omit 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder 2 teaspoons smoked paprika 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder kosher salt and black pepper 2 bell peppers, sliced 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced 6-8 small flour tortillas, warmed *low carb/high fiber or 1/2 cup cooked jasmine rice per bowl *limes for topping ROASTED PINEAPPLE SALSA VERDE 6 small tomatillos, husked *salsa verde if no tomatillos 1 jalapeño 4 green onions juice of 1 lime 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped *add garlic 1 cup diced pineapple *1/2 cup per bowl For the pork butt: 1 Boston Butt Paprika Salt Pepper Yellow Mustard Onion Powder Chili Powder Garlic Powder
This chicken salad is not like your local chicken salad sandwich with mayo, pecans, and grapes. Honestly, it is boring and very healthy. You MUST season this dish like there is no tomorrow and add some hot sauce to the wrap as well. I like to drizzle sriracha on my chicken salad once I have it wrapped up in a low carb, high fiber tortilla shell.
I always boil chicken breasts or cook covered on the stovetop, just because it is easier when meal prepping. If you aren’t worried about macros or meal prepping, a whole rotisserie chicken would be much easier. If you boil the chicken it will be pretty bland from so make sure to season it a lot more than normal when you cut it up to mix with the sauce.
I love that this meal doesn’t have any actual mayo. You make your own with egg, lemon juice, and dijon mustard. I don’t use any oil in this mayo and it makes it low calorie and cut friendly. The last time I made this I had 26.8 ounces of cooked chicken breast. It made 6 servings, each at 134 calories, 27.1 grams of protein, 0.3 grams of carbohydrates, and 2.7 grams of fat, without a tortilla. Make sure to grab a low carbohydrate tortilla. The ones I use are only 50 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of protein. Not too bad compared to the normal 45 grams of protein that most tortillas have.
*Changes I make to meet my macros
Ingredients: 1 whole roasted chicken or 2 pounds of chicken *chicken breast ½ cup finely chopped celery Juice from 1 lemon (about 2-3 Tablespoons) ⅓ - ½ cup Paleo mayonnaise (see recipe below) ¼ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper 1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning Mayo 1 large egg, at room temperature (very important to be at room temperature) 2 teaspoons lemon juice, at room temperature 1 cup light olive oil (or 1/2 cup olive oil + 1/2 cup avocado oil) *omit oil 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard, optional