Sunday, November 8, 2015

1 week meal prep PLUS a head start on Thanksgiving dinner, $98.47 at HEB!

When I was in PA school, my professors used to tell me to study smarter, not harder. I would sit in a classroom ALL day, sometimes up to and exceeding +/- 12 hours, and then go home to study more. I quickly learned to divide and conquer with some of my best friends. We did this by using study guides that were already created, or creating new ones by dividing the material within our group.

The same principles can be applied to meal prepping. Prep smarter, not harder. Many people ask me how I plan for a week, let alone grocery shop, prepare, AND use coupons. I will start from step 1 and walk through the process.

1. What is a meal?
When I first began to meal prep, I started with the first step - what constitutes a meal? The term "well balanced diet" was thrown around often, but I couldn't wrap my head around what that meant. About 3 years ago, as I am trying to familiarize myself with nutrition, a friend told me about the The 24 Day Challenge . This program became the foundation to what I follow to this very day.  The Daily Guide includes portion sizes and food suggestions, and the cookbook contains 34 pages of yummy recipes. I completed the first 24 days with my coach, and after that, it became a habit.

I simply learned to create a meal using a protein, vegetable, & complex carbohydrate.
With the above link, you can download this meal guide and cookbook, too! 

2. Where do I get recipes?
Pinterest, cookbooks, or simply pick one protein, one complex carb, and one veggie on that daily guide and cook with seasoning of your choice. I hardly EVER create my own recipes though. The most I do is substitute ingredients out for different ones, but the basic recipe outline was from another source. If you are cooking for yourself, remember that a typical meal has about 4 servings in it, so that is 4 meals checked off.

3. How do I save money?

I wrote a blog about meal prepping on a budget, that explains looking at ads, using coupons and rebates. That is how I shop every week. This week I took a look at the ads, and kept in mind what I had in stock already.
I wasn't planning on making salmon this week, but with this price, I couldn't pass it up. I purchased some and threw it in my freezer for a later date. 

Lettuce. This is how I ALWAYS buy my lettuce. It is this same great price week after week. As for the potatoes, I have a Thanksgiving dinner coming up, so I snagged some potatoes for that.

Broccoli! My husband LOVES broccoli, so I basically try to make it every week. 

WHAAAAAT! This made my day. I bought a ham for $30 (I'll make ham and soups and all sorts of yummy things later on!), and received a 12lb turkey for free. Thanksgiving is covered. :)

This receipt basically shows how CHEAP produce can really be, you just have to plan ahead. I splurged on Honeycrisp apples. Normal price is usually $2.47/lb though!!

I also got split chicken breasts at $1/lb, and Turkey wings for just over $1/lb.

4. What recipes can I use with these sales? 

-The ham and salmon were placed in the freezer for a later date.
-The turkey & potatoes = Saturday's "Friendsgiving"!
- The chicken was used to make slow cooker BBQ chicken & slow cooker chicken burritos.
-Black bean quesedillas and brown rice were on the menu since I had all of the ingredients to use up.
-The turkey wings were used to make gravy for friendsgiving, and after that, the meat was used for turkey noodle soup!

All of those meals at HEB for $98.47.

5. Final Product

This week I utilized 2 slow cookers. I removed the skin, fat, and bones from these chicken breasts and split them up between 2 slow cookers. The first slow cooker I poured in BBQ sauce of my choice until each piece of chicken was covered. I turned on high for 4 hours. The second slow cooker I followed the "Slow cooker chicken burrito" recipe from the 24 Day Challenge recipe collection (Link above). I turned that on high for 4 hours. 

While that was cooking, I baked sweet potatoes, steamed peas and broccoli, and made some fiesta brown rice.

As items cooked, I divided them and placed them in appropriate containers.

I forgot tortillas for the burritos, so I poured the chicken/salsa mixture over brown rice.

BBQ Chicken, broccoli, and sweet potato. 

While my slow cookers were cooking the above 2 meals, I started making the make ahead turkey gravy to prepare for Saturday. 

While that big ole' pan of turkey wings, veggies, and herbs baked in the oven, I started the black bean quesadillas.

VERY simple. You will need strained black beans (If you buy canned, get the ones without sodium added), cheese, corn tortillas, and some taco seasoning. Throw cooked (or canned) black beans in my blender with a splash of salsa & taco seasoning until peanut butter consistency. Spread on corn tortilla. Add a pinch of cheese and top with another corn tortilla. Spray frying pan with cooking spray, and cook quesadilla evenly on both sides. Voila! Pair with some of the fiesta rice from earlier and you have a complete protein.

Lastly, after the turkey wings were done baking, the broth was used to make the gravy for Saturday. I removed the turkey meat from the bones and used it in this delicious turkey noodle soup recipe. 

I hope this helps you learn to meal prep! Download those guides and start making balanced meals for yourself! Take a look at previous posts for more meals. :)

In good health,

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

16 meals, 64 servings, $107 spent at Kroger.

My goal in life is to be better than I was the day before, even when it comes to meal prepping. Once I started buying the healthier ingredients, I realize my grocery lists become less and less, and I saved money AND my sanity. :)

To start, I mapped out everything I needed for this week. In addition to this week's meals, I also added ingredients to prepare for freezer meals. I took the list, and looked in my pantry to cross items off that I have in stock. Then I tackled Kroger. $107 later, I had everything I needed! NOTE: It might be more expensive for you to start because you don't have the ingredients on hand, but it gets better! I always, always, always have some form of veggie in my fridge or freezer, along with brown rice, black beans, and salsa in my pantry.  I also don't buy veggie or chicken broth, ever. I make it myself since there's much less sodium. :) You'll see how below with my rice recipe! 

 My grocery list was pretty long, containing 12 lbs chicken, 1 rotisserie chicken, 2lbs turkey burger, turkey bacon, beef roast, pork roast, 9 bell peppers, 7 onions, cauliflower, pineapple, quinoa - plus more... No worries. A lot of that was for the freezer meal workshop I participated in. I made these recipes: (and even doubled the pork and pineapple kabobs). These meals at package and stowed in the freezer for a lazy day in the future. :) 

If you haven't tried the freezer meal workshops, do yourself a favor and jump in! SO worth it! 

Now, for the good stuff. After all, this is the part you're waiting on, right!? 

1. Rotisserie chicken, sweet potato, and rice 
Buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. You can also buy a whole chicken and make it yourself, but with preparing 11 freezer meals, I didn't have time. So I purcheased a whole chicken from the deli. They are less than $10, and will be used for many of the meals this week.

I don't weigh my food, but I eyeball what 4-6oz of the chicken (protein)  would look like and stick that into 4 separate containers. I added a side of cooked Jasmine rice (1 c. Uncooked rice was enough for 4 sides) and 4 sweet potatoes topped with plain cinnamon. 

Grocery list:
-Rotisserie chicken
-1c rice (Jasmin, brown) flavored to your liking
(Note: how I always make mine) 

- 4 small sweet potato or 2 large cut in half. 
($ saving tip! If you have frozen or fresh veggies on hand, use them instead of sweet potatoes. Save money!) 

2. Chicken fajita bowls
You still have tons of chicken left, so why not use it up!? I used more chicken meat, sparing the leg and thigh meat since that'll be used for the next recipe. I threw it in a pan with a sliced onion and 2 sliced bell peppers. Add some fajita/taco seasoning and voila! (Labels. Read them!! Make sure you watch for sodium. I don't sell  Wildtree products but again, Wildtree for the win! You'll see I use a LOT of their stuff.)

Make 2 cups brown rice and season with taco seasoning. I throw some salsa in, too, for an added kick. 

Place rice on the bottom of the containers and chicken mixture on top. 4 Chicken fajita bowls!

Grocery list 
- leftover chicken from last recipe
- 2 bell peppers
-1 medium onion 
- taco/fajita seasoning 
- brown rice 
-optional: salsa and jalapeños

3. Buffalo chicken salad 

Well, we still have the leg meat to use from that chicken, and after this meal its about picked clean. Put the shredded chicken in a bowl and throw in some buffalo seasoning of your choice. If you don't like buffalo, you can also just eat the plain rotisserie chicken on the salad since it has nice flavor. Chop lettuce, carrots, etc (whatever you like on your salad). I put them in mason jars because they don't get soggy. 

Layer like so: 
Bottom = dressing. I use Bolthouse Ranch that is made with Greek yogurt (found in produce section. Healthy alternative!) 
Next, chicken. 
Next chopped veggies.
Last, lettuce. 
Top with the lid. 

($ saving tip: buy the 2-5lbs bag of large carrots, much cheaper than baby carrots! Also buy a big head of green leafy lettuce or romaine lettuce. You can get them at Kroger for 99 cents! You just have to wash and chop. It's easy and worth it)

Grocery list:
- leftover chicken from above
-buffalo sauce (optional) 
-salad toppings (onion, bell pepper, carrots) 
- dressing (Bolthouse ranch Greek yogurt dressing in produce section is my fav) 

This made 6 small jar salads or 4 big salads. 

4. Meatloaf and cauliflower mash

Throw 1lb turkey burger into a bowl with an egg. If you have whole grain or wheat bread/buns on hand, tear 1 piece in tiny pieces. Finely chop 1/4 onion (I had leftovers from salad). Add 1 tsp pepper, garlic seasoning, and 2 tbsp BBQ sauce. Mix together well and place in loaf pan. Add some more BBQ sauce to the top evenly with a brush. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour. When it's done, cut into 4 pieces.

Steam cauliflower. When steamed, throw in a blender/food processor with some garlic. Some people add plain Greek yogurt, I just added some minced garlic and pepper. Blend away until it's like mashed potatoes! 

Grocery list 
-1lb turkey burger
- 1 head cauliflower 
- BBQ sauce 
-1 egg
- optional : seasonings and bread crumbs mentioned above in recipe 

5. One Pot Mexican Quinoa 

Adopted from one of my best friends, this recipe is so EASY. You can literally toss in just about anything. This time I added 1c quinoa, 1c cooked black beans (if you want to buy them canned, search for low or no sodium), 14.5oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies (if you don't have this, use salsa), 1c. Veggie broth (low sodium, or buy bouillon and add water), 1 tsp chili powder, & 1/2 tsp cumin to pan and simmer for 20 mins until quinoa is cooked. Recipe also calls for 1c frozen corn but I didn't have any. You can top with cilantro and avocado if you want. 

Grocery list:
1c quinoa
1c cooked black beans (if you want to buy them canned, search for low or no sodium)
14.5oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies (if you don't have this, use salsa) 
1c Veggie broth (low sodium, or buy bouillon and add water)
1 tsp chili powder 
1/2 tsp cumin
Optional: cilantro, avocado 

And there you have it. Each freezer meal is at least 4 servings, and each recipe above also has 4 servings. 16 meals X 4 servings = 64 servings total! 

For more meal prep recipes, check out other blog posts such as "Weekly meal prep, Healthy and on a budget"  and "More on Meal Prep" !  or follow me on Facebook & Pinterest!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Healthy snack - Kale Chips!

Sometimes I just need to munch on a snack - especially when I'm reading or studying. Apparently utilizing my brain makes me super hungry. Well, yesterday was one of those days! 

I have a list of my "go-to" snacks, such as frozen grapes or blueberries, homemade granola, protein/energy balls, and trail mix. 

Yesterday I wanted to try something new- so I hopped on the beloved Pinterest App and found Kale Chips!

Who knew there were like 100 different flavors?! I kept it simple with some garlic grapeseed oil and sea salt. 

I threw the ingredients in a bag and mixed well. Placed them on a cookie sheet and baked at 400 degrees for 15 mins. 

My first attempt was a FAIL. Poor Clint said my breath even smelled like burned broccoli (that's exactly what it tasted like, too!) 

But alas, my second attempt was a success! 

Helpful pointers: 

Kale chips shrink tremendously! So don't cut it into tiny pieces before baking. It burns - haha. 

Do a trial run first with a little bit of kale and see how it turns out. When I used less kale, 10 minutes baking was suffice. 

Enjoy! Remember, you should never feel guilty about eating. Food can be delicious, fun, AND nutritious. 

In good health, 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

More on meal prep!

Hello, Hello! :) 

I am impressed with the feedback from the meal prep post! I will be the first to admit that I am not a professional meal prepper [yet] - BUT I do have the goal in mind. I eventually want to be the person that creates the pins on Pinterest instead of searching and saving millions of pins.

This week I'm going to cover 3 recipes that were pretty great Kroger deals! (links to recipes)
1. Baja Shrimp Salad
2. Roasted pork with butternut squash and apples
3. Amish cabbage skillet 

Baja Shrimp Salad

Shopping list:
- SeaPak popcorn shrimp (SALE $5.99 with $0.55 coupon = $5.44. $3.55 in savings!!)
DISCLAIMER: I understand that popcorn shrimp isn't the healthiest alternative, but I am not a fan of plain shrimp. Its like eating erasers.. yuck! 

-Simple Truth Power Pack lettuce ($3.99 with $1.00 coupon = $2.99 
More money saving tips: Get the large head of green leafy lettuce for $0.99, wash, cut, and dry! I was under time constraint so I spent the extra $2.00

- Red Onion $1.21

-Green Pepper $0.59

-Bolthouse Mango Chipotle Dressing 
I had this on hand, but its $3.48. Check out the ingredients! and only 40 calories a serving. DRESSING (and other condiments) are always hidden with crazy ingredients and tons of calories. Check labels!

- Black beans
I had them on hand, but I get the bag and make them myself. You can get a big bag of raw black beans for $1.00.

-Frozen corn
$1.00 with $0.40 coupon!

$17.35 Total - makes 10 salads total, so that's $1.75 a salad! 

In hindsight, due to the sodium content of the popcorn shrimp, I think I need to just get over the texture of shrimp. I'm never perfect.. I'm doing my best though!

Roasted Pork with butternut squash and apples

I didn't take pictures of this beauty, and I wish I would've! It tasted and smelled so delicious. Definitely a fall meal! Click the link at the beginning of the blog to see this picture! You won't regret it.

Shopping list:

- Pork Loin (SALE $1.49/lb! So I got 5 pounds for $7.09. Saving $12.00 on this meat! You better believed I got another one and put it in the freezer!)

- Brown Sugar ($2.49 with $0.75 off coupon = $1.74

-Butternut Squash (SALE $0.99/lb = $3.60 total)

- 3 Granny smith apples $2.61

- Onion $0.66

-I substituted chicken stock for my Wildree Chicken Bouillon. I also had cinnamon, olive oil, pepper, & flour on hand )

$15.70 Total - makes 10-12 meals, but we will just say 10 for mathematical purposes. :) $1.57/meal folks! 

Amish Cabbage Skillet 

This is another one that I didn't a picture of. It must have tasted wonderful, as my hubs accidentally took every single dish to the fire station with him. He said it tasted great! 

(Side note: there is nothing quite like Clint telling me he enjoys my home cooked meals, or thanking me for my hard meal prepping work. I have a very traditional view when it comes to marriage, and when he is happy and fed, that makes me happy! Don't get me wrong, he definitely does his fair share of cooking. He lets me sleep in and he cooks breakfast. I. LOVE. That. Marriage is a beautiful thing. I'm so grateful for this man in my life. OK - sorry for that rant. I guess food is a way to my heart, too!) 

Shopping list: 

- Cabbage $0.82 for a whole head, but only used half!

- Onion $0.66

- Diced Tomatoes $0.65

-Tomato Sauce $0.65

-Beef $3.99

$6.77 total!!! Made 3-4 meals. For math, we will say 3. $2.26 a meal! 

I think that next time I will add some brown rice and the whole head of cabbage so it makes 5-6 meals total.

Well there you have it! :) What holds YOU back from meal prepping? Or at least planning ahead and not necessarily preparing ahead? Look forward to hearing from you!!

In good health,


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Weekly meal prep - healthy & on a budget!

I often have people tell me that it is just too expensive to eat healthy. Now, I admit, I used to think this also. With a little planning and 1 day of work, you can have all your meals planned, cooked, and in containers, all while staying on a budget! 

My husband, Clint, works as a full time firefighter and fills his schedule with other part time gigs. He hops from 24 hour shift to 24 hour shift to provide for our family while I anxiously wait for the State of Texas to grant me a license to practice as a PA. In the meantime, I have a mortgage of student loans so I work as a nanny. We are ALWAYS on the road and we are trying to save money, so our meals travel with us. The process is quite simple. Check ads. Use coupons. Cook on Sundays. 

1. Look at Ads

Every week I get a big chunk of ads in the mail for Kroger, Aldi, HEB, and others. I briefly skim the ads to see what's on sale. I skip all of he "food-like-crap" (cereals, granola bars, premade meals) and stick to the basics. I focus mostly on meat, vegetables, and fruit. I also pay attention to household products like soap, detergents, toilet paper, etc. If I save more money in that area, then I have a bit more room with food. 

2. Coupons!

Yeah, I'm a 27 year old who avidly cuts coupons. I'm frugal. My sisters brought me to a coupon class a long time ago, but now they have online tutorials that break it down for people. I get the paper every Sunday and clip what I need. I also print from  I do throw a LOT of coupns away. I don't use cereal, or microwave meals, or any of that pre-made stuff. 

Stores like Kroger and HEB have electronic coupons. They link right to your shoppers card and are deducted when you buy the product. Yes, it's that simple. 

You can also search "Kroger coupon match ups" online and view a database that shows product sale price, which coupon to use, etc. Someone does all the work for us (and I wish I could personally hug them all for being a lifesaver!) 

Organizing clipped coupons is also important. You can't save money if you don't know what coupons you have! I have that little wallet sized holder with dividers. I categorized them based on what I buy "meats, eggs and dairy, condiments and spices, cleaning, laundry, hair care, etc." Search online for different methods to organize & find the one that best suits you! 

3. Rebates

Just recently I discovered yet another money saving ap called Ibotta. After my list is made, I look on the ap and see if there are any money back options for the things on my list. (

$27.50 lifetime earnings in 2 months. Not bad! 

4. Stock up. 

This week chicken was on sale at Kroger, so I stocked up and put some in the freezer. Last week ground beef and turkey were on sale so I stocked up. If frozen veggies are on sale (like this week private selections was 99 cents a bag when you buy 4) - STOCK UP! 

5. Meals 

Now where do I find the recipes to make? Simple: Pinterest. You can follow my recipe board if you'd like, but that's where 99% of my receipes are found! 

Typically whatever fruits and veggies are in season are cheaper. Kroger had bell peppers 99 cents each, so stuffed peppers were added to the menu.  Instead of buying prepackaged lettuce for salads that's around $3-4, I buy a large head of green leafy lettuce for 99 cents, wash and chop it up, and stick it in a salad spinner. Instead of buying the baby carrots, I buy a bulk bag and it's so much cheaper! For rice and beans, I buy them in bags and spent the extra time making them. They take longer, but they don't have all of the sodium the canned and instant beans/rice have! 

Now for the cooking. After I make my grocery haul, I start cooking. Just about any recipe can be cooked, separated and placed in the refrigerator. 

- Mediterranean Chicken Gyros 

I had some WildTree Mediterranean seasoning, so that made this recipe super easy! I also had some Tzatziki seasoning on had. No, I don't sell Wildtree, but I'm obsessed with it! The seasonings simplify my life so much, and offer healthier alternatives to a lot of condiments and spices. After the chicken, I quickly sautéed some onions and peppers and placed it in a container with some chicken. I put the wrap in some aluminum foil and put it on top of the chicken/veggie mix. The Tzatziki topping was put in another tiny container, so the gyros can be assembled when we are ready to eat. 

- Stuffed bell peppers

Wildtree saving the day again! This recipe can be found on the Wildtree website. It's called "Simple skillet stuffed peppers." 


- Spaghetti squash recipe

I typically make my own meatballs, but this week the meatballs were on sale and I had a coupon. I couldn't pass that up. I don't stress if my food isn't 100% clean. I just try to make 80% of the food myself, and 20% whatever. 

- Chicken, potatoes, and green beans

Self explanatory. Very basic recipe. If sweet potatoes are cheaper, go with those. Shop what's on sale, and don't be afraid to change up a recipe to suit what you have in your home. 

-Jalapeno chicken with Spanish rice

Spanish rice: 
2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Add 1 cup brown rice. Add some chopped onions and peppers. I added some Wildree fajita seasoning. If I didn't have that, I'd add some chili powder, cayenne pepper, chicken or veggie bullion, etc. Use whatever you have on hand!

-Black bean and corn quesadilla with Spanish rice 

For this, I didn't have a recipe. I cooked black beans and smashed them to a paste. I smeared it on a tortilla with some corn and cheese, and cooked both sides in a pan. I cut into 4s and placed in tin foil. I used some of our leftover Spanish rice, and included a little salsa dish. (On sale at Kroger, coupon available too!) 

Black beans + brown rice = total protein - so you don't have to worry about the lack of meat in this recipe! 

-Tex mex bowls with Spanish rice

I didn't have refried beans, and I didn't want the extra sodium. I had leftover black beans from the previous meal so I used those. 

-Dirty brown rice

I used my ground beef and turkey in the two previous meals, but I had some sausage in the freezer so I used that. Slight modification, but it still tastes excellent. 

I'll be the first to admit, it takes some time to learn. Hang in there! Remember, this is a lifestyle change and may take a while to make all of the adjustments. I know people who eat completely organic and 100% clean, and I have nothing against that. It's just not for me. I have made gradual changes over the year to get where I am now, and maybe I'll have more changes in the future. If you eat poor choices based on convenience, then this might be something for you to try, too. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rekindling the fire.

Well, I'M BACK! The past 2.5 years were pretty wild. Started PA School, got engaged, got married, finished PA School, relocated to Texas, and passed my boards. Now as take a moment to breathe, I can't help but feel my heart being drawn to another calling.

All my life I have wanted to help inspire people. My goal has always been to impact 1 million people (indirectly) before I die. Whether it's encouraging someone to exercise, convincing someone to get that mammogram/colonoscopy, teaching someone to eat clean and meal prep, promoting community service, or showing someone the gracious heart of God, I just want to be apart of their journey. I'm not actually counting the people I impact, but I'm going to continue moving forward and hope that I'm remembered as an inspiration to many.

A friend of mine inspired me. (For privacy, we will just call her B). I remember sitting on the couch after I completed my boards and I was browsing social media. Someone commented on B's page saying she looked amazing, so I did as any FB user would do, I went to B's page. HOLY COW! B lost 80 pounds over the last year! I think the biggest transformation was in her spirit. She was SO happy and radiant! And that's when the fire was rekindled...

Many of you know that I have my own health and wellness coaching and solutions business that allowed me to help people virtually all over the country. Many of you may also wonder why I haven't posted anything about it in quite some time. Especially during clinicals in PA School, I unfortunately had to take a break in order to focus my attention on school. I still used the products and continued working out, but I wasn't able to help coach others. Well, B inspired me to jump back in. Yes, there is an immense amount of fear that comes with starting again....Like: What will people think? Will they think I failed the first time? What if they think I'm just trying to be a sales person?  What if people doubt me? What if they think this is a gimmic?

As all of these thoughts rushed into my head, I stopped for a moment, and remembered my goal, my team, my vision.

GOAL: To provide solutions for others, whether it be weight loss, energy, performance, wellness, or earning a plan B income.

MY TEAM: The best group of individuals that uplift, inspire, and motivate me daily. They encourage me to add value to my life, and their support and friendship is incredible.

MY VISION: There are 2 big problems in America: Health and Finances. PA School has left me with a mortgage in student loans. I have watched friends do incredible and often unbelievable things - including finding debt freedom, so that's where I'm going. There are others looking for help with their finances and health too, so with the same vision in mind, we can tackle this problem.

I know people probably think I'm absolutely crazy, and that my dreams are larger than life and unreachable. I promise you, that's where I'm headed. Someday I will inspire you with my debt free success story, and you'll think, "Wow. She did it."