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,