WEDNESDAY: BBQ Ranch Salad Bowl & Yogurt Parfait

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BREAKFAST: Fruit & Granola Yogurt Parfait

I’ve posted about this before, but it won’t hurt to reiterate the recipe. I make it every week because of how easy and cheap it is to put together. For this week’s,  I got some new granola at Aldi–coconut chia seed, and it is delish. Plus, it’s organic and cheap! It’s really outrageous how expensive some granola can be.

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What you need (1 serving):

  • 2 small yogurt packs (I used Dannon Activia mixed berry and black cherry, but you can use any yogurt you prefer.)
  • Small handful of berries (I used blueberries and chopped strawberries)
  • Small scoop granola

What you do:

  1. In a small airtight jar, layer the two yogurts on top of one another.
  2. Top with berries and granola.

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LUNCH: BBQ Ranch Chicken Bowl

This is a brand new recipe that I haven’t tried before. I threw it together based on some leftover ingredients I had from last week, and it turned out amazing! BBQ sauce and ranch are always a great combination, and you really can’t go wrong with it on chicken. I love ranch on a salad, but it is notoriously unhealthy, so by drizzling just a tad and mixing the salad with other ingredients such as rice and corn, you get the taste without all the calories.

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What you need (for one serving):

  • 1/2 cup pulled chicken
  • 1 tsp BBQ sauce
  • 1 tsp ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup canned corn
  • 1 cup greens of your choice (I used romaine spring mix)
  • 2/3 cup brown rice

What you do:

  1. Cook rice according to packaging.
  2. In an airtight container, place chicken, corn, greens, and rice in separate sections.
  3. Drizzle BBQ sauce over chicken. Repeat with ranch.

When you’re ready to eat, just mix everything all together and dig in! The chicken tastes reminiscent of BBQ wings and the vegetables and rice make it quite a bit healthier! I will certainly be adding this into my rotation of meals, as it’s one that both my husband and I loved!

TUESDAY: Apple Cinnamon Oats & Southwest Sweet Potato

Apple Cinnamon Oats

BREAKFAST: Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats

This is probably one of my favorite combinations of overnight oats. And I know I say that every time I post about them, but I think I really mean it this time! The apples and cinnamon taste like apple pie–with a lot fewer calories!

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What you need (for one serving)

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 apple, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 packet stevia

What to do:

Combine everything, put in airtight container and refrigerate at least overnight!

This is so delicious when it is hot and gooey for breakfast. I made a second batch for later in the week, but I might not make it that long without eating it!

LUNCH: Southwest Sweet Potato

I am really digging the stuffed sweet potato thing. The buffalo chicken sweet potato from last prep was amazing, and this southwest sweet potato is another one of my go-tos. Directions for the southwest mixture are exactly the same as from my burrito bowls and burritos from last prep. This would be another great option if you have leftover chicken mixture from another recipe.

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What you need (for two servings):

  • 1 cup shredded chicken
  • 1/2 can black beans
  • 1/2 can corn
  • 1/2 can Rotel tomatoes & chiles
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp water
  • Several leaves of cilantro
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cleaned

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Poke holes in your sweet potatoes all over using a fork.
  3. Place potatoes directly on center rack of oven and bake for ~50 minutes, turning halfway through.
  4. In a greased medium skillet, combine the first 6 items. Simmer on medium heat ~10 minutes.
  5. When potatoes are cooked through, slice down the center and use a fork to “fluff” the inside of your potato.
  6. Scoop a heaping portion of chicken mixture into your potato.
  7. Top with cilantro. Feel free to add hot sauce, salsas, fat free sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, etc.

 

MONDAY: Sweet Potato Scramble & Berry Salad

I try to pair my breakfasts and lunches to complement one another. When I have a salad for lunch, I try to pack something heartier for breakfast. When I eat something denser or higher in carbs, such as a sweet potato or rice, I do a yogurt or smoothie for breakfast. Today’s pairing is sausage sweet potato egg scramble for breakfast, and berry spinach salad for lunch.

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BREAKFAST: Sausage, Sweet Potato & Egg Scramble

This is one of my very favorite breakfast meals. It’s a variation on my egg scramble from my last prep. In this version, sweet potatoes and maple sausage pair well with savory eggs and red bell peppers. I was a little worried how the sausage and eggs would reheat, but no problem whatsoever. Ever had one of those Jimmy Dean Sausage Bowls? Consider this a cheaper, and much healthier version. While I love the taste of the maple sausage, I do want to try using turkey sausage next time, instead.

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What you need (4 portions):

  • 1 lb maple flavored breakfast sausage
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch squares
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 eggs, scrambled (with milk, salt & pepper)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp marjoram

What you do:

  1. Bring medium pot of water to boil. Add sweet potatoes, reduce heat to medium/high and cook ~7 minutes.
  2. In a large, greased skillet, cook sausage on medium heat until browned.
  3. Drain fat from sausage, discard.
  4. Add red pepper, cinnamon and marjoram. Cover and simmer on medium ~5 minutes.
  5. In a separate pan, cook scrambled eggs until light and fluffy.
  6. Combine eggs, sweet potatoes, and sausage mixture.

 

LUNCH: Berry, Walnut & Chicken Salad

This is one of my go-to mason jar salads. It uses simple ingredients that I normally always have on hand. I bought a big bag of walnuts at Costco a few weeks ago and I swear it’s going to take me 5 years to go through them all! I use measurements like “handful” for this recipe, because it’s really up to you how much of each ingredient you want to add.

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What you need (1 portion):

  • Handful walnuts
  • Handful blueberries
  • Handful strawberries, chopped
  • ~2 tbps strawberry vinaigrette dressing
  • Handful blue cheese
  • ~2 cups spinach
  • ~1/2 cup shredded chicken

What you do:

In the mason jar, layer your salad in this order:

  1. Dressing
  2. Blue cheese
  3. Walnuts
  4. Chicken
  5. Strawberries
  6. Blueberries
  7. Spinach

Just shake it up and eat straight from the jar or pour on a plate! Having the dressing at the bottom keeps the produce from getting soggy, and the mason jars keep everything fresh all week long!

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Meal Prep Week 2

IMG_8780Last week I didn’t get around to meal prepping. The weekend was crazy and my Sunday was packed with Mother’s Day events. By the time I got home, all I wanted to do was relax! Plus, last week, I had breakfast and lunch provided by my work several days, so there wasn’t a need for a full-on prep. I did still meal plan and packed breakfasts and lunches for my husband and myself, but I usually prepared them the night before, or morning of, which usually resulted in me being late for work, oops. It’s just so hard for me to force myself to wake up any earlier than absolutely necessary!

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This week, I decided to get back on the grind and do a full Sunday prep. I tried to use ingredients I already had at home, and leftovers from the previous week. I spent $25 total for 8 breakfasts and 10 lunches (one morning we will just eat cereal at home before work!) I repeated some breakfast items from the previous prep, but al of the lunches are different.

I spent about two and a half hours cooking yesterday afternoon (and after that, I still cooked dinner!) By the time I was finished, I was exhausted and my feet hurt from standing, but I’m pretty proud of my results, and know I’ll be relieved to not have to pack any more throughout this week.

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FRIDAY: Banana Overnight Oats & Chicken Burrito

So I am a little late and delinquent with this post, it was my meal from last Friday! The final day of my meal prep. Life has gotten crazy and I haven’t had time to write until now. But, I will say that with all the craziness, it has been a blessing to have meals already prepped ahead of time–one less thing to do!

Chicken Burrito

BREAKFAST: Cinnamon Banana Overnight Oats

As previously mentioned, overnight oats are so versatile and have endless varieties. Adding banana gives the oats a thicker consistency, and the taste pairs so well with cinnamon. I like to add walnuts or pecans to the top to give it an extra crunch. This version I made using steel cut oats, which are a thicker and grittier consistency than rolled oats, but are nice to use as something different.

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What you need (for two servings)

  • 1 banana
  • 2/3 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 cup milk (or almond or soy)
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Handful walnuts, for topping

What you do:

  1. In a large bowl, mash the banana with a fork until smooth.
  2. Add in next 5 ingredients and stir well.
  3. Pour into airtight container and top with nuts.
  4. Leave in refrigerator overnight.

Eat cold or warm for ~1 1/2 minutes in the microwave. This tastes just like a good old fashioned comfort breakfast!

 

LUNCH: Southwest Chicken Burrito, Veggies & Hummus

This recipe utilizes the leftover southwest chicken mixture from Wednesday’s burrito bowl. It’s a great way to have a second meal from the same ingredients, with a different twist.

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What you need:

  • 1 small can tomatoes & green chiles blend (Rotel)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can yellow corn
  • ~1 1/2 cups pulled chicken (again, I used rotisserie)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 whole wheat tortillas/wraps (burrito size)
  • 1/2 bag baby carrots
  • 1/2 bag snap peas
  • 2 tbps hummus

What you do:

  1. In a large skillet, combine the first six ingredients.
  2. Simmer on medium ~10-15 minutes.
  3. Spoon chicken mixture onto center of tortilla. Tuck in corners and roll into burrito.

Add your veggies into your travel container, and spoon hummus into a small condiment container and you’re ready to go! I like to drizzle a bit of Cholula (Mexican hot sauce) onto my burrito and eat with a side of plain Greek yogurt, which tastes almost exactly like sour cream!

Thursday:Egg Scramble & Protein Bistro Box

DAY FOUR (THURSDAY)

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BREAKFAST: Egg Scramble

Eggs are super high in protein and low in carbs and keep surprisingly well in the refrigerator once cooked! I love making omelets for breakfast on the weekends and regularly make egg “muffins” for breakfasts-on-the-go. This week I tried making somewhat of a deconstructed omelet. Really it’s just scrambled eggs with some add-ins, but making something “deconstructed” makes me sound like I’m on Top Chef, so I’m going with that.

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What you need (for two servings):

  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes (or use fresh)
  • 3 slices turkey bacon
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp margarine
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

What you do:

  1. Cook your turkey bacon in the microwave according to instructions on package. Crumble and set aside.
  2. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tbsp butter until melted.
  3. Add bell pepper and sauté until color lightens.
  4. Add spinach and tomatoes. Continue cooking until spinach has shrunk and cooked through.
  5. While your veggies cook, combine eggs, milk and salt & pepper. Whisk until fully scrambled.
  6. In a second skillet, add egg mixture over medium heat. Cook about 4 minutes until eggs are solid and fluffy. Constantly use spatula or fork to stir eggs, creating large scrambled pieces.
  7. Stir cooked eggs into your vegetable mixture. Add turkey bacon. Stir well.
  8. Top with shredded cheese.

I would tell you how this tasted but my husband ate mine! So I’ll be doing double oatmeal this week. But, he gave it great reviews! Hence why he’s eating it twice this week.

LUNCH: “Starbucks” Protein Bistro Box Copycat

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Starbucks has really great grab-and-go lunch food. I’m obsessed with their quinoa salads but haven’t yet perfected my own version (lemme know if you have a good recipe!) Another one of my favorites is their Protein Bistro Box. This is extremely easy to replicate at home and the only cooking it requires is boiling an egg! I make this a lot when I’m running late and don’t have time to make anything else.

What you need (for one serving)

  • 1 apple
  • 1 large stem red, seedless grapes
  • 2 triangles of cheese (slice your own or I use Laughing Cow)
  • 1 large tbsp almond butter or peanut butter
  • 1/2 pita pocket
  • 1 egg

What you do:

Literally you just hard boil your egg, slice your pita into triangles, and throw everything into a container. I put my peanut butter in a small condiment container. I also like to eat my apple sliced and dip it into the almond butter, but I don’t slice until the day I plan to eat it, or else the apple will turn brown.

I love how much protein this meal packs, and the variety of salty vs. sweet flavors. And it beats paying the $6 you’ll fork over for one at Starbucks!

Wednesday: Blueberry Overnight Oats & Asian Sesame Salad

DAY THREE (TUESDAY)

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BREAKFAST: Blueberry Overnight Oatmeal

Overnight oats is one of my favorite things to make for breakfast! They are perfect to make for meal prep, because the longer they sit, the better they turn out. You let the oats sit overnight (or longer) and then can pop them in the microwave for breakfast or eat cold. There are many variations you can make, but blueberry is one of my favorites.

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What you need (for two servings)

  • 2/3 cup old fashioned oats (avoid instant–less nutritious and defeats the purpose of letting them sit overnight)
  • 2/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 cup milk (or almond or soy milk)
  • Handful blueberries
  • 2 packets stevia
  • Dash cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds

What you do:

  1. Mix everything together, reserving several blueberries.
  2. Spoon out into airtight containers (again, I use small mason jars.)
  3. Top with remaining blueberries and sprinkle with extra cinnamon, if desired.
  4. Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, your oats will be soaked through, and, essentially, “cooked.” I eat this a lot at work and my boss always comments on how delicious it smells when I heat it up. The oatmeal is extremely filling, especially when adding chia seeds, or flax seed to the mix.

LUNCH: Asian Sesame Chicken Salad

This is one of my absolute favorite mason jar salads, and I think the dressing is the key. I tried to make my own sesame ginger dressing and it was horrendous. I’ll stick with the pre-made version for this one.

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What you need: *Note, this is for one serving. However, I really don’t measure out ingredients for my salad, I just throw them together based on what looks good and fits in the jar!

  • Spinach
  • Pulled chicken (rotisserie, again)
  • 1-2 carrots
  • Handful sugar snap peas
  • Handful peanuts or cashews
  • Handful chow mein noodles
  • Asian sesame ginger dressing (I used Ken’s Steakhouse)
  • 1 clementine or mandarin orange

What you do:

  1. Peel outside skin off your carrot and discard. Continue to peel with peeler, making long, thin carrot shreddings. Or, spiralize with a “zoodler” or spiralizer.
  2. Peel your clementine and pull wedges apart.
  3. Pour desired amount of dressing into bottom of mason jar.
  4. Next, add in this order: cashews/peanuts, chow mein, snap peas, carrots, chicken.
  5. Finally, stuff the rest of your mason jar with spinach.

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When you’re ready to eat, give it a good shake and pour onto a plate.

Tuesday: Yogurt Parfait & Chicken Burrito Bowl

DAY TWO (TUESDAY)

Day two of meal prepping. Yesterday it was SO nice to come home from work, head to the gym, come back to a leftover bowl of potato soup, and spend the rest of the evening with my husband. Normally I’m spending half of my night prepping our meals for the next day, so I really appreciated already having everything ready to go for Tuesday!

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I’ve made it a point to make different meals every day. I see a lot of meal preps where people eat chicken, broccoli and brown rice every day of the week. That’s great; I’m sure it’s healthy and cuts down on cost and waste, but I cannot make myself eat the same thing every day. Well, actually I probably could (I love routine) but my husband would be taking his lunch break at Subway. So, I’ve tried to have something different for each of our meals, while not needing 10000 ingredients to purchase.

I’ve posted about both of these meals before, but it’s been a while and I’ve made some variations, so you’re getting the refreshed, better-this-time-around versions.

BREAKFAST: Fruit, Yogurt and Granola Parfait

If you love the ones from McDonalds (for only a dollar, so admittedly, you probably can’t beat their price) you’ll love these!

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What you need (for one serving):

  • 2 packs yogurt (I use Activia, but you could also use a few scoops from a larger tub of yogurt. I’ve made this with one Activia, one vanilla Greek yogurt as well)
  • Small handful of berries
  • 1-2 tbsp granola

What you do:

  1. In a small bowl or container, pour in one packet of yogurt.
  2. Pour the second pack on top.
  3. Layer some berries on the yogurt.
  4. Sprinkle with granola.

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So simple and a great breakfast option or afternoon snack!

LUNCH: Chicken Burrito Bowl

This is one of my regular go-to’s for lunch. The ingredients are super cheap and this recipe makes enough of your burrito mixture to use for a second meal. Later this week, I’ll show you how I used my leftovers to make actual burritos (hint, you just stuff it in a tortilla.)

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What you need (for ~4 servings)

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 small can tomatoes & green chiles blend (Rotel)
  • 1 can yellow corn
  • ~1 1/2 cups pulled chicken (again, I used rotisserie)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 cups instant brown rice
  • Several stalks cilantro
  • Optional: salsa or Mexican hot sauce for topping

What you do:

  1. Cook your rice according to the package.
  2. In a large skillet, combine the first six ingredients.
  3. On medium heat, simmer ~10-15 minutes until mixture has started to heat up.
  4. In your container, spoon out as much rice as desired.
  5. Top your mixture with some fresh cilantro.
  6. Add your optional salsa or sauce if desired.

Just stick this in the microwave for several minutes when you are ready to eat. It keeps great in the refrigerator so this is a good option to eat toward the end of your week, but I went wild and had mine on Tuesday. Keep in mind that you’ll only use about half of your chicken mixture, but be sure to save that and check back on Friday to see how you can use it for another meal!

 

Monday: Almond Butter Toast & Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato

DAY 1 (MONDAY)

Almond Butter & Fruit Toast

BREAKFAST: Almond Butter, Banana & Blueberry Toast

This is one of my go-to’s for breakfast. It is so easy and healthy and keeps me full until lunch. It’s a great breakfast for when you don’t have much time to throw something together.

What you need (for one serving):

  • 1 slice of multi-grain bread
  • 1-2 scoops almond butter
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • handful blueberries
  • honey

What you do:

  1. Spread the almond butter over your bread.
  2. Place banana slices on top of almond butter.
  3. Do the same with blueberries, spreading out evenly.
  4. Drizzle honey over top of bread.

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That’s it! Seriously, so easy and one of my favorites. It’s like a better version of a peanut butter and banana sandwich. If you haven’t had almond butter before, I really recommend trying it. It’s sweeter and less salty than peanut butter. And while peanut butter certainly isn’t bad for you in moderation, almond butter has about half as much saturated fat as peanut butter, and also has more fiber and vitamins. Unfortunately, it’s quite a bit pricier, but is a great staple to have in your pantry when you just need a change from the regular ol’ PB&J.

LUNCH: Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato

This is a new one for me this week and it turned out amazing. What’s not to like with buffalo chicken? The saltiness of the buffalo and ranch compared to the sweetness of the potato, and the tangy taste of the blue cheese is a great combination. Sweet potatoes are exceptionally good for you and rich in vitamins and minerals. I’m sure you can go a step further and make your own buffalo sauce, but I was lazy and used Frank’s in a bottle.

What you need (for one serving):

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1-2 tbsp buffalo sauce
  • 1/2 cup pulled chicken (cooked)
  • handful blue cheese
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Greek Yogurt ranch dressing (dry mix)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk (1% or 2%)

What you do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Clean sweet potato and poke holes with fork.
  3. Place directly on center rack of oven and bake ~45 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  4. While potatoes are baking, mix together the ranch dressing, according to packet, using the Greek yogurt and milk.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together chicken and buffalo sauce. Be sure the chicken is coated well, but not soaked. (I used pulled chicken from a rotisserie chicken, so there was no baking or cooking involved. You could also boil or bake your own chicken breast and pull apart, or use canned chicken.)
  6. When potato is done, remove from oven and slice in half, lengthwise. Use a fork to mash up some of the potato inside the skin.
  7. Place chicken inside the potato.
  8. Top with blue cheese.
  9. Drizzle with ranch dressing.

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As I’ve said before, I’m really obsessed with anything buffalo chicken, so I really loved this recipe. The potato is very filling so it was enough of a lunch for me on it’s own. But I could see pairing this with some carrot and celery sticks to get your fill of vegetables, as well.

Meal Prepping

The past few weeks I haven’t been so great at healthy eating. For breakfast and lunch, I’ve been alright, but dinner has been an epic fail. This past weekend, my hometown had it’s annual Apple Blossom Festival, which brings out trucks and trucks of carnival food. Friday, for lunch, I had a pulled pork bbq sandwich, and for dinner, a cheeseburger, cheese fries and popcorn. Saturday was followed up by a full spread from Taco Bell. Let’s not talk about the calories from alcohol…

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So I decided to get back on my healthy meal prep kick, partially for the nutritional benefits, and partially to save money. Eating out is quick and easy, but boy do the costs add up. It pains me to get a $50 check for dinner, knowing that could have bought a few days worth of meals. My husband and I try not to be terribly frivolous with our money, but our biggest weakness food. I normally grocery shop about once a week and try to purchase what I need for the week ahead. Yesterday I went through my pantry and fridge and tried to come up with some meals based on ingredients I already had in the house. I made a list of the few things I still needed and headed to the store. I spent around $40 or so, but again, I had most of my supplies already at home. So if you calculate 3 meals a day, times 7 days, times two people, that’s about $0.95 per meal! You really can’t beat that. My husband and I are dedicated to spending NO money this week, except for emergencies or necessities such as gas and bills. So that means NO money on food!

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One of the biggest reasons we buy our lunch or dinner is due to lack of preparation. Maybe we have healthy things in the fridge, but we’re running late in the morning and don’t have time to pack. Or I forget to take meat out of the freezer in the morning and by the time I get home from work I’m too tired and hungry to wait for something to thaw. So yesterday, I decided to prep our breakfasts and lunches for the week ahead. I normally pack our lunches the night before, but sometimes binge watching Shameless takes precedence over packing. I spent about two hours total and prepped 30 meals total–breakfast, and lunch for both my husband and I, for Monday through Friday. On weekends, I don’t normally prep–I typically use Saturday and Sunday as somewhat “cheat days” and grab a bowl of cereal or a sandwich and chips. I’ve planned out what we’ll be eating for dinner, but these are mostly crock pot meals and quick dinners that don’t really require any preparation ahead of time.

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I gathered all of my ingredients and handled the prep several steps at a time. I had the rice boiling and the sweet potatoes in the oven while I was chopping peppers for my eggs. There really wasn’t a method to my madness, and my kitchen was certainly a wreck in the process. I just tried to think logically about what I could multitask. The key is having a lot of portable containers! I like to use generic Ziploc plastic containers, and I reuse them until the fall apart. I use the small rectangle “entree” size, and the small round twist & lock variety for most of my lunches. I also utilize small mason jars for things like yogurts and oatmeal, and large mason jars for salads. It’s also a good idea to have the mini seal-able condiment containers for things like hummus and peanut butter. I know a lot of people use glass containers for everything, since plastic isn’t the safest to microwave, but I just haven’t yet gotten there. Plus, my husband is notorious for mysteriously loosing his containers, and the plastic ones are cheap to replace.

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Here is the result of my hard work! I felt so productive and accomplished after finishing, and it’s a great feeling to know I won’t have to do any other preparation until next Sunday! Throughout this week, I’ll be blogging about each meal, including my recipe and how it turned out, so check back every day for more. I don’t claim to be an expert, just a cheap girl trying to healthy it up🙂