Thursday: Copycat Starbuck Protein Bistro Boxes

This lunch is one of my favorite go-tos! The ingredients are cheap and there’s hardly any prep work outside of throwing items in a container. If you’ve ever had a Starbucks Protein Bistro Box, you know how good they are, but also how expensive. It is soooo much cheaper to make these on your own!

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Starbucks’ Protein Bistro Box

I packed a cluster of red grapes, hardboiled eggs (one for me, two for Joel,) a slice of multigrain bread cut into triangles, monterey jack cheese squares, an apple, and a side of peanut butter.   I prefer sliced apples to dip in my peanut butter, but I cut them when I set down to eat my meal. Apple slices turn brown too quickly after cut, and I don’t like how the tartness that lemon juice adds when trying to preserve them. Has anyone found a good way to keep apple slices from browning?

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My homemade protein bistro box

I love how easy this meal is to throw together and how tasty everything is combined as a meal! The sweet grapes and apples are balanced well with the salty egg and cheese and peanut butter is one of my absolute favorites so you can’t beat that!

What was your Thursday lunch?

“Where They Found Her” by Kimberly McCreight

This book was on my TBR list for a long time before I finally got the chance to read it! I read Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight a few years ago and was obsessed. It was definitely a high ranker on my list. For some reason my local library was late to the game in getting Where They Found Her, and since I absolutely refuse to pay for a book (the bane of my existence when my library doesn’t have one I crave) it waited and waited on my list. But lemme tell ya, it was well worth the weight!

When the body of an unidentified infant is found deserted in a New Jersey park, three unconnected woman find themselves tied together in ways they never imagined.

Journalist Molly Brown is assigned as the lead reporter on the case of the found baby. Having recently mourned the loss of her own child, the assignment becomes an emotional uphill battle for Molly.

High school dropout Sandy is navigating through her mess of a life which includes studying for her GED and trying to make ends meet, all while searching for her MIA alcoholic and destructive mother.

Wife of the lead detective in the unidentified infant case, Barbara is struggling to deal with the struggles of her own son, who has recently become the “problem student” in his school.

Where they Found Her alternates storylines and perspectives of these three women and leaves the reader dying to know how they will eventually intersect. Though at first it is hard to keep track of the numerous characters and minor storylines, McCreight pulls everything together nicely toward the end of the story. Her writing is detailed and precise, letting us into the lives of the three main characters in their separate, but similarly challenging, struggles. The only thing I didn’t adore about this book was some of the “fluff,” such as Molly’s newspaper stories. Since they typically reiterated information already discovered in the book, they appeared to me as more filler than pertinent to the novel. But, again, very minor flaw in a deliciously engrossing book.

I really thought I had the ending to this one “figured out,” but was wowed with a surprise ending that, while somewhat farfetched, was completely gripping. Where They Found Her kept my interest until the last page and left me both bewildered and very impressed.

4.25/5 stars!

www.kimberlymccreight.com

Tuesday: Salad with Grilled Chicken/Turkey Sandwich

For today’s lunch, Joel had exactly what I had yesterday. The only difference is he had a whole sandwich, while I only had a half.

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Joel’s turkey sandwich and sides

I had a salad. I much prefer spinach/arugula salads over lettuce salads. I am okay with lettuce if it is romaine and really green but I can’t stand white watery iceberg lettuce…yuck. My salad base was mixed greens and my toppings were blue cheese, blueberries, sliced almonds, and grilled chicken strips. I used a creamy poppyseed dressing. I know creamy dressings aren’t the healthiest, but I prefer a pretty dry salad so I probably don’t even use a teaspoon of dressing. For the sake of time in meal prep, I use pre-sliced Perdue grilled chicken slices, rather than  grilling and slicing my own.

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For my side, I had a pack of cheese and cracker sticks made by Laughing Cow. These are a throwback to the Kraft Handi-Snacks of elementary school, but healthier and just as tasty!

What was on your lunch menu for Tuesday?

Monday: Turkey Sandwich/Tuna Salad Sandwich , Celery & Peanut Butter, and Cheese

Today’s meal was pretty simple. A good ol’ deli sandwich with some sides. Joel had a whole tuna salad sandwich. I had a half of a turkey sandwich. I used multigrain bread for mine, and regular white bread for Joel’s. Both sandwiches had lettuce, and mine had a little mayo with provolone cheese.

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Joel’s tuna salad sandwich

I am not a huge fan of celery, especially not by itself. I know it is “negative calories” or whatever, so I should probably be shoving it down my throat, but I’m not too keen on the bitter juiciness, combined with the fibrous stalk. But, I sure do love peanut butter. I haven’t had peanut butter and celery probably since elementary school, and I was pleasantly surprised! The peanut butter totally masked the celery, I couldn’t taste it at all.

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My deli turkey 1/2 sandwich

A friend asked if my cheese dries out throughout the week when I prep. The answer is not at all! As long as the cheese is kept in an airtight container, I’ve never had a problem with dryness. Today we had a variety of cheddar, swiss, and mozzarella. They were all great! If you are still having concerns, you can always use individually wrapped Baby Bell or Laughing Cow cheese.

What did you have for lunch on your Monday?

Meal Prep Sunday

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a full meal prep! I still do some level of food preparation on Sundays for the week ahead, but a few things have changed since the last time I posted. I no longer prep breakfast meals, only lunches. My husband’s job has changed recently and he now doesn’t have to leave the house until 11 a.m., so he eats breakfast at home daily. Also, for the last several months I’ve switched to drinking a green smoothie every morning as my breakfast. I always included smoothies in my breakfast rotation, but drinking them daily has really been beneficial. I no longer have to worry about “what’s for breakfast,” and having a green smoothie ensures I start my day off with some vegetables and fruits. It also saves money by not having to buy a variety of breakfast groceries each week–now I only get ingredients for smoothies (recipes to come soon!) and some hearty items like eggs, sausage and bacon for my husband.

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The prep I did this evening created five lunches for my husband, and four for me. I get off at noon on Fridays (HUGE job perk!) so I eat my Friday lunches at home. Ideally, Joel and I would be eating the same thing on the same day, but this week I’m making a conscious effort to use up the items that will go bad the quickest at the beginning of the week. So, his and my meals don’t completely synch up. For the past few weeks I have been making the same lunches every day for an entire week. Prepping this way, Monday and Tuesday are great. By Wednesday, the meals are getting a little boring. By Thursday, I’m dying to drive to McDonalds for lunch. And God bless Joel for eating the same lunch again on Friday! Last weekend I threw a surprise birthday party for my dad and we had a TON of Costco pinwheel wraps leftover. So guess what we had every.day. last week for lunch? Yep, pinwheels. When I asked Joel what he thinks he may like for lunch this week he said “please, Lord, anything but pinwheels!” So this week I wanted to get back into the old routine and switch up the meals somewhat throughout the week. The entire prep took a little longer than it has been lately, but only about an hour total from start to finish. My grocery bill yesterday was about $90, but that included all ingredients for lunches and dinners for the upcoming week. I should have plenty of leftovers for next week, so long as my produce keeps fairly well. (Side note, I grocery shop at our local discount grocery store called Sharp Shopper. It’s seriously the shit. A bag of organic baby kale cost $1.99 and a pint of vanilla Greek yogurt was 99 cents. I don’t know what I did before this store came to our town. It’s definitely my jam.)

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A new thing I added to this prep was super high tech sticky notes. I’ve noticed that sometimes the entire meal doesn’t fit into one plastic container (I knowwwww, I know, I really need to switch to glass!) so I usually have some loose items on the same shelf of my fridge as the main part of the meal. “Side” items include things like apples, sides of dressing, fruit cups, etc. Since I’m the one who prepped, I know what I need to grab with my salad or sandwich container, but my husband doesn’t. He also will sometimes grab my lunch accidentally instead of his own. So this time around I put sticky notes on each container that has our name, the day of the week the meal is for, and what side items to grab. Hoping this will cut out some confusion, and will keep my husband from picking the “good lunches” and leaving me with tuna salad every day. (JK I actually love tuna salad, sorry office mates!)

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So here it is, the final prep. Each day this week I’ll be doing a post about our individual meals for the day. If you have any questions, feel free to let me know! What meals do you include in your weekly meal prep?

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To-Be-Read List

I am CONSTANTLY adding new books to my “to-be-read” list, much faster than I can read them. I get my suggestions from a variety of places, the most common being:

  • Amazon, specifically the “customers who bought this item also bought…”
  • Book bloggers and Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Good Reads (www.goodreads.com)

So, here are the books I’m anxiously awaiting reading!

What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan
The Child by Fiona Barton
Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson
The Trespasser by Tana French
We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley
The Doll’s House by M.J. Arlidge
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica
The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
Confess by Colleen Hoover
November 9 by Colleen Hoover
Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Good as Gone by Amy Gentry
The River at Night by Erica Fenerick
Triptych by Karin Slaughter
Kisscut by Karin Slaughter
Coptown by Karin Slaughter
Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch
Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner
No One Knows by J.T. Ellison
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich
The Fourth Monkey by J.D. Barker
This Is Not Over by Holly Brown
The Dark Room by Jonathan Moore
Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia
Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough
Ill Will by Dan Chaon
The Guise of Another by Alan Eskens
We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilley
Fellside by M.R. Carey
Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry
The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Little Monsters by Lauren Beukes
The Dry by Jane Harper
The Dark Rose by Erin Kelly
I’m Traveling Alone by Samuel Bjork
The Killing Lesosns by Saul Black
Trust No One by Paul Cleave
The Ritual by Adam Nevil
Exquisite by Sarah Stovell
What She Saw byGerard Stembridge
Tornado Weather by Deborah Kennedy

I’d love other suggestions you think I need to put on my radar!