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?

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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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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.