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?

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?

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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Chickpea Zucchini & Carrot Salad

Regular ol’ salads with lettuce or spinach can get a bit tired and boring after a while. This is a great way to still have a vegetable packed salad with a twist!

Zucchini & carrot-2This salad uses shredded carrots and zucchini as the base. I was a bit apprehensive of eating these uncooked, as I’ve never had raw zucchini before, but it actually turned out a lot better than I was expecting. After I got over the “weirdness” of eating uncooked veggies (it’s really just a mental thing) I really enjoyed this salad and will definitely be making it again!

What you need:

For the salad:
-2 zucchinis
-3 peeled carrots
-1 can chick peas
-1/4 tsp paprika
-1/4 tsp chili powder
-1/4 tsp cumin
-1/4 tsp salt
-Olive oil
-Handful chopped basil

For the sauce:
-1 avocado
-1/2 cup pistachios
-Handful cilantro
-Lime juice (maybe about 1/4 cup?)
-Water

What to do:

First, roast the chick peas. Heat the oven to 400. Toss the chick peas in olive oil, paprika, chili, cumin and salt. Spread on baking sheet and bake about 15 min.
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To make the salad, you shred the carrots and zucchini with a peeler (or if you have one of those veggie spiralizers that works) and then toss in the basil.
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For the sauce, blend all sauce ingredients in food processor or blender. Add water until it’s the consistency you want.
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Then add your chick peas to your veggie peelings.
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Add the sauce when you are ready to eat. Do not do so before, as this will make your vegetables and chick peas soggy.
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Mix all together and enjoy! IMG_6786
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Fruit, Yogurt & Granola Parfait

If you’ve ever had the Fruit and Yogurt Parfait from McDonalds, you understand why I would want to make a copycat version. It’s so good! One of the healthiest things you can get on their menu. But I decided to make my own and it turned out even better!

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I ate this for breakfast, but it would also make a great snack, or even a dessert. I always use Dannon Light & Fit Greek Yogurt for my flavored yogurt, I think it tastes the best out of the options I’ve tried. Their vanilla yogurt is so creamy and sweet it could almost satisfy for ice cream. You could certainly try an organic or soy brand, but this is what I had on hand.

What you need:

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– 3/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
-Handful berries or diced fruit of your choice
-Handful of granola

What to do:

It’s so simple, just top your yogurt with fruit and then the granola! Mix all up when you are ready to eat. I made our parfaits the night before and they were great for breakfast in the morning. Next time, I’ll leave the granola out until I’m ready to eat, to keep it from getting a little soft. I’m already considering having another one of these later tonight as an after-dinner treat!

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Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad

Buffalo chicken is one of my favorite things. Specifically, buffalo chicken dip. It’s my absolute go-to for potlucks and parties. I’ve eating it as its own meal on several occasions, and have been known to make it into a sandwich. There’s something about the spicy, tangy buffalo sauce mixed with ranch that makes it so delicious. If you’re a fan of wings, I’m sure you understand. But the dip I make is made with cream cheese, full fat ranch, and almost an entire pack of shredded cheese. Not so much a part of the healthy eating plan.

Quinoa

This recipe was a great way to satisfy my buffalo chicken craving while lightening up my lunch. I was a little apprehensive of the “Greek yogurt ranch ” but ended up impressed. It certainly is no buttermilk ranch dressing, but it does the trick. By packing this salad with quinoa, tomatoes, black beans, corn, spinach and avocados, it was not only nutritious, but also very filling! This will definitely be going into my regular rotation.

What you need:

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-Cooked, shredded chicken (about 2-2 1/2cups)
-3/4 cup buffalo sauce (more or less to taste)
-Packet of Hidden Valley Greek Yogurt Ranch
-1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
-1/2 can Rotel tomatoes & green chiles
-1/2 can black beans
-1/2 can yellow corn
-1 avocado, chopped
-2 cups spinach
-1 cup uncooked quinoa
-2 cups water
-handful cilantro, chopped

What to do:

  1. Rinse quinoa well with a mesh strainer
  2. Cook rinsed quinoa and water on stove until boiling.
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  3. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 15 minutes.
  4. In a bowl, toss chicken with buffalo sauce.
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  5. In separate bowl, combine beans, corn and Rotel.
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  6. In a third bowl, combine ranch packet and yogurt. Mix well.
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  7. Toss spinach with cilantro.
  8. When quinoa is cooked, place all ingredients except ranch in large bowl or travel container.
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  9. When ready to eat, top with ranch and stir.

I made these salads in the evening and left them in the fridge overnight to take to work for lunch. I kept all ingredients in separate corners of the containers to keep anything from getting soggy. I kept the ranch separate for the same reason.

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I actually really really loved this recipe. I love cold quinoa salads to begin with, and the buffalo chicken made it that much tastier. Plus, I have enough leftovers to make lunch for both of us tomorrow, as well!