As I sit here, late Sunday night, that I don’t have a topic for my day 7(?) 100 Days to Offload writing project. Though, while I type this, I’m cooking up my daily lunch for this week. I call it Meal Prep Sunday. It’s a ritual I tend to go through each week because it helps me quantify what I’m eating. This quantification helps me understand where my calories are going and how to control that.

My “lifestyle plan” (it’s not a diet, according to Weight Watchers) is best handled with a careful amount of forward planning. Yes, things happen and I eat something I shouldn’t, but it’s flexible enough to withstand mistakes. The planning is important for me. If I have a plan, I can ensure that I stay on track and eat healthy. Weeks when I just sort of wing it usually end up with me stuffing my face with massive cookies or candy, or something else that is equally unhealthy.

I also like pre-planning because I get to choose what I eat for lunch. Instead of throwing together something in a panic just trying to get out the door. I can also make sure it’s got enough variety to not get bland week to week. While having the same thing every day for lunch sounds like a bland week, when you get to choose, it isn’t.

Sunday Meal Prep

My Meal Prep Sunday ritual came about after reading some interesting posts, and seeing delicious meals on the titular sub-Reddit. The meals described sounded amazing, and the recipes were something my cooking challenged brain could actually, in many cases, handle. Coupled with the fact I could control the input, I got excited to try it.

Fast forward (or rewind, it’s been ages…) to the following Sunday, where I just added a recipe to our shopping cart and dutifully made my first weekly meal. It wasn’t as mindbendingly awesome as I thought. Though I did choose one of the easier meals from The Fresh Market.

little BIG Meals

Speaking of The Fresh Market, they have a (usually) decent selection of “Little Big Meals” that are easy to put together. These meals are designed to feed four people and come with an entree, sides and a desert of some kind. They bundle it up and charge you $20 for the whole kit. This is great for people like me, because I can just pick up a kit, and have lunch for most of the week for cheap.

These meals tend to run through a repetitive cycle, changing each Wednesday. Lots of Kabobs, Stir Fry and Chicken. Occasionally you’ll get a burger meal, or something fancy. However, they’re a great starting point for the newbie prepper. You can pick up a meal, try it out and if you don’t like it, well you’re only down a meal or two of going out to eat.

This Week’s Meal

This week, I’ve eschewed the Little Big Meal. It’s Stir Fry. I’m not a fan. Instead I’m making one of my staples: The Burrito Bowl. I mean, it’s not exactly a Chipotle-class meal, but it’s great, filling and full of protein. Here’s the setup:

  • Chicken: I usually use rotisserie chicken because I’m lazy and all I have to do to “prep” it is take the meat. You can cook/season to your liking, though.
  • Rice: I’ve tried a couple of kinds of rice. Brown rice is… not good. White rice works, but is bland. This week I’m going with a pre-seasoned cilantro-lime rice mix.
  • Guacamole: Homemade guac is best, if you can. Otherwise, I’ve bought some pasty green stuff that claims to be natural.
  • Cheese: Duh.
  • Salsa: I’m using mild here. We had extra from some tacos that never materialized as a dinner meal.
  • Sour Cream: To taste, I like a little.
  • Sir-not-appearing-in-the-header-image-because-I-just-remembered-it-as-I-type-this: Beans. I like both pinto and black. Today it’s black beans because that’s what’s in the pantry. Rinse, please.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you feed your cranky old lady cats when they ask for some of that sweet, sweet rotisserie chicken. They’re going to throw up on your stuff anyway. At least they’ll somewhat regret it. (Spoilers: They wont, at all)

You start by making rice. If you don’t know how to do that, lmgtfy. Once cooked, add to your container. Since I’m doing four days, I set out four easily stacked containers. Divide rice as evenly as possible into the containers.

Next, chicken. Shred, chop, mince or puree your chicken to the desired size/consistency and add that to your containers. This adds a good layer to build upon, and will help keep the next layer from getting too far into the rice.

That layer would be beans. Once you’ve rinsed your beans, just dump ’em into semi-equal parts in your containers. Careful of the can sharp edges. Spread until it roughly resembles a layer.

Moving on. You can add any of the next layers in whatever order suits your fancy. I do it this way, but your way is yours. My next item is guacamole. I add it because it’s usually chunkier/pastier and spreads nicely, it seals in much of the beans, creating a great barrier for the wetter stuff to come.

Next is salsa. I like my salsa spicy, but all I had was mild. Oh well. Spread out in quarters as best you can. At this point things are likely to get messy. Roll with it and spread until even.

Add your sour cream or cheese, next. This is the cool delicious layer that will be microwaved into a gooey delicious topping later on.

Finally garnish with cilantro, if needed.

An after picture of meal prep Sunday. It shows my messy counter with all four meals that have been successfully prepped.
The Damage. As you can see, it got messy.

Hopefully this post inspires you to meal prep, too. It’s easy, you can conscript people who are not otherwise preoccupied and generally do the “family” thing while also aiming for the “healthy” thing. Meal prep also can help with morning stress, especially if you’re one of those people who wakes up 10-minutes before work starts.