- I don’t know how to cook well. (Great! Neither do I!)
- I don’t have time. (Yes you do, stop lying.)
- I have multiple mouths to feed. (So do I, and I’m still a “bad” cook)
- Sundays are my “busy” days. (Great, do this on a Saturday then.)
- I hate shopping and preparing so far ahead of time. (Get over it.)
- My family doesn’t like the same healthy food that I like. (It’s time for that to change!)
Now, follow these general rules:
- Set aside 2 hours for complete process.
- Have at least 15 available Tupperware’s per person you are cooking for.
- Buy 5 varieties of vegetables, 2 varieties of protein and 2 carbohydrate sources for the week.
- Decide upon 3 varieties of snacks per week.
- Have your Zip-Lock baggies ready to pre-pack up all of your snacks for each day.
- Put on a good attitude, music / a podcast / a movie and have a cup of tea or glass of wine so that you can teach yourself that this prep time is an enjoyable part of your weekly routine.
- Once everything is cooked, label and stack in piles according to lunches / dinners and which days they should be eaten. Typically, on dinner meals, combine multiple servings together so that when you come home, all you need to do is dump on a larger serving plate, reheat and then serve to all.
Now, onto the preparation process!
- Clean your kitchen so that you are organized and ready to begin. Place all of your meats together, all of your snacks together, all of your vegetables together and all of your add-ins and spices together.
- Wash all of your vegetables at the same time.
- Make sure that all of your meat is defrosted at the same time.
- Baggie up all of your snack foods at the same time.
- Line up all of your Tupperware
- Once you get the protein started cooking, start making your salads for the week. I recommend a daily salad at lunch and then 3 larger salads to have at night throughout the week. Salads make for an easy dinner by adding shrimp and simple add-ins.
- Pre-plan your dinners for the week. Brandon and I typically have one to two dinners of left-overs from what is cooked on a Sunday and then we keep 3-4 frozen options to add into a salad for an easy dinner after long days of work. Our freezer typically holds the following options: more chicken breast, frozen shrimp, crab cakes, lean ground turkey, and ground chicken (which is amazingly delicious sautéed with roasted red pepper salsa and fresh pepper).
Now, enjoy a picture walk-through of my most recent “cook up”:
A little bit of preparation goes a LONG, LONG, LONG way.
Meals made in the above example:
(1). Sunday night dinner for two:
Stuffed chicken and black-eyed peas zucchini balls with salad on the side.
(2). Breakfasts for two, Monday-Friday.
Titan Whey Protein (bought at Complete Nutrition) + unsweetened almond milk with optional add-ins of blueberries or strawberries. Additional option to simply mix plain with water or to use UMP protein (also bought at Complete Nutrition).
Eggs, cooked up as two full eggs and one to two egg whites, eaten with beans on the side and/or salsa for flavor.
(3). Monday night dinner for two:
Salad and left-over (not already portioned) grilled chicken.
(4). Lunches for two, M/W/F:
Grilled chicken and salad with vegetables and / or black eyed peas or pepper pesto tortillas.
(5). Lunches for two, Tuesday
Shrimp, salad and peas and/or pepper pesto tortillas.
(6). Dinner for two, Tuesday
Salad, zucchini and left-over grilled chicken or shrimp or frozen crab cakes.
(7). Lunches for two, Thursday
Sauteed roasted pepper salsa chicken with extra baked zucchini, peppers and mushrooms on the side with a salad.
(8). Snacks for the week:
Bagged baby carrots, bagged unsalted almonds, bagged pistachios, low fat cottage cheese, bagged peppers, bagged walnuts.
Dinners on Wednesday and Thursday are made that night with whatever has been chosen to be pre-thawed, typically something easy that takes less than 15 minutes. We often select to have a weekly “date night” on Wednesday or Thursday since we are saving so much money and time everywhere else in the weekly eating. Weekend meals are cooked day-of, or are a date-meal out or meal with friends. Sundays are set aside for grocery shopping after church and then 90 -120 minutes of cooking for the week to come.
As you can add up, the approximate cost of these meals is $57. There are add-ins that we don’t have to buy on a weekly basis, making the weekly average cost about $75. Out of $75, we get 17-20 meals, making each meal cost approximately $3.75 per meal. Brandon and I used to spend $10-$15 per lunch, costing us $20-$30/day and thereby saving us about $112.50 per week. These totals depend upon what you choose to cook and what you spend right now, so let’s just call that a savings of $75!
Calorically, it is fair to estimate that you save 200-300 calories per meal that you prepare yourself versus eating out. If you just do a “cook-up” for lunches, you’ll save between 1000 and 1500 calories next week. Add breakfasts and/or dinners to that and your caloric savings can skyrocket upwards of 3,200 – 3,500 calories, or a full pound of fat.
There you go…
…no more excuses!