Meal Prep Mastery: How to Avoid Food Boredom

Being prepared is allll about meal prepping.

IMG_8878.jpg
Classic Sunday prep sesh

 

Meal prepping is the part of eating real food that takes the most activation energy, time, and is a huge deterrent for many people. It’s the part that took longest to learn, and sometimes I just can’t even, and I pull out a frozen meal or eat my “things that taste great with almond butter” plate (starring: plantain chips, carrots, and apples).

Speaking of frozen meals, I’ll launch right into it with tip #1:

When you make a lot of something, freeze two servings. 

I can’t be the only one who gets tired of eating the same leftovers night after night. Before starting the Whole30, I got into a rhythm where I’d cook a compliant meal in a big batch on the weekend and freeze some servings in Ziploc bags, labeled with what it was. This prep definitely saved my butt on days when school was in session and I’d forgotten to buy more veggies (ratatouille time!), or if the weather was colder than usual and I didn’t feel like cold lunch (hello, butternut squash and sausage soup).

Since beginning the Whole30, whenever I make something and don’t feel like I’m going to eat it all by the time it goes bad, I stick it in a bag and freeze it. Getting bored with your food is the enemy of a great Whole30; prep will ensure that you don’t get tired of your meals!

On the weekend, or whenever you have more time than usual, make 2-3 proteins and a couple of veggie dishes. 

I always make sure I have enough different things that I can eat them in various combinations for at least three days. Usually, I have a little time to run to the store on Wednesday or Thursday, but I try to only need veggies. Here’s an example of things I would prep on a weekend day:

  • Curried Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup (Whole30 Cookbook)
  • Homemade sausage or meatballs
  • Roasted brussels sprouts and broccoli (about 1 pack of each, pre-cut, from Trader Joe’s)
  • Roasted sweet potatoes (dicing these takes forever, so at least dice up a few potatoes when you’ve got the time)
  • Bacon
  • Chicken thighs or whole shredded chicken

This menu would give me enough for a few different meal options. Maybe I’d have the homemade sausage with sweet potatoes for Monday breakfast, brussels and bacon for lunch and chicken thighs with soup for dinner. On Tuesday, I’d have bacon and broccoli for breakfast, a shredded chicken salad with greens for lunch, and sweet potatoes with meatballs for dinner. And so on, and so on.

The plus side of this menu is that there’s only one or two real recipes (homemade meatballs/sausage, carrot soup); the rest of the prep is ripping and dumping for roasting (veggies) or slow cooking (whole chicken).

When you have no time, roast.

Roasting is Whole30 microwaving. It’s quick, super simple, and makes for delicious meals.

IMG_9049.jpg
Sweet potatoes 2 ways: chips & fries

My favorite weeknight quick breakfast prep for the next few mornings is to slice up some Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausages (fully cooked, but I like to char ’em) and roast them on a big sheet pan with sweet potatoes or brussels sprouts for maybe 30 mins. Sometimes I’ll season them with curry and cumin, sometimes cinnamon, sometimes just salt and pepper and garlic powder, and it’s extra tasty when everything is cooked in olive oil.

Meats are always great roasted, as are root vegetables of any kind. I also like roasting kale until it’s super melt-in-my-mouth crispy. Yum.

Remix your leftovers.

Get some Tessemae’s in your life. They didn’t have Whole30 compliant condiments (that I was aware of) last time I did the Whole30, but these have changed my life. This past week, I had a big pan of roasted butternut squash chunks and kale from one dinner, plus some crispy turkey (from the Whole30 cookbook) from a different meal. I put them together and added some Tessemae’s mild buffalo sauce (also comes in HOT!) and it was an entirely different meal than either of the first two. I could’ve added spinach underneath and made it a salad by putting a dressing on top. Food is so versatile, especially when previously roasted!

IMG_9130 .jpg
The delicious leftover remix

Even if you don’t have jazzy condiments, make sure you eat foods in a variety of combinations. It will, again, help to avoid food boredom.

Why is food boredom an issue, again?

Here’s my experience: the moments when I start thinking about all the stuff I can’t eat and miss eating are the moments when I have to eat the same old thing for dinner as I ate for lunch, and I know exactly what flavors are coming and I’m just…well…bored. When I’ve whipped up something new and exciting, all I’m thinking about is how great it feels to cook and eat all the good stuff and know that it’s nourishing and healthful.

The single best thing you can do for yourself on a Whole30-type diet is to put some extra energy into preparation, so you’re excited to eat what you’re eating.  Trust me, you will discover some delicious, nutritious stuff!

Meal Prep Mastery: How to Avoid Food Boredom

Before You Whole30…

Here is my golden rule of the Whole30.

  1. Be prepared.

Sorry guys, I teach kids – Disney speaks my language.

Anyway, I am really serious about this golden rule. It served me well in Whole 30 Round 1, and has proved to be even more important in Whole30 Round 2.

How you prepare:

1.Mentally

  • Examine your WHYs. This should happen in your decision-making process about whether or not to do an elimination diet in the first place. Why are you doing it? If you want to improve your general, overall health, make a list of some specific annoying health-related things that you want to get rid of. My naturopath told me, in our first meeting, “this is your space to be the biggest hypochondriac you’ve ever been. Name everything that’s wrong, and pretend we have a magic wand that can fix all of it.” Do this for yourself before your Whole30. Here were some of my issues that I hoped to fix:
    • Sleeping poorly – I kept waking up at 2:30, unable to fall back to sleep
    • Skin problems – hand eczema that would get inflamed after eating
    • Bloat – I always felt like I had air bubbles in my stomach
    • Anxiety and stress – whenever I’d get stressed, my body would panic. Stomach aches, sweats, and manic hyperfocus ensued, which was draining and counterproductive.
    • Headaches and fatigue
    • Extreme bouts of grouchiness, especially during the school day
    • Head fog – my head felt totally cloudy, like I couldn’t think clearly
  • Write down how you feel right now. This might be similar to your WHY list, but it will be a good thing to flip back to when you’re questioning if the diet worked for you, 30 days later.
  • Write down how you want to feel. You might discover some more WHYs in this process.
IMG_8998.jpg
My pre-W30 journaling

I also had in mind some specific habits I needed to break. I realized that after a stressful class, I always craved chocolate. I would eat too much of it, have a manic sugar high, then crash hard (and need more) an hour later. Ditto dessert after dinner. Ditto, really, sugar of any kind. So, that was one of my main goals: examine the craving and think about if I really needed it. Based on that, I’d either eat a balanced snack or wait until the next meal (if I wasn’t really hungry…about 75% of the time, it turns out). Think of some habits that aren’t serving you well. If you can’t think of any, you may discover some as you go along.

IMG_8603.jpg
My pre-Whole30 Costco haul

2. Physically.

  • Prepare your space. Collect all of the non-compliant snacks and put them out of sight or give them away. I put all of my snacks on the porch and forgot about them. If you won’t forget about them, eat them all before you start or find someone who will. You will be happy you did this in week 2, when your resolve is fading.
  • Go to Costco. Here’s my list:
    • Tomato products (diced and paste) – read the label in case of added sugar
    • Applesauce (unsweetened, they sell Tree Top in packs of 2), and canned pineapple – both are sweet treats
    • Bone Broth – chicken or beef, read the label for non-compliant ingredients
    • Ghee and/or coconut oil (they sell HUGE jars)
    • Aidell’s chicken apple sausages (they sell packs big enough to freeze), or a compliant Italian one that they also have
    • Whole chickens (if you have the fridge and freezer space)
    • Chicken thighs or breasts to freeze
    • Dried fruit (they have sugar-free mangoes)
    • Nuts (walnuts and almonds are compliant, no icky oils)
    • Spices
  • Order compliant things from Amazon.
    • Nutpods (3-flavor variety pack)
    • EPIC, Rx, or Larabars for emergencies
    • Primal Kitchen Greek Dressing and Avocado Oil Mayo (contains egg)
    • Tessemae’s – look for the compliant ketchup, BBQ sauce, dressings and marinades, or buy the Whole30 starter kit. These will liven up your salads and protein servings even on the laziest days!
    • Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides – when added to coffee with some coconut oil, they make it creamy and satiating, plus they’re good for joint health and other things
  • Acquire, from anywhere (Trader Joe’s is awesome, though):
    • Coffee
    • Coconut milk, cream, and flakes (Trader Joe’s has all of them)
    • Sweet potatoes and onions (from Costco for me)
    • Frozen mangoes, butternut squash
    • Riced broccoli (fresh) and riced cauliflower (fresh and frozen)
    • Ginger and garlic, herbs
    • Fresh fruits and veggies
    • Lacroix (SO GOOD) and Kombucha (Synergy is mostly sugar-free and has so many flavors)
  • Other helpful things:
    • Whole30 and Whole30 Cookbook – recipes, tips, tricks, and everything. Most stuff is also on www.whole30.com.
    • Follow @whole30 and @whole30recipes and @melissa_hartwig on Instagram. There, you will find a whole bunch of other people doing what you’re doing and loving it! It’s inspiring.

My second time around, I did most of these things before Day 1. If you’ve already started, you can still go get these super useful supplies! It’s never too late to shake up your Whole30 ingredients. Food boredom is real.

Lastly, keep a food journal. Maybe it’s pictures on your phone, maybe it’s that cute little notebook you’ve been wanting to buy…but get it, and track your progress. Record what you eat and how you feel. I’m still editing my system for this, because it can get tedious. But it’s well worth it when you can look back and see the progress you’ve made, and how much better you feel! It’s also a great resource if you decide you need a doctor’s help.

It seems like a lot, but preparation is SO key. Think of all this hard stuff now (maybe a weekend of work) making your life easier for the next month! If you get really advanced, you can make some Whole30 meals and freeze portions of them, too.

There are more layers to being prepared, but I’ll cover those next, with meal prep!

Does anyone have favorite clean food products? I’m always looking to add to my list. 🙂

IMG_8677.jpg
Started the New Year off with a Whole30-approved brunch for my friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before You Whole30…