Preparing for the work week ahead

Eating healthy all week long doesn’t have to be a chore. Just like doing your laundry to make sure you have clean clothes, the key is preparation and can become a productive habit.

I like to take the weekend – usually Sundays – to prepare things in bulk to use throughout the week as easy grab and go items for lunch and supper meals. I find if I have healthy options on hand for meals and snacks I’m less tempted to want those unhealthier items or opt for take-out on those lazy nights I don’t want to cook.

Here are some tips to help meals stay on track for the week ahead:

Prepare proteins:

  • Buy chicken breasts in bulk (especially when they are on sale) and cook three to four chicken breasts at a time. Eat one right away for a meal, then chop the rest up and place in the refrigerator. You can throw the chilled chicken on top of salads, use in a wrap, or heat up with black beans for a quick chicken fajita dinner.
  • Hard boil a dozen eggs at a time. You can use them for egg salad, eat them individually for snacks, or chop them up for a salad topping.
  • Tuna can be pre-mixed and ready to go in the fridge for wraps and sandwiches.

Chop produce:

  • Fresh produce always takes a little prep time. Do it in bulk right when you get home from the grocery store, and you’ll spare yourself the effort later in the week. Pump up the jams or your favourite podcast to keep yourself entertained, and go to town.
  • Start by washing all produce, then trim any ends such as carrot tops, lettuce head bottoms, and sweet potato ends.
  • Then, chop and portion produce. For example, cut celery into snack-sized stalks and prepare a reusable container with celery, carrots, and chopped peppers for a grab and go veggie snack. If you are going to make a stir fry, chop all veggies that you want to include and place in a large container then refrigerate.
  • Take the same approach with fruit – have it cut and ready to go.
  • At the end of the week, if you have left over fruits and veggies, you can throw them in a blender for delicious and nutritious smoothies!

Prepare breakfast meals to go:

  • In the rush of the morning it’s sometimes hard to remember the importance of starting our day with a nutritious meal. Having items on hand helps to avoid unhealthy habits on the run.
  • Make breakfast sandwiches (whole wheat English muffins and eggs), wrap in plastic wrap, and put in the freezer. To reheat take out of freezer and plastic wrap, wrap in a paper towel, and heat in microwave for 45 seconds or until warm. Add salsa for a delicious kick.
  • Pancakes can be made ahead of time, wrapped in portions of 3, and then placed in freezer bag. To reheat take out of freezer and plastic wrap and warm in microwave for 1 minute or until warm.
  • I usually like to make a large batch of muffins over the weekend to have on hand throughout the week to have for snacks. Come mid week I usually wrap and freeze them individually to ensure they are not being wasted. One of my favourite recipes, Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins (from AllRecipes.com), is a source of fibre and has ingredients from four food groups – fruit, grains, dairy and eggs!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup mashed banana

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper liners.
  2. Stir whole wheat flour, rolled oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and chocolate chips together in a bowl. Make a well in the center. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl until frothy; mix applesauce, skim milk, and banana into eggs. Pour moist ingredients into well made in dry ingredients; stir just to moisten. Batter will be lumpy. Fill prepared muffin cups about 3/4 full.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of several muffins comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to finish cooling on wire racks.

Makes 12 muffins.

Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins

Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins

Per serving :177 Calories; 3.7 g Fat; 35 mg Cholesterol; 34.2 g Carbohydrates; 4.7 g Protein; 3.5 g Fiber; 202 mg Sodium.

Kristin Harris is a registered dietitian with Kids Eat Smart Foundation Newfoundland and Labrador.

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