Hello, and Happy Monday! Is that an oxymoron? Is there such a thing as a “happy” Monday? I know, kind of a Negative Nancy stance, but let me tell you, we’ve had a rough start to the week. Normally I like setting some personal goals for the week, getting my bearings, doing some meal prep, and starting the week off on the right foot.
Today though…it’s been a rough one. Our beloved doggo (I refuse the term “furbaby,” sorry if that’s your thing…) came down with some serious diarrhea last week so I got him an emergency appointment at the vet for this morning at 9. No problem (except that I was convinced there was something seriously wrong with him and that vet appointment would be our last moments together. I’m dramatic.)
First of all, I slept way later than I wanted to, so I didn’t get to work out first thing this morning. Then the vet called before 8 and said the doctor our dog (Rocko) was supposed to see wouldn’t be in, but we could drop him off and someone would get to him as soon as they could. Ok, I can adjust, that just means I’ll drop Felix at daycare and take Rocko straight to the vet. I figured this would make up for me oversleeping. So I drop Felix at daycare, he runs right over to play with his friends and doesn’t even give me a second look. Literally the best kind of drop off, and the one I hope for every day. I drop Rocko at the vet, he also goes with one of the vet techs without an issue, and now I’m off to get my workout in.
Or am I?
Nope, as soon as I get in the car, daycare calls. Felix has a runny nose and we have to pick him up. Ugh. I get it, I really do, they have to take all the precautions in the world to keep everyone safe, but dang it! He hadn’t even been there for an hour. So I call Dan, he goes to get Felix, and I call his pediatrician and get him an appointment at noon. Felix being home throws everything off, but he’s a great kiddo so I know we’ll have a good day.
On my drive home from the vet, a vet calls me! Thank goodness, Rocko’s exam went well and we talked about our options. Everyone at the vet loved him, he’s super sweet, and it’s so nice to hear that high praise. They wanted to check his stool for parasites but he could be picked up in about 30 minutes. He’s fine. They ended up giving him an antibiotic and probiotic and told us to continue his bland diet (the snob is really loving the rice, pumpkin/sweet potato, and boiled chicken we’ve been spoiling him with).
I get home and fill Dan in on Rocko’s stuff, he agrees to go pick him up and take Felix with him so I can have some uninterrupted time to work out. He’s the best. So we do that, my workout kicks my butt and I swear under my heavy breathing quite a bit, and Dan texts me to say he’s going through the car wash aaaaaaaaand Felix fell asleep in the car. At 10:30. His normal nap time is 12:30. Dan agrees to just drive around and let him sleep but I realize quickly that I will get nothing done today because there will be no true nap time. Oof. He took an hour nap in the car and that was it. Routine totally thrown off. So while we haven’t had the worst day, it’s definitely been different.
All-in-all it’s been ok, just a lot of things to change around and adapt to in a short amount of time. But I’m not here to complain about my very boring and normal life. No, I’m here to continue our discussion of meal prep from last week. If you remember, I talked about my meal prep routine from pre-QUAR, and really that’s just more of what I do during the school year. I’ve had some questions about more specifics, so I thought I would take a look back through my planner at one week of our meals and what I prepped to give you a better idea. I also linked the original recipes to give proper credit for these yummy ideas. So here we go, the planned meals for February 24-28, 2020 (seems like another life….):
Monday: Coconut lime chicken
Tuesday: Sloppy Mike’s
Wednesday: Pulled pork fries
Thursday: Thai meatballs
So the prep for each meal would look like this:
*For the coconut lime chicken I wouldn’t do anything to prep this in advance. The sauce is way better when it’s fresh and I just don’t think it would really hold up to being reheated. I find that sauces based on coconut milk (especially full-fat) tend to separate after the initial cooking. To speed up your cooking time I recommend cutting your chicken into smaller pieces so it cooks faster. I also deviate from this recipe and don’t use any thickeners for the sauce.
*The Sloppy Mike’s are an example of something I would completely make and then we could just heat it up (while the recipe has it as a sandwich we would usually just eat a pile of the meat with no roll, but that’s totally up to you and your dietary preferences. If you’re making it ahead, I would avoid doing the whole sandwich ahead because who wants a soggy sammy?!).
*For the pulled pork fries I would make the pork ahead of time and we would throw some fries in the air fryer for a very quick dinner. We go pretty basic on our pulled pork recipe:
-pork butt or shoulder roast (the bigger the better, we freeze leftovers of big batches and can have it reheated in a pinch)
-1 liter of root beer (we use one of those big bottles of Polar brand and don’t usually use it all, but it’s up to you)
-half an onion, chopped
-4 cloves of garlic (or more, depending on your taste)
-salt and cumin (a healthy coating)
Place the pork in a large slow cooker; you may need to hack it into smaller pieces so it fits more easily. This will also reduce the necessary cook time. Pour in the root beer until it almost submerges the pork. Add remaining ingredients and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Shred that bad boy up and you’re good to go, just add some BBQ sauce (I also will put it on a sheet pan, spritz with lemon or lime juice, and broil until you get some crunchies for some truly amazing carnitas).
Thai meatballs are another thing I would make completely on meal prep day and wait to heat later in the week.
Some things get weird when you prep them too far in advance, but the pulled pork and meatballs could both be frozen after you prepped them and then defrosted the night before. I also really dislike cutting up cucumbers and tomatoes in advance.
As far as prepping sides goes, unless it’s something like spaghetti squash, I usually just don’t. I rely pretty heavily on frozen veggies which we can steam while other stuff is cooking or warming up.
Now (cracks fingers) let’s talk about my current meal prep situation! Summers are nice because
1. It’s freaking summer, man.
2. I’m a teacher so, yeah.
3. Food can be way simpler in the summer, but still delicious.
4. I don’t need to prep as much because I’m usually home anyway.
Over the course of the end of the school year (being home) and in the early days of summer, I noticed that making myself lunch was taking a long time. I started doing the portion control stuff that accompanies Beach Body’s 21 Day Fix program (you know what I’m talking about, with the colored containers and you can have so many of a certain color yada yada). Well, a friend of mine does massive meal prep and portioning and it always looks amazing and easy so I thought “Hey! I”ll do that too!” I kept it very basic: I browned up 2 pounds of ground beef with half an onion and 3-4 cloves of garlic, plus some salt. Then I cooked up 3 medium zucchini (roasted in the oven) along with air fryer carrots and air fryer brussels sprouts (so good, I get the frozen bags at Aldi and then just like the carrots, a bit of olive oil and some adobo and they are AMAZING). When it was all done I portioned the meat and veggies into 5 containers and BAM I had 5 lunches, ready to go.
Portioning out meals like this is so simple, and you don’t only have to do it for lunches. My friend Michelle told me about a strategy she and her family use, where they have overnight oats every weekday for breakfast; they prep 10 containers of the dry ingredients and then before bed add the liquid to a container for her and her husband. If you have the dry stuff together ahead of time, it becomes a much easier habit to stick to! She also advised that if you’re using fresh fruit, add it in the morning, but dried fruit can be put in ahead of time! Mornings are crazy hectic enough, so I love the idea of having breakfast just waiting for you (which I usually do because Dan spoils the crap out of me).
I think it’s important to note that, as we go through various stages and phases of our lives, our energies and focus may shift from time to time. For me, I love doing meal prep because then it’s one less thing I have to think about or worry about. For lunches now I can just grab a container, heat up the contents, and I’m ready to go; it doesn’t matter if my whole day went off kilter and I’m stressed and busy, I have a healthy meal. Last week there was a night where it was hot and I didn’t want to cook, but instead of going the take out route (which I support, see the last blog post) I grabbed one of my prepped meals. It felt pretty dang good to make a healthy choice like that.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with me! I appreciate you powering through it all. When I logged on to the site to write this post I noticed a notification and I needed to approve comments. I didn’t know that was a thing! So thank you for all the kind words, and I’m sorry if it seemed like I was ignoring you. I appreciate the comments, I appreciate you, and I look forward to talking to you soon! 🙂