Preparing meals early makes big difference

A few issues ago I talked about giving up going out to eat for Lent which of course has had its challenges. Being in a relationship means that my boyfriend also has had to give up going out to eat as often as he would like, and for foodies like us, that’s quite a sacrifice.

Instead of lunches out to 1201 and dinner dates to Like My Thai, we’re dining in. Of course there have been a few moments of weakness where I found my fingers dialing the number to Porky’s and my mouth chewing a chicken bacon ranch pizza before I could stop myself.

I’m trying to be better about it and take a few preventative measures. I make sure my boyfriend and I are equipped with proper snacks for the day, so we don’t make any “hangry” decisions. In addition, we’ve switched out our dinner dates for Sunday meal prep.

Previously I thought meal prep was for moms and muscle heads, and the Instagram collages were more than I could handle. They looked so elaborate and well-thought out. I thought for sure that wasn’t something I could make happen in an afternoon on my budget.

But after a long day of classes and knowing there was nothing microwaveable in my apartment, the temptation to stop at Molly’s for dinner was too real. It’s not like I don’t have food in my apartment. I have plenty of food; it just has to be cooked.

It all started with an Instagram post where my friend made a week’s worth of meals with chicken, rice and Sriracha. She let me know just how easy it was to find different recipes using the same ingredients, so you don’t have to make a mountain of dishes in an attempt to feed yourself for the week.

Last Sunday I got creative with some Mason jars. For breakfast I made a layered Greek yogurt parfait topped with rolled oats and blueberries. The next jar contained a salad that defied all rules of salads.

Typically when I pack a leafy lunch I have to consider the dressing. I either have to find a teeny tiny container for my two tablespoons of Italian dressing or deal with a soggy salad because my dressing has wilted my lettuce.

Pinterest let me know that if you put your dressing on the bottom and then add your other tasty ingredients — chicken, feta, almonds, carrots — by putting the leaves near the top of the jar and sealing the lid with a paper towel, your salad will be perfectly fresh.

This Sunday I browned some turkey, peeled some zucchinis and made ravioli for days. I know what you’re thinking; “But Brianna, where is the pasta, how come no cheese?” To which I explain that I was able to craft little raviolis out of strips of zucchini folded and stuffed with ground turkey, spinach, garlic and onion, and smothered in marinara sauce.

The best part is that I don’t have to feel guilty about the food I made. It’s not like picking up lunch that comes in a branded paper bag because this food doesn’t make me smell like french fries for the rest of the day.

Making food ahead of time has saved a good deal of money for me as well. Instead of spending $9 on a chicken steak and fries, I can spend $10 ingredients that make three meals or more.

Meal prep has not only saved me money and time, but it has also been a fun way for my boyfriend and me to get creative in the kitchen. Now we compete over who finds the best recipes — extra points for creative use of vegetables and there’s normally a match of rock, paper, scissors to settle who gets to post the food pics.

 

BRIANNA WOODS

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