My Meal Prep

It’s Saturday! Which means it’s my food prep day! I’ve only done this for two weeks now.  The first week was amazing, and I spoke briefly about how life changing it was here.  This week was a bit different as I’ve been sick so I haven’t been eating very well at all, however, the amount of time I saved each night was still just as helpful! I thought today that I would walk you through last weeks food prep and comment a bit about what was good and what I could improve on based on how my week went.

So let’s dive in.

I usually sit down on Thursday and brainstorm what types of foods I’ll make for the next week.  My general rules are: it has to be relatively quick to prepare and it needs to be healthy and nutritious.  I do try to have some variety and the trickiest part is preparing food for my son because he can be super picky while at the dayhome, in the end I pack him generally the same breakfast and snacks each day that I know he really loves and I pack a variety of lunches which are always hit and miss.  To be honest, usually my husbands food wins over mine when it comes to what Ezekiel will eat.  After preparing a list of what I’ll make I then create a shopping list.  I do my Superstore run on Friday evening after work for any dairy or packaged food (cereals, crackers mostly) and my Market run on Saturday morning with Ezekiel for all my produce.

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This is the size of my kitchen, not overly large and everything is pretty accessible and close.  I do try to clean as I go so it’s not so overwhelming at the end of my prep time.  Last week I set my timer to see how long it would take and it was about 2 hours and 15 minutes.

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For anything that needs to be heated I use glass containers, for anything else I’m ok with using plastic.  It’s a bit tricky strategizing what food will go in what container, by the end I have almost run out of containers.
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It really helps to be organized with your containers, I never have to search for lids or containers which speeds up the process considerably.

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Last week I used maple syrup.  I put the entire container of yogurt in a bowl and mixed in about 2.5 Tbsp maple syrup.

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I measured out the yogurt into individual portions – 6 for me and 5 for Ezekiel.  For Ezekiel I added some blueberries.
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This was my loot from the market last week.  It was an incredible deal and I couldn’t resist it.  I ended up making a bunch of fruit salad and then freezing the rest.  I should have frozen the majority of it.  The problem was that the fruit was ripe on the verge of overripe so when I made the salad it ended up going bad by Wednesday.

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I watch Netflix as I do this to keep me company. IMG_9034
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The biggest problem was that I added the fruit salad to my yogurt which means I wasted far too much food.  Lesson learned.  The frozen fruit has been really great for smoothies each morning, Ezekiel and I have been loving them.
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One of Ezekiel’s favourite snacks is cheese and crackers.
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I also send cereal each day.  This is my favourite brand for Ezekiel, it’s got great ingredients and is far more nutritious than regular cheerios.

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Cut up veggies has been amazing for lunches and to snack on at home.   Even Ezekiel loves snacking on veggies.  I pack a big container (on the right) and then I can eat as much as I want, I just keep bringing the same container each day and I bring a dip as well.  I have wasted far less veggies doing this because I don’t get lazy and they are ready to eat so no more prep needed!
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Boiled eggs are easy and fast to grab and go, and super healthy!
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This is how I prepared the fruit to freeze, then when they were completely frozen I put them into ziplock bags.  When you do it this way they won’t stick together in the bags.

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That’s it! 2 hours of work that saved me at least 1 hour each night! I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

Do you have any meal prep tips? I’m always looking for easier more efficient ways to do things.

Back to Work Food Prep

Wow! I have been away for a while and I’ve missed you!  It’s been a busy week, and I’ve successfully completed my first day away from Ezekiel.

In short, we all had a good day – I’ll expand on my thoughts/feelings/stresses later on. For now let’s focus on how I prepared last week.

Last week my parents came to visit before their departure to the US for the winter.  It was so so so fantastic to have them here, and Ezekiel was over the moon.  He is smitten with them and that makes my heart so happy.  It goes without saying that they are equally or even more so smitten with him.  So with them being here it was easy for me to keep my promise to myself.  I did very minimal things (but I did learn how to hem pants thanks to my mom!), but the day they left I went into full fledged preparation/stress mode.

Honestly, preparing and organizing three people is like a full time job in itself! I spent the weekend doing laundry, cleaning the house, organizing meals, prepping Ezekiel’s food (in another post I’ll explain this), getting bottles ready, preparing my work bag and Ezekiel’s dayhome bag.  I thought I’d share the food portion of my organizing.

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I’ve been using my Erin Condren Life Planner to plan our suppers (this week looks like a huge mess!) we are just finishing up our last bulk order of meat so it’s been hard to plan original meals! Anyways on the days I’m working I’ve planned to use our freezer meals.

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After planning our suppers I decided I needed to plan mine and Ezekiel’s full days of meals, that way I don’t have to think about food on the days I’m working.  Since I work 12 hour days I have to plan every meal from breakfast to supper.  We’ve had to start pureeing Ezekiel’s food again so I’ve left his blank for this week as I get used to it.  For my dinners I’ll just eat what I’ve already planned for suppers at home.  Snacks at work are essential to save me money and calories, otherwise I’ll be wandering to the coffee shop on my breaks and spending too much money on unnecessary things.

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Although I didn’t plan specifics for Ezekiel’s meals I did spend Saturday morning prepping all this food for him.  I mix and match for his lunches and suppers.  So far he’s enjoyed each of my concoctions. It’s been great to be able to just grab the containers, and throw some stuff into the blender.

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I reorganized our fridge to help with the planning.  The top left shelf is all of Ezekiel’s food.  the top right is beverages and dairy.  The middle left is yogurt and fruit.  Middle right is leftovers and miscellaneous.  The bottom shelf I’ve placed our planned food.

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The left is a bin for my lunches. All previously frozen into individual portions, I just pull them out of the freezer and put them in the bin.  The middle is a bin for snacks I’ve prepared and frozen (granola bars/scones etc.) again I just have to pull them out of the freezer and place them in the bin.  On the right is the meats I’ll be using for the week when I’m not working.  I take them out of the freezer and put them in the bowl to thaw.

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Behind the bowl I put the freezer meals that Carlos can grab and heat for suppers when I’m working.

I’ve only been back to work for a day but so far I’m loving this planning and prepping.  It’s taken a lot of stress off of going back to work.

Erin Condren Life Planner

Erin Condren Life Planner

I don’t often splurge on items, and I also don’t often buy myself a birthday gift but this year I decided to do both.

You’ll notice that I’m definitely fixating on my return to work, it’s what I do when I’m worried or stressed about something – I fixate.

So in light of my returning to work and my sense of losing control of many things – mainly the daily ins and outs of Ezekiel, I decided that a good planner would help me to organize all of our lives and give me a sense of control again.  Of course I know this is in vain – ultimately I’m not really in control, but it makes me feel better so let’s just pretend I am oblivious to that fact.  This year while I’ve been at home I’ve been trying to use my iPhone and MacBook calendars to organize my life, and it’s been fine for the year but I’m still so drawn to paper.  The more I simplify my life the more I realize that technology gives me a bit of a sense of clutter.  I like to have things laid out on paper, I don’t know why.  I do know that I’m never going to be able to completely get away from technology (hello blog!) but the less I use my phone and computer the less cluttered I feel.  Hence my decision to use a paper planner rather than a digital calendar.

I browsed lots of planners in Chapters and Staples but didn’t find one that I absolutely loved.  I researched online and it came down to this planner or Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner.  I chose this one for a couple different reasons: 1) I could add the months from now until 2015 and 2) it has a folder in the back of it to hold letters, documents, etc. etc. and 3) I fell head over heels for this white and gold theme.

Life Planner Package

It came packaged super cute with some fun extras that I plan on using randomly with gifts.

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Another bonus is this perpetual calendar for birthdays, anniversaries and other special dates.

When it arrived I immediately sat down with a Pumpkin Spice Latte in hand and started browsing through the planner and jotting down things here and there, dreaming of how I was going to use it creatively and effectively.  So far I’m loving it, although it’s only been a few days I feel like I’m going to continue loving it.  I’m planning on using it a few different ways:

  • Obviously to plan my own work/life balance.  I’m joining self scheduling at work starting in January, which basically means I can choose the days/shifts I want to work – with guidelines of course, but having a nicely laid out planner with full month spreads in essential in planning and picking well.
  • I’ll be using it as a blog editorial calendar.  I intend to keep up with my blog posts once I go back to work, so I know I’m definitely going to have to have posts planned well in advance.  The planner will be essential in this.
  • I’ll be able to meal plan using this planner and my kitchen book.  There’s space at the bottom of each day to jot down that days supper plans.  I’ll doing that one or two weeks in advance so that I can transfer it to our soon to be menu board.  This gives me a heads up for groceries for the week, and what to pull out of the freezer for the week.  It also will help my husband to know what I’ve laid out for that nights meal when I’m at work.  With another little mouth to feed I’m afraid my husband will be very overwhelmed being on his own and figuring out what to make for supper.
  • I’ll be keeping a running tab of Ezekiel’s days and milestones.  Right now I keep a journal specifically for Ezekiel that I write down little things we’ve done, big milestones he’s made and generally how life is with him around.  I plan on giving it to him when he’s much older, and I really want to keep doing something similar but after 10 months of using the journal I’ve realized that it’s not realistic to maintain.  Along with the journal I’m doing a digital photo book of his first year, and I’ll transfer some of the journal entries into it.  It’s like double work! Before I realized this I was already so committed that I decided to just finish off the year.  So in 2015 I’m trying a different approach using my life planner to jot down general things that happen and then doing a Project Life Binder to keep photos and general journal entries using my life planner as a guide.  As I write that it feels like that will be just as much work… Again I think it’s the tendency to draw away from technology that attracts me.
  • I’ll be keeping track of finances and budgeting.  I already have a good-for-me system in place for my budget so I’m not sure if this one will stick but I’m going to give it a go and see how it turns out.

Generally I want this to be my all-encompassing-life-book.  I’m excited to see how it unfolds and makes me feel in control! HA!

Do you use a planner? Do you like digital over paper or are you like me and need paper? If you’re interested in trying out anything Erin Condren you can click here for a $10 off code on your first purchase.  Full disclosure this will also give me a $10 credit.

Here’s to simplifying life and trying to feel in control!