Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Favorite Breakfast Meal Prep Recipes

As I mentioned last week, I will be sharing some of my favorite recipes for meal prep. This week I am sharing five of our go to breakfast recipes so you can start your day off with zero stress. I have tried to include recipes for everyone, or ones that can be easily modified for your own dietary restrictions. All pictures are by each blogger, and the recipe is linked in each description.

Hash Brown and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Whole 30 compliant, dairy free and gluten free. I discovered this casserole by 40 Aprons when I had to go dairy free while nursing. It is creamy, hearty, and keeps well in the refrigerator. Oh, and did I mention it's super easy to make? This recipe is both husband and toddler approved, so it's a keeper.

Simple Banana Bread

If you have bananas that are going a little too ripe, this is the perfect recipe to use. With minimal ingredients and skill required it is a great on the go treat or addition to a larger meal. You can also modify it by adding anything you like! Nuts, chocolate chips, or berries.

Vegan Overnight Oats

If you're vegan, gluten or dairy free, then look no further than Oh She Glows overnight oats. Easily modified to be none of those things, this is a great "base recipe" and only takes a few minutes before bed each night to whip together. Overnight oats are wonderful during the summer, because they are cool and creamy. Sometimes I heat mine up in the morning, and it is still faster than cooking oats from scratch. 

Zucchini & Caramelized Onion Egg Muffins

These Tone It Up  egg muffins are quick and delicious! They keep for about 4 days in the fridge, and can be used for more than breakfast. If you need a quick high protein addition to a meal or snack, they are just as good as grabbing a hard boiled egg. I like eating mine with a little hot sauce.

DIY Starbucks Protein Bistro Box

Last week I told you that we always hard boil eggs as a part of meal prep each week, and these are a great use of those. In fact this "recipe" by No. 2 Pencil is great for those who like to portion out full meals for the entire week. I still approach these by loading them up the night before, but they are hands down my husband's favorite breakfast to take with him to work.  

What are some of your favorite meal prep recipes? 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Meal Prep 101: Getting Started

Oh, meal prep. I cannot tell you how much it has changed not only my life, but our family life. Taking some time each week to plan out our meals and prepare items ahead of time obviously saves time but it also saves money, too! When my husband and I first started budgeting each month we noticed that most of our money was being spent on last minute "quick bites" aka unhealthy fast food. We have saved money by eating at home more often and we have been living healthier lives as well. Win-win! Meal prep can look different for everyone. I will break down different methods today and what has worked best for us.

Start with a clean refrigerator. Take some time to take inventory of what you have in the fridge and what you need to replenish. I like to do this on Fridays by taking everything out, wiping down the shelves with some DIY cleaner, and making my list as I go.

DIY Refrigerator Cleanser:
- 1 teaspoon of castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner's unscented)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 4-6 cups of warm water
- 3-5 drops Lemon essential oil (optional) - I like to add this in for the scent, and because lemon oil is great for cleaning grime without a lot of harsh chemicals.
Mix all ingredients together and use a microfiber cleansing cloth, washcloth, or paper towel to clean off your shelves

Make a list of essentials you need to restock. For us this is fruit, milk, and eggs. What do you find yourself reaching for consistently? Assess your pantry items as well - what has gone out of date? What are you running low on?

Create a weekly menu. This is where we get into different thought processes. I have seen people come up with one meal idea, such as a salad and sides for lunch, and put together 7 containers of individual meals. You can find this all over Pinterest and Google. This is not feasible for our family because there are too many people and not enough space. Personally I would prefer to make a big batch of that meal and take some time at night to put it in the container needed for work the next day rather than dedicating that much room in my refrigerator for lunch alone. However, if you have the room then go for it! Break out all of those containers and create individual portions. It makes grab and go very easy and you can keep on track with portion control. On the other hand, we tend to make a menu/list of what we will be eating throughout the week and I make certain items ahead of time. I organize that list like so:

Egg muffins, fruit
Egg muffins, fruit
Egg muffins, fruit
Deli boxes
Deli boxes
Leftover items
Scrambled eggs, toast, fruit
Salad + protein
Salad + protein
Salad + protein
Sandwich, snacking vegetables
Tuna sandwich, snacking vegetables
Leftovers from dinner
Anything left in the fridge, thrown into a soup or salad!
Protein muffins
Protein muffins
Protein muffins
Greek yogurt + berries + granola
Greek yogurt + berries + granola
Greek yogurt + berries + granola
Snack on protein muffins/balls, any vegetables left from the week
Tray bake
Crock pot meal
Fish + vegetables + rice
Grill out

Keep in mind we have a toddler, so we also make a list of her favorite foods such as fruit, yogurt, hot dogs, etc. to have on hand. While we always offer her meals we eat in order to encourage her to try new things, she is definitely on a toddler diet and we have to play it by ear.

Certain meals may vary week by week (such as dinner) but certain things I meal prep each week without fail:

- hard boiled eggs, perfect as breakfast or a protein add-on to any meal
- chopped vegetables for easy snacking such as celery, sweet peppers, carrots, cucumber
- freeze bananas for smoothies
- wash and slice berries, our daughter's favorite
- a large salad for lunches or as a side for dinner - kale is a perfect base for this because it is hearty enough to marinate in dressing for several days without getting soggy

Do the main meal prep on Sunday, and refresh on Wednesday. Wednesday is the day I boil more eggs, run out for milk if we ran out, and freeze any bananas that look like they are getting too ripe. I may also replenish our lunch salad bowl. It is also a time where I may notice that we have more leftovers than anticipated, so I can make some menu items the following week, such as chicken breast. I will freeze any meat or bread that will not be needed after all so as to not go bad.

Soon I will be sharing my favorite/go-to recipes for meal prep! Have you tried meal prep? What has worked for you?

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Making friends in a new city

Our first weekend in Cinci, 2013

Shortly after undergrad I was in the middle of applying to graduate programs when my husband received a call from an employer offering a full time job and a master's degree. The only catch? It was in a different state. He had been excited about this program and telling friends about it for months, so I didn't think twice about it when he asked me to move with him. It would be a new adventure together as a married couple. We had a family member living there, and extended family within driving distance.We packed up our small car with suitcases, an air mattress and our cat to move from Raleigh, NC to Cincinnati, OH.

Now this would be different living in a new city solo. We had a family member introduce us to a few people, and I had my husband with me. However I have lived in new cities by myself, too. Catching up with friends via text, phone calls, or messenger was nice for a short period of time but I found myself longing for an in-person friendship. I wanted to form my new tribe, so to speak. Connection is important, and I wanted to have people to share this new chapter of my life with. On my first birthday in my new city I decided to make a change and really put myself out there. It took time, but slowly I formed relationships and now five years later I can confidently say we have "settled" into a new circle of friends.

But I'm an introvert, I can hear some of you thinking. Me too. I am what I call a "very extroverted introvert" in that I am often bubbly and can talk to people, but I recharge individually. Whether you have twenty friends or one very close one is up to you and what you feel comfortable with, but it is still important to make those connections. Here is what I learned over the last few years.

Let your friends, family, and acquaintances know where you are moving. Often times someone you know will know someone in the area you are moving. Even if you do not form long lasting, deep connections with them it is nice to feel like you can reach out to someone if you need to. Say, if you have a flat tire. I've been on both ends of this: seeking people out who lived in the area I was moving, and having people let me know someone they are close to is moving into town.

Join groups or clubs that interest you. It is different making friends in your twenties than it is in college, when you are surrounded by people in the same situation as you all day and night. You have to seek people out with similar interests. Join a class, a young adult group, a moms group, a church group, a singles meetup, a community organization, a subcommittee at work. Being in close proximity to people who are into the same things as you takes out the awkward what do we have in common stage of getting to know someone. You already know you have something in common! It at least gives you something to talk about, whether that is a project you are working on together or a broader topic.

The internet is a beautiful thing. I joined a website - and there are a lot out there - which was essentially like Tinder for friendships. (Does Tinder have this? I'm a decade into a relationship so I don't know!) I know it sounds a little strange, but I actually ended up meeting up with and forming a friendship with a lady off of the website. We are five years in, and I would consider her one of my closest friends! There are meet up websites as well, so think outside of the box and give them a try. Note: be safe and use your best judgement. This website specifically verified you were a female, a real person vs. a bot, and lived locally.

Step outside of your comfort zone. Try new clubs or activities, go to an event where you have one trusted friend to fall back on, and meet up with that friend of a friend who lives in the same city as you. You really never know what will become of it. I have met people at parties through mutual friends, joined groups that neighbors are a part of, and connected with people on Facebook groups such as Blessed is She in person. Sometimes those have turned out to be great and I have continued to hang out with them, and other times I left knowing it wasn't going anywhere but feeling more confident in myself that I was able to get out and be a little more extroverted. It never hurts to practice!

It's all about your mindset. As a therapist I can tell you with utmost certainty that your thoughts are powerful. If you have negative, fearful thoughts, they will hold you back. The ultimate truth is not everyone you meet will like you, just as you do not necessarily like everyone you meet. I'm here to tell you that's okay. If everyone were the same, life would be boring. There are people out there who are meant to connect with you, who bring out the best in you, and can make you feel comfortable. Not everyone will be that for you, and you will not be that person for everyone. Go into situations hoping for the best with no expectations. Use your strengths to build your confidence. If you are introverted, chances are you are a good listener. If you are someone who is great at planning events, invite people over. If you are great at something work oriented find a need for that in the workplace such as a subcommittee or a club. Identify your strengths and use them to your advantage.

Most importantly, it takes time. It took about five years for me to feel like I have my foothold in this new space, and even then I am always growing and learning. Give yourself a little grace, it will take some time to adjust to this new chapter.

Hopefully this was helpful to you, and I wish you best of luck in your new city!