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//4-Steps To Meal-Prep Made Simple//

I don't know about you but, when I hear the term "meal-prep" I get exhausted just thinking about it. I think it's the "prep" part of the term we tend to immediately think of WORK. Let me reintroduce this term in a way that will save you LOADS of time and make you think of fun instead!

The key here is to work smarter NOT harder. Think of meal-prep as a way to save you time during the week so you can have more time to spend with friends and family and have healthy, yummy food on hand when you're on the go. Here are some of my personal tips I use every week that has become very useful for me. Especially those weeks when I am super busy, but still able to eat a decent healthy meal. 1.) Plan your meals and snacks BEFORE you go shopping. Yes, I know what you may be thinking, "but, that's SO much work!" It can be if you don't do it right. I like to browse Pinterest or a recipe blog that gives me inspiration of what I like to eat. Some of my personal favorite recipe blogs are Dr. Axe, Tone It Up, Whole 30, or you can check out my Pinterest boards of healthy meals and snacks I have saved. These resources give you tons of healthy eating tips especially tailored to different eating lifestyles like gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian etc... Being the creative enthusiast that I am, I always have to switch up the recipe a bit to make it my own. Plus, it makes it more fun for me! So, you can use the recipe guidelines as inspiration or follow step-by-step. Just as long as you plan your shopping list ahead of time, it will make shopping easier, faster, and save you money from buying things you won't end up using. Extra Tip: I like to check the grocery store ad's ahead of time too, to see what's in season and on sale. This will also help you plan ahead! 2.) Next, when I come home from shopping, if I have time, I will rinse my fruits and veggies before I store them. You can choose at this time to cut everything and store in the fridge or freezer for later cooking assembly or you can pick a different day. For example, I would grocery shop on a Friday or Saturday and meal-prep on Sunday for the week. It's whatever works best for YOU and your schedule. Try to stick with whatever you choose. This way it will become a lifestyle habit and not a chore. 3.) The day you choose to meal-prep I suggest making all your snacks, juices, and breakfast for the week. This will help you during the week on your way out the door to work or on-the-go food for fuel. Next, I suggest cooking your proteins and grains or carbs for the week as well. If you can do this in big batches, it will save you more time during the week. For those types of meals, I will cook three days worth. Then have a "mini-prep" day in the middle of the week to keep my meals fresh and not in the fridge too long. 4.) Lastly, Have fun! Invite your friends, spouse, or kids to get in on the food-action with you. It's a great way to bond with those you love! But, if you like this time for you to be relaxing (like myself) you can listen to your favorite music, podcast or audio book while you "prep". Before you know it, you will be done and have a bunch of yummy food you can impress your friends and family or post an inspiring pic to your social media accounts.

Here are TWO of my favorite go-to's that are my staples for the week:

Chia Seed Pudding!!! Oh my gosh, I wish I could show you how many different recipes I've made of this over the years! You'd probably laugh out loud, literally! Mostly, it was trial and error. Also, I love to be creative and mix it up, so I don't get bored of what I'm eating. I've come up with two of my favorite recipes I'm going to share with you here (1 is a bonus)...wink face. I've discovered this little secret from a friend called, "powdered peanut butter." Have you heard of it? Basically, you mix it with water, creamer, milk, or anything really and it makes creamy peanut butter without all the fat you would find in traditional peanut butter. The best part is, it's healthy too! I use it as a secret ingredient in one of my recipes called, Healthy (Reese Cup) Chocolate & P.B. Chia Seed Pudding: 3 tbsp. chia seeds, 2 tbsp. powdered peanut butter, 2 tbsp. of cocoa powder, 1 tbsp of coconut creamer, 1 tsp. of honey or maple syrup, 1/3 cup of unsweetened vanilla coconut yogurt, 1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond or coconut milk. This serves 1 and I put this mixture in a mason jar. I usually make 4 at a time for myself. If you have more people in your family eating this with you, you can make as many as you like! I personally find they stay the freshest within 4-5 days.

My other favorite go-to staple is Egg Muffins. Not, an "English Muffin" the bread, but I make my eggs in a cupcake muffin tin! This is so easy and the recipe possibilities are endless! I usually make 12 egg muffins at a time, since you get 12 eggs in a carton at the store. I'll pre-heat my oven to 350 degrees, then grease my muffin pan with coconut oil. Next, I crack all 12 eggs in a large bowl, and any diced veggies you want. My favorites: 1 diced bell pepper, 1/2 can of diced tomatoes or 1/4 cup of salsa, 1-2 handfuls of spinach finely chopped, and a small handful of cilantro. I mix and match with the veggies I have in the fridge and don't always make it the same to give my taste buds something to look forward to each week! You can season with salt and pepper to taste and add 1/2 cup of milk, almond milk, plain yogurt, or kefir. This will give your a "fluffy" texture and help it rise in the oven. Once everything is mixed up, I'll pour the mixture into the top of each muffin cup. Lastly, you can bake your egg muffins in the oven for 15 to 12 minutes or until done. Voilà!

I hope these simple recipes might encourage you to give meal-prepping a try! If you try any of this recipes, or find a combo you like, I'd love to hear about it! Send me a message and maybe your personal recipe will be my next post...What are YOU cookin?

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