Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The 24 Day Challenge: Meal Prep

This post is part of my new series on the 24 Day Challenge by Advocare.  You can read the original post here: http://www.importancesampling.com/2014/10/the-24-day-challenge-before-i-start.html

It's possible that the part of the challenge I was most excited about was the meal planning and prep.  I enjoy the cooking process-- the planning, the list making, the grocery shopping, the slicing and dicing, the stirring and mixing, the flipping and tossing.  I like reading recipes, following food blogs, trying new ingredients, looking forward to a good meal.  I also like only having to cook once a week or so (leftovers are awesome!).  The great thing about this challenge is that meal prep is highly recommended.  

The Challenge has a recommended list of food items: proteins, veggies, complex carbs.  Ideally, meals should be portioned out with 5oz protein, 1/2 cup slightly-cooked veggies (or 2 cups greens or 1 cup raw veggies), and 1/2 cup complex carbohydrate.  Snacks of healthy fats (nuts, hummus, olive oil, avocado) and fruits (preferably low on the glycemic index, such as apples, berries, and bananas).  The Cleanse portion of the challenge has a few extra restrictions, specifically no dairy, no alcohol, and no coffee.  Between the portion suggestions and the restrictions, my programming mind was excited about the puzzle.  Surprisingly, after a few hours of looking through blogs, webpages, and Pinterest, I determined that a number of my normal recipes fit into the meal plan (with a few tweaks for the right proportions of protein/veggie/complex carb).  Being the nerd that I am, I created a Google doc that planned out the meals and separated out the various components of the cleanse. 

Organizing.  Because it's what I do best.

With the meal plan (and therefore a grocery list) in hand, I hit up the stores for supplies.  Knowing that the challenge had a number of mixed drinks (a fiber drink, meal replacement shakes, Spark), as well as just consuming plenty of water, I took the opportunity to invest in a Blender Bottle, which hasn't left my hand since.  

New bottle and new plastic containers in hand, I started cooking.  Per my meal plan, I made the following dishes:

Tofu Stirfry + Veggies with Quinoa
Crockpot Salsa Chicken
Salsa Brown Rice
Ginormous toss salad (romaine + spinach + zucchini + tomatoes + carrots + celery)
Roasted brussel sprouts
Roasted sweet potatoes
Egg white muffins with spinach, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes
Homemade hummus
Hardboiled eggs

I adjusted the ingredient proportions and came out with 6 servings of each of the main dishes (stirfry + quinoa + veggies, salsa chicken + salsa brown rice + salad, egg muffins + roasted sweet potatoes), as well as enough snacks to last the week.

I did most of the cooking Saturday evening and Sunday night, so by the time the Challenge started on Monday, I had a fridge full of meals, packed and ready to go. 

Bring on the Challenge!

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