meal prep in 3 easy steps

I’m a planner.

I plan my evenings. I plan my weekends. I plan my mornings. And I definitely plan my meals.

When you plan and prep your meals in advance, it makes life easier, but it’s also really important if you are trying to eat healthier or lose weight. 

Depending on your life/work/school schedule, meal prep can go in a few directions. Because I eat breakfast and lunch at the office, I specifically plan out those meals and pack everything up in separate containers (or double up portions and leave at the office fridge). 

Step One: I start by planning the meals I want to make first. It might be a fun meal from pinterest or something I tore out of a magazine, or a recipe that I’m testing for my blog or other work. A lot of my meals during the week are really simple and I save the fun meals for the weekends when I have more time to actually enjoy the cooking process.

Step Two: After you’ve planned your meals, consult your pantry/fridge/freezer for the ingredients you already have, and make your list. Decide which ingredients it makes sense to buy cooked or cleaned ahead of time and which ingredients you’ll prepare from scratch.

Step Three: Cook! Set aside a few hours and prepare and pack up all of your meals (for me it is just breakfast + lunch) so they are ready to grab on your way out the door!

Enjoy!

Download infographic here. (Made using piktochart <– affiliate link)

turkey burgers with caper aioli

turkey burgers with caper aioli | a nutritionist eats

I’m not normally a turkey burger person. But this one, served with a bright aioli, is good. And it’s healthy. And it’s still January, so everyone wants “light/lean/skinny/healthy/paleo” recipes. So here we are. First a salad and now a turkey burger. Could I be anymore predictable? Sigh.

How did I – the self-proclaimed non-turkey burger fan – make a turkey burger? Well, towards the end of 2013, I bought three calendars. One was a standard daily calendar so I don’t forget important things, the second was the One-Sentence Journal (which I’m loving!) and the third was a Cooking Light Recipe Calendar that I keep at work so I can be surrounded by food inspiration everywhere I go!

So far, and we’re only a few weeks into 2014, I’ve made two recipes from the calendar, one of which inspired this burger. I must say, it’s been really fun to have a reminder to try out new recipes on a daily basis. And now I’ve made chicken and turkey burgers twice in a matter of weeks. WHAT?!

turkey burgers with caper aioli | a nutritionist eats

When I started thinking about this turkey burger, I knew I wanted it healthy (light), so I kept the ingredients simple and used shallots and capers to pack the burger with flavor without adding many calories. The aioli is the perfect topping, and in my opinion, necessary for a “lean” burger. Bonus: when you use light mayonnaise – it barely adds any calories!

Another bonus? These turkey burgers have great nutrition stats: 260 calories, 15 grams fat, 3.8 grams carbohydrates and 28 grams protein. (Nutrition stats are for one turkey burger + aioli.)

Serve on a bun with lettuce and tomato or use a bibb lettuce leaf instead of the bun for a gluten-free/paleo/low-carb meal.

Turkey Burger with Caper Aioli

by Emily Dingmann

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Keywords: grill entree turkey

 

Ingredients (4 servings)

    For the Aioli

    • 4 Tbsp light mayonnaise
    • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 Tbsp capers, chopped
    • 1 clove crushed garlic
    • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
    • salt & pepper

    For the Burgers

    • 20 oz lean (93%) ground turkey
    • 1/4 cup chopped shallot (about 1 small shallot)
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 Tbsp capers, chopped
    • salt & pepper
    • optional: hamburger buns, lettuce, tomato

    Instructions

    For the Aioli

    Combine all ingredients in small bowl.

    Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

    For the Burgers

    Combine all ingredients and mix until just combined.

    Form into four burgers.

    Heat grill or pan over medium heat.

    Cook for about five minutes per side, or until cooked through.

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    lentil, beet & goat cheese salad

    I’ve been making great little “bento box” lunches lately. It’s worth mentioning that I don’t have a real bento box. It’s a gladware plastic container.

    But it serves the same purpose and I’m kind of obsessed with these lunches. The biggest portion is reserved for vegetables – usually grape tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers or green beans; the small portion is for seaweed salad (I know, such a random Costco purchase); and the medium is for a lentil salad. And then I’ll add a chicken sausage or hard-boiled eggs on the side. Sometimes I keep it simple and toss the lentils with green onions, an easy dressing and some quinoa. And sometimes things get a little fancier.

    Like beets, goat cheese and shallots fancier. I can’t take the credit for the idea, it came from a cafe near my office (clementine) but it is a delicious mix of slightly sweet + savory. In this particular lentil salad, beets are diced as finely as possible and tossed with lentils, shallots, goat cheese and a mustardy vinaigrette.

    Side note: lentils are my favorite bean of all time. Please say you love them as much as I do!

    This salad makes the perfect side dish (and could totally work as a main salad too) for lunches or dinners and if you buy pre-cooked lentils and beets, it comes together quickly! Because I tend to make rather involved packed lunches, I usually take any shortcuts I can get. I hope you enjoy this salad as much as we have!

    Lentil, Beet & Goat Cheese Salad

    by Emily Dingmann

    Prep Time: 15 minutes

    Keywords: salad side gluten-free high fiber high protein kosher vegetarian beans cheese fall

     

    Ingredients (4-6 servings)

    • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
    • salt & pepper
    • 16 oz (about 3 cups) cooked lentils
    • 8 oz (about 1 1/2 cups) beets, diced as small as possible
    • 4 oz goat cheese
    • optional: sliced green onion for garnish

    Instructions

    Soak sliced shallots in cold water for at least 10 minutes. (To make them a little less potent.)

    Whisk together apple cider vinegar, olive oil, mustard and salt & pepper. Toss with salad.

    Toss together with remaining ingredients.

    Top with crumbled goat cheese and garnish with green onion.

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    seven simple ideas for chicken dinners

    Chicken tends to be the classic weekday meal.

    It also tends to have a reputation for being boring.

    But it can make a great dinner – most of us can agree on that, right?

    We always have some organic chicken thighs (Costco!) in the freezer for weeknight meals, but chicken on a regular basis requires some creativity!

    Here are my top seven ways (with ideas and recipes for each) to make chicken for dinner!

    Stir-Fry: frozen vegetables + bottled sauce | thai ginger | saucy coconut

    On/In a Salad: caesar | fall chicken salad | tomato + avocado

    Cheater Chicken Parmesan: top cooked chicken breast with marinara sauce and a slice of mozzarella; broil until golden brown

    Coated with Crumbs: panko | italian breadcrumbs | almond meal

    Slow-Cooker: bbq sauce | tikka masala | asian chicken

    Grilled: citrus | yakitori | mediterranean kebabs

    Mexican: fajitas | tacos | slow-cooker chicken mole

    Anything to add to the list?