How to Meal Prep Like a Pro: Irish Week

You could say that Irish food is in my blood, because it is.  My great grandparents met on the boat to America and my grandmother’s Irish cooking has stuck with me years after she left us.

I love everything Ireland and always celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a week of Irish cooking.  It’s no secret that this week’s themed menu is Irish!

Before I get to the meal prep, let me give you some tips on dinners.  Irish food doesn’t have to be unhealthy.  There are a lot of options to sub the otherwise carby, saucy food for healthier options.  

I’m not sure how happy my grandmother would be with me turning her delicious recipes healthy but it’s a different time, grandma.  For example, instead of potatoes with my bangers and mash, I used this recipe and made cauliflower rice: 

While Grandma White made THE best cabbage roll, or pigs in a blanket as she called them, I stick to this easy cabbage roll casserole recipe:  

I don’t think she’s too angry with my modern twists, because at the end of the day, I always know to use good beer with my roasts.  Guiness all the way, baby.

Now that I’ve given you 3 yummy dinner options, let’s jump into our breakfast and lunch meal prep.

Menu

Breakfast

  • Corned Beef Hash

Lunch

  • Meat of your choice and Pub Salad
  • Healthier Reuben Wraps

Shopping List

  1. 6 lbs or larger Corned Beef
  2. Low Carb Tortilla Wraps
  3. Bib lettuce
  4. Red cabbage
  5. White shredded cabbage
  6. 1 Sliced Cucumber
  7. 1 ½ lbs Potatoes
  8. 3 Small Onions
  9. 4 Garlic Cloves
  10. 1 Block Cheddar Cheese
  11. 4 eggs
  12. Healthy mayo (made with avocado or olive oil)
  13. Tomato Paste
  14. Pickles
  15. Spicy Brown Mustard
  16. Apple Cider vinegar
  17. 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  18. Olive Oil
  19. Dijon Mustard
  20. 2 tbsp Tarragon
  21. 2 tbsp Thyme
  22. 2 Guiness Beers

1/4 tsp of the following spices

  1. Basil
  2. Oregano
  3. Paprika
  4. Salt & Pepper

Recipes

First you have to cook the corned beef.  Here is the recipe I used and you can let it go in the crockpot while you make everything else.  Once it’s done take out 4 cups (2 for ruebens and 2 for breakfast) and eat the rest for dinner that night!

Corned Beef in the Crock Pot

Combine the following ingredients in the crock pot

*If you have a small crock pot, scale potatoes, cabbage and carrots

  • 5-6 pounds Corned beef brisket
  • 5 Carrots, sliced
  • 1 lb Potatoes, cut in chunks
  • ½ head cabbage, cut in pieces
  • 1 Yellow onion, sliced

Stir together the following ingredients and then pour over meat and veggies.

  • 5 tbsp Brown Mustard
  • 1 cup Sour cream
  • 2 8-ounce beers
  • 1 ½  Tbsp. Thyme

Cook on high 4 hours or best at low 8 hours

Don’t forget to save 3 cups for sliced or diced corned beef!

 

Reubens:

Let me start by saying, ruebens are not very healthy!  I used a version of homemade sauerkraut and homemade thousand island dressing to make this a healthy lunch option.  If you’ve never had a reuben before, don’t even think that this healthy recipe comes close to the real thing.  I’m just trying to keep us healthy here!  

Prepare the dressing:

Combine the following ingredients in a small container to store:

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup clean mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped pickles

Prepare the “sauerkraut”

Combine the following ingredients in a medium tupperware container

  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayo
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard

Assemble the reuben wraps by placing a tortilla flat on the plate.  Smother with thousand island dressing.  Add sauerkraut then your corned beef.  Wrap it up and enjoy!

 

Prepare the Pub Salad:

You will have a lot of leftover meat this week so if you’re like me, you’ll want to make sure that doesn’t go to waste.  Pair the beef roast or cabbage roll casserole with an Irish Pub Salad twice this week for a hearty lunch.

 

Prepare dressing for salad:

Combine all of the following ingredients in a salad dressing mixing container

  • 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons water

Mix well and store.

I always wash, slice and store the salad ingredients to make my week easier.  In this case:

  • Wash the lettuce
  • Slice the cucumber and onion
  • Cube the cheese
  • Hard boil 4 eggs

When you’re ready to eat the salad combine Bibb lettuce with shredded cabbage and top with cucumber, 1 egg, onion, and cubes of cheddar cheese.  Drizzle tarragon dressing.

 

Breakfast hash

  1. Slice the 1 onion, mince 1 garlic clove, dice 2 cups corned beef and 2 cups potatoes.
  2. Melt 2 tbsp olive oil in skillet. Then saute the onion and garlic. Add the potatoes to the skillet and cook until lightly browned. Season with ¼ tsp thyme, ¼ tsp oregano, ¼ tsp basil, ¼ tsp paprika, ¼ tsp salt and pepper. Stir in the corned beef and cook for 5 minutes.1/4 tsp Basil

 

By the end of this meal prep you will have breakfast for every day of the week, enough for 3 reuben wraps and 3 Pub Salads (don’t forget to add leftover meat).   

Remember the bangers and cauliflower mash AND the beef stew AND the cabbage roll casserole ingredients aren’t listed here.  If you want to make those dinners this week, make sure you visit the Pintrest recipe and add it to your list. https://www.pinterest.com/expertlyflawed/week-4-themed-meal-prep/

 

I had an amazing St. Patrick’s Day thanks to some great friends, and some delicious Irish food!  What did you do for St. Patti’s Day?  Add your comments below.

Next week is an All American menu…

 

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3 Reasons You Should Start Meal Prepping Today

This week’s Themed Meal Prep is Italian food.  I scoured the pages of Pintrest for recipes that are healthy (low in calories, carbs, and fat) and put together a complete weekly meal plan for you below.  If you’re not familiar with meal prepping, or have been resistant to try it, here are three reasons why you must start with this plan TODAY!

Believe it or not, there are still people who don’t think food prepping is a good idea.  The reasons usually include:

  1. I don’t have time
  2. I don’t have money
  3. I don’t want to eat the same thing again and again.

If you’re among them, I’ve solved these three issues with my Themed Meal Prep, giving you absolutely no reason not to prepare clean, healthy, delicious meals for yourself every week.

  1. You’re not too busy to meal prep!  You’re too busy NOT to meal prep.

We are no longer scavengers, we don’t have to hunt and gather for every meal.  So, why are you making it so hard on yourself when it comes to eating 3 well rounded meals per day?  Meal prepping using my shopping list and recipes are so easy and most menus take less than 2 hours in your kitchen.  Less than 2 hours and an entire week’s worth of breakfast and lunches are done.  Most times, even that night’s dinner will be ready to feed your hungry family.

2.  If you have the money for Starbucks, or Chick-fil-a, or Ruby Tuesdays, then you have money to meal prep.

I get it, clean, healthy foods can be expensive.  There usually aren’t coupons for produce and meats, but I’ve found a way to cut my grocery bill in half.  I’ve done this by making the menus culturally themed.  One week it’s Greek, the next Italian, etc. etc.  Making the menus themed cuts down on the ingredients because you’re using the same ones in different ways.  Genius!  Most of my shopping lists contain less than 20 items, any many will already be in your cabinets allowing you to buy even less.

3.  If you’re bored with your meal prep, you’re not doing it right.

Since my menus are culturally themed, the ingredient list is small and the variety is BIG!  You’ll love the variety of foods and never get bored eating the same thing every day.  Some days I have a salad, some days a rice bowl, some days a wrap.  There are a ton of options!  The best part about Themed Meal Prep is, just when you’ve had enough, the week changes to another themed set of meals.

We all know what happens when we don’t prepare for lunch; we skip it, or end up eating crap. Treat yourself and go out once a week but don’t get frustrated wondering what you’re going to do everyday.  Okay, let’s get cookin’!

MENU

Breakfast:  

  • Frittata Muffins

Lunch:

  • Tuscan Tortillini
  • AntiPasta Salad
  • Caprese with Pork

SHOPPING LIST

  1. 1lb salami (cut 3-4 times at deli counter)
  2. 1 package pepperoni
  3. 1 package spinach
  4. 1 package of romaine
  5. ½ cup red onion
  6. 1 red and 1 green pepper
  7. 1 Lemon
  8. 2 containers sliced grape olives
  9. Jar of Sundried tomatoes in oil
  10. Jar of Artichokes in oil
  11. Small jar of pesto
  12. Small can black olives (sliced)
  13. Small jar green olives (sliced)
  14. Package Cheese Tortellini (I buy whole wheat)
  15. Parmesan Cheese
  16. 6-8 oz mozzarella balls
  17. Eggs
  18. Milk
  19. Olive Oil
  20. Balsamic Vinegar

*Optional:  Peperoncini peppers and pine nuts for antipasta salad

RECIPES

This is so easy it’s going to blow your mind!  You only have to cook one of the three lunch recipes this week!

How to Make the Tortellini Lunch:

2 lunch servings

  1. Boil tortellini according to package directions – Set aside.
  2. Add ¼ cup olive oil to skillet, saute ⅓ cup red onion and a minced garlic clove
  3. Add ½ cup sliced sun dried tomatoes, 1 cup spinach, and tortellini
  4. Salt and Pepper as needed
  5. Store in two containers for lunches

 

How to Make the Anti Pasta Salad

4 lunch servings

Combine the following ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 2 heads diced Romaine lettuce
  • 1/3 red onion sliced thin
  • ¼ cup small can black olives
  • ¼ cup green olives
  • ½ package pepperoni
  • ½  deli salami sliced
  • Full jar of artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
  • 1/2 container of grape tomatoes
  • *Optional: Toasted pine nuts and peppercini peppers

Divide between 4 containers and store for lunches.

 

How to Make the Caprese Salad

4 Servings

Prepare the Caprese Salad by combining the following ingredients:

  • ½ bag spinach
  • 1 crate halved cherry tomatoes
  • Package of mozzarella balls
  • 2tbsp Pesto
  • 4tsbp Olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt Pepper

I stored this in a container and ate it with leftovers from the week.

I made some delicious dinners this week; Veggie lasagna, chicken bruschetta, and Italian pork in the crock pot.  If you’re interested in seeing those recipes, check out my Pintrest board:  https://www.pinterest.com/expertlyflawed/week-3-themed-meal-prep/

Finally, to prepare the breakfast muffins follow this recipe:

  1. Dice green pepper, red pepper, and red onion – Add 1 cup shredded spinach
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray (spray well).
  4. In a large bowl, beat 10 eggs and add diced ingredients above.
  5. Sprinkle in cheese of your choice (I used shredded mozzerella)
  6. Scoop 1/3 cup of mixture into each compartment.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until the center of the muffin is completely cooked.

So easy and so good!  Next week is St. Patrick’s Day so guess what my themed menu will be?  Irish food!  This Irish girl can’t wait!  See you next week…

I’m sorry for the lack of pictures this week.  I lost everything on my memory card while recording my daughter’s chorus concert (priorities)!  I’d love to see your pictures though.  Please post your Italian Meal Prep pics below.  Happy, healthy cooking!


 

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How to Meal Prep Like a Pro: Greek

Do you find yourself staring into a full refrigerator wondering why there’s nothing inside you want to eat?  My kids do it all the time so I’ve made sure to stock “their shelf” with plenty of healthy snacks they can grab and go.  Moms often forget to do this for themselves.  I’ve found a meal plan that keeps the guess work out of what to eat and only takes a couple hours to prep for the entire week of meals!

I love Themed Meal Prep because my menu changes each week and the ingredients are generally the same which saves me time and money.  Each week I choose a theme, search healthy recipes on Pintrest and then prep on Sunday so I’m worry free for the week.

My Pintrest Board for this week

 

Last week, we focused on Asian food which included lots of nuts, soy sauce (or healthier aminos) and garlic.  This week, garlic is about the only similarity as we spice it up with greek food.  A mediterranean diet is especially healthy because of the oils and ingredients like artichokes, olives, and cucumbers.   While I’m not including my dinner recipes here, I made an awesome mediterranean baked chicken that you have to try!

 

Step One:  Put the chicken nugget down and pick your menu theme (Italian, Asian, etc).  My Greek themed menu is outlined for you below.  Just screen shot the grocery list and go buy the simple ingredients.

Grocery List

  • 2lbs chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • Minced Garlic (4 heads)
  • 4 lemons
  • Oregano
  • 6 cucumbers (peeled and sliced)
  • brown rice
  • container of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • feta cheese
  • kalamata olives
  • s&p

Step Two:  Get Cookin’

Once you’re home, start marinating the chicken immediately!  These recipes require the chicken to be in the fridge for at least an hour, longer if possible.  Mix up the chicken as stated below:

  1. In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 tbsp garlic, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp oregano, 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt and salt and pepper.  Mix well
  2. After mixing, remove 1/4 cup for the salad dressing and place in fridge for later
  3. Add the restof the marinade to a large storage bag and add 2 lbs chicken.
  4. Massage to make sure chicken is fully covered.  Marinate in fridge for at least one hour.

While chicken is marinating, prepare the Tzatziki sauce: 

  1. Mix the following ingredients in a storage container.  1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 diced cucumber, 1 Tbs minced garlic, 1/2 Tbs dill, 1 Tbs lemon juice, 1 tsp lemon zest, S&P to taste
  2. Once fully combined, place in fridge.  This go toward both the bowl and the salad.

After preparing the Tzatziki, prepare the salads

  1. Greek Bowl:  Mix the following ingredients together in a storage container:  2 cubed cucumbers, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 2 Tbs olive oil, 1 Tbs red wine vinegar, 1/2 Tbs minced garlic, 1/2 tsp dried oregano – Store in the fridge until ready to eat
  2. Salad Mix:  Mix together  romaine lettuce, 3 cubed cucumbers,  8 oz cherry tomatoes, 1 sliced green pepper, ½ sliced red onion, Feta cheese, 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives.  Store in a container until ready to eat.

Cook the brown rice according to the package

Cook the chicken

  1. Remove the chicken from the fridge and drain the  marinade from it. Discard.
  2. Heat some olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add chicken. Cook approximately 5-6 minutes per side. Cooking time depends on thickness and size of the chicken.
  4. Let it cool and then cut into bite sized pieces

At this point, everything should be stored in separate containers:

  • One chicken container
  • One brown rice container
  • One with greek salad
  • One with cucumber salad
  • One with tzatziki
  • Small container of salad dressing from marinade

Then, when you’re ready to eat:

Assemble Salad:  Place desired amount of salad on plate, mix with desired amount of chicken and salad dressing.  You may add tzatziki sauce if you want.

Assemble Bowls:  There’s a trick to these… heat up the brown rice and chicken before placing the rest of the ingredients inside your bowl.  After heating the chicken and rice for a minute or so, add cucumber salad and tzatziki.

*Follow serving sizes that are appropriate for your weight goals.

This should make about 6 lunches for your week.  I made 3 bowls and 3 salads so I didn’t get bored.  The awesome thing about a Themed Meal Plan is just when you do get bored, another awesome menu, with completely different ingredients is coming next week.

Finally, as promised from last week, I said I’d share my breakfast prep with you as well.  This recipe was awesome so if you’re worried about putting eggs in a crock pot, don’t!  The Greek flavors make this healthy egg white recipe delish!  Add it to your grocery list and mix it up in your crockpot while your prepping the lunches to have 12 meals done in under 2 hours!

 

If you would like to see how I assembled my bowls, or hear me talk about this week’s Themed Meal Prep, here’s a link to my youtube channel for the episode connected to this post.

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How to Meal Prep Like a Pro: Asian


Each week I’m tasked with finding lunches and dinners that aren’t going to make me run to the closest fast food restaurant for an easy meal.  I’m not the type of person who can eat salads every day, but I do need to eat healthy meals or I guilt myself like crazy.  Am I alone in this?

I found a solution that saves me time and money when it comes to lunches.  I call it (drumroll, please) Themed Meal Prep.  Themed Meal Prep gives me a variety of food options while using the same ingredients to cut down on cost and time in the kitchen.  If you’re like me, and want to eat healthy but get bored easily, you’ve got to start this meal prep plan today!

Step One:  Choose a type of food you like: Italian, Greek, Asian, etc. and stick to it for the week.

Once I find a theme, I like to search for my recipes on Pintrest.  For my first week of Themed Meal Prep, I choose an Asian menu.  All I did was search Asian Recipes on Pintrest and started pinning.

 

Step Two:  Make a list and go shopping!

After I’ve pinned recipes I like, I make a list for the grocery store.  Of course, you’re not going to cook everything on your board.  I usually pick two recipes for lunch and one for dinner that have similar ingredients.  With themed meal planning you’ll notice most of them have similar ingredients so this should be easy!  This week I choose an Asian chopped salad and a Thai wrap that will come from a peanut chicken recipe I’ll make for dinner.   The ingredients listed below are for 3 recipes and will make an entire dinner for my family of 5, as well as ALL 5 lunches for my week.

Grocery List

  • 9 chicken breasts
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bunch of Green onions 
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • Carrots
  • Red pepper & chili pepper
  • Cabbage (or 2 bags slaw mix)
  • 2 Limes (4 tblsp)
  • 1 papaya
  • 3/4 cup Peanuts
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • Gluten Free Tortillas
  • 8 tbsp Soy Sauce (or coconut aminos)
  • Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  • Sesame Oil
  • White vinegar
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

Step 3:  Get Cookin’

Reduce your prep time by doing one simple thing, make all the chicken according to the dinner recipe and then divide for your lunches.   Once you do that, you just mix up some dressings and chop some veggies.  Here’s a sample of how I prepped for my Asian themed week.

Dinner:

*You will need to make 2 batches of chicken using the recipe below (unless you have a huge skillet that will fit all 9 pieces of chicken and double the sauce).  Each batch takes about 20 minutes to cook and once finished, you’re done with the stove!

  1. Brown the chicken in a large skillet on medium high heat using 1 tbsp oil.  5-10 minutes on each side.
  2. Reduce heat.  Add 1 sliced red pepper and 3 cloves of minced garlic to the skillet.  Sautee for 5 minutes – If garlic starts to brown, turn down heat.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, 1/3 cup peanut butter, 3 tbsp soy sauce and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Pour sauce into skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low.
  5. Let simmer, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle green onions over top and save for lunches
  7. Repeat for your yummy dinner.

To Prep Your Salad:

  1. Take 2 chicken breasts from the peanut chicken recipe and add to large tupperware container
  2. Add rest of cabbage mix (about a bag and a half), shave 1 large carrot into container, add small chunks of one papaya, 1/2 cup cilantro, 1/2 cup, green onions
  3. *NOTE!  This is a double batch because you will use this for your wrap as well!  Also, make the dressing in a separate container for storage (otherwise your salad will only store for a day).
  4. Whisk together 4 tbsp soy sauce or aminos, 2 tbsp lime juice, 4 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp sesame oil, 4 cloves minced garlic and 1 tsp red pepper flakes. Add 1 cup peanut butter (and drops of water as needed).  Whisk until smooth.
  5. Store until ready to eat.  When ready, pour desired amount of dressing over the top of the salad and top with some crushed peanuts.

To Prep Your Wrap:

  1. Take 2 chicken breasts from prepared peanut chicken recipe
  2. Add 1/2 cups cabbage slaw, 3 tbsp green onions, 3 tbsp cilantro and 3 tbsp peanuts to large bowl and toss.
  3. When ready to eat, add chicken and slaw to tortilla.  Drizzle prepared salad dressing over the top and enjoy!

 

Total prep time on Sunday is about 2 hours, but that meant countless hours of free time and less worry on my weekdays.  Not to mention, I’m eating healthy meals and I’m not getting tired of them.  Next week, it’s on to Greek/Mediterranean!

Want to be a rockstar?  Check out my Themed Meal Prep Menu next week which includes breakfast!  Another meal to check off your weekly worry list.

Let me know what you think about my Themed Meal Prep, especially if you’ve tried it!  If you have any ideas for themes, I’d love to hear them!  Be sure to comment below 🙂


 

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Delicious Asian Menu: Wellness Diary Week 1

Valentine’s week was a little nuts for us.  Not because of the sweets, but because of the hustle.  We hustled to get ready for our camping trip.  We hustled to get Valentine’s and treats for school. We had an unusual weekday soccer game and tournament.  We were just in constant hustle mode.  Coming off a crazy week, I hoped for a little reprieve, then life happened, again.

To help make my week successful, I meal prepped on Sunday.  I even invited my mom and mother-in-law over to get in on the fun.  My mom declined, which is another blog post all together, but my mother-in-law came over bags of groceries in tow.  I gave her a list that included everything she needed to bring over for the recipes.  The menu was based on Asian inspired recipes for lunch and dinner, and a few items for breakfast and snacks.

An Asian diet has many benefits.  Since it’s packed with vegetables and light protein portions of chicken and fish, it is a heart healthy option.  The diet follows the Asian Diet Pyramid  which includes balanced portions of protein, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds, etc.  Spices used in Asian food such as, turmeric and cumin, have shown to decrease obesity in people who use them regularly. The oils in place of butter also makes this a healthy option.

My greatest diet flaw is that I get bored and therefore, need a lot of meal options.  Options can be time consuming when preparing various foods at once, or if you don’t prep, it can leave you wondering what to put on your plate when scavenging through your cabinets.  So, my idea was to have healthy lunches and dinners based on a new theme each week.  This week’s Asian theme incorporated many of the same ingredients, keeping my grocery bill low and eliminated confusion in the kitchen.  My favorite was the Thai peanut chicken that I used in just about every recipe last week.

There was just one problem, LIFE.  When the mom guilt set in and my kids begged me to have lunch with them at school, I stopped and bought us all Chick-fil-a.  When I skipped the gym last week and my gym partner got lonely, I showed up to our lunch date fully showered, while she sat in wet gym clothes.  When my family and I went to yoga and passed our favorite ice cream shop on the way home, we stopped for a homemade waffle cone.  When the week got the best of me, I opted for pizza and beer on Saturday night, and Bloody Mary’s on Sunday.

I could sit around and count my flaws like calories, but that will only make me feel worse about myself.  Why do we beat ourselves up instead of celebrating our accomplishments?  I made home cooked meals for my family 5 days in a row.  I ate most of the delicious meals I prepared for myself.  More importantly, I spent a lot of quality time with my kids and volunteered at Special Olympics.  I did things greater than my tiny flaws.  
This week’s diet and exercise flaws resulted in smiling, ice cream eating kids and a happy Saturday night date who toasted me over a veggie pizza.  Cheers to flaws!

Click here to see the complete menu and shopping list?

http://expertlyflawed.com/2017/03/meal-prep-like-pro-asian/

 

Get all the recipes I used this week on my Pintrest Board:

 

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