Week 22 Meal Plan

Don’t forget to check out the current week’s meal plan here! The plan below is an archive from last week’s meal plan. Looking for inspiration for your meals this week? Be sure to take a look at the meal plans from previous weeks in the blog.

First long weekend of the summer is done and looking forward to a summer of fun, food, family and friends. This week focuses on grilled meals and outdoor eating before the heaat of the weekend.

Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Cups from Geoffrey Zakarian and the Food Network.

Spicy Bacon Fried Rice from What’s Gaby Cooking. This is back on the rotation from a few weeks ago – so good, and great for a rainy day and clearing out the fridge.

Grilled Corn Pizza. Can’t seem to get enough of this fresh and easy grilled pizza. Fresh corn is a bonus for this week’s rendition.

Grilled Chicken Kebobs from What’s Gaby Cooking. Always a family favorite on the table. And, keeping the heat outside as the temps creep into the 90s

Grilled “Everything but the Bagel Seasoning” Salmon skewers. No marinade, minimal mess – just pieces of salmon perfectlyl seasoned and grilled a few minutes on each side.

Pool Day – TBD what we’ll put on the table after we cool off from the heat.

Tomato Toast
Eggs with Everything Bagel Seasoning


Don’t Let Your Summer Produce Go To Waste!

Who else out there loves a good Farmers Market shopping spree? I am mesmerized by ALL of the fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, etc. and then I bring home the bags and bags of colorful foods….and wonder how I am going to enjoy it all….before the next week’s haul, or before it all goes bad.

So, like all other things, I have found creative ways to use some of the produce I purchase often, and NO, I don’t change how much or what I buy, even though that might be the most logical thing to do! Take a look at my recommendations and ideas below – give them a try and let me know how it works for you.

I’m not talking the long process with special equipment and boiling water with glass jars and such. I envy those who have mastered that and took the time to perfect their process – but I’m a “quick-pickle” kind of food person. Luckily, I’ve found a few others around food blog world that have the same inclination as me, and have great recipes and processes to follow. It prolongs some of the produce for weeks or months, AND, as an extra bonus, the homemade version of pickled vegetables are crisper, fresher and are customizable to your tastes!

Whether it’s cucumbers, artichokes, onions, okra, carrots, mini peppers, or any other vegetable you prefer pickled, the method is similar and takes no time at all to make. The only things you need are white vinegar, dill, garlic, peppercorns and the preferred vegetable; and then usual household ingredients such as water, salt and white sugar/sweetener.

Try a couple of these recipes below:

Chia Jams
Fresh berries, stone fruit, melons, even tomatoes are amazing when they are turned into jam….after you enjoy all of them fresh first, of course! Making chia jam, once again, takes out the hours of labor to make a simple product, with another bonus of adding healthy protein, Omega-3s and more when using chia seeds.

Each batch only uses a couple of ingredients, and require minimal prep for the fridge. It will prolong the time you can enjoy these farmers market finds, provides a lower sugar, healthier result and it makes great gifts for family and friends. Imagine being invited to a last minute backyard party, and you have jars of jam to choose from and give as a hostess gift, or bring along with an appetizer – think brie, crackers and jam…

There are many recipes for chia jam, depending on the types of fruit you use or have on hand. Try one of these for a fresh and different flavor for your toast tomorrow morning:

Fruit Popsicles
Custom, no-added-sugar summer treats are the best. And, the flavor combinations are truly endless. There are so many recipes out there – but the base recipe I’ve always compiled is below to make 10 popsicles.

Need a popsicle mold? There are hundreds of options, but this is the one I’ve used for years and it’s easy to fill, clean and use again.

Base Popsicle Recipe:

  • 2c fresh fruit, cut into small pieces
  • 1T lemon juice
  • 1T Agave syrup

Blend ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth. Pour into a smaller measuring cup, or you can use this set which helps with the layering process, if you’d like to mix a few flavors together. Add 2-2.25oz of puree into each mold and freeze for 45 minutes. After 45m minutes, add the popsicle sticks and freeze for 6-8 hours until frozen (or up to overnight). Once frozen, run mold under warm water for a few seconds to release popsicles. I then freeze them on a parchment lined 9×13 cookie sheet until frozen again. After that, I wrap in wax or parchment paper and place in a freezer container or zipper bag for long term storage. It helps to label the container with the type of fruit(s) and date made (I recommend keeping for up to 6 months). This helps when making multiple different batches as the summer goes on, and allows for more variety when offering family, friends, or yourself a frozen treat when the sun is shining!

We’ll talk about more options for using fresh summer produce in the coming weeks and months, but I hope this gets you started as the farmers markets are opening up and all the stores are bursting with new items to try! Let me know which recipes and processes you try and how they turn out! Have something for us to try? Share below in the comments.

Enjoy the weekend and all that summer is starting to offer.


10 Favorite Summer Smoothies

Summer weather inspires vibrantly colorful meals and an inclination to snack on fresh fruit and vegetables instead of chips and cookies (most of the time!). How do I use all of the produce I buy at the store or farmer’s market, and inevitably can’t finish just by adding it as a side to meals and midday snacks? I make smoothies for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks and even dessert sometimes!

Here are my top tips for smoothie success, and later, my favorite recipes when I have a few extra minutes in the day. My favorite smoothie? Anything with raspberries and chia seeds…my go-to fruit and add-in every single time!

Tips and Prep:

  • If you only have fresh fruit on hand, just add ice to the smoothie – it will mimic using frozen fruit
  • If you have fresh fruit that is starting to go bad, cut it up into 1″ dice and freeze for 30-60 minutes on a parchment lined sheet pan. Once frozen, store each fruit in freezer bags or containers, marked with the month/year and type of fruit.
    • If you prefer a specific blend of fruit, feel free to make your own frozen fruit blend in your freezer bags
    • If you want to speed up your smoothie prep and have a specific recipe you follow, just freeze all ingredients, except for the liquid in a bag in the freezer.
  • Add ingredients to the blender with the lightest items in the bottom, with the heavier items on top – such as: milk, spinach, seeds/nuts, frozen fruit, any other add-ins.
    • If you are making smoothie packs to freeze, add ingredients in reverse order, heavy items at bottom of pack and lightest ingredients on top
  • Powerful Blenders are essential to making smoothies. If you are able, use a Vitamix or similar. If your blender is not as strong, you may need a bit more liquid for everything to blend up without too many tears! I use this one.
  • Use reusable smoothie straws – I recommend these smoothie straws!
  • Insulated tumblers with lids – great for working at home or taking smoothies on the go. I recommend these tumblers!
  • Smoothie ingredients – see suggested shopping list/pantry list below

Suggested Shopping / On-Hand List:

  • Unsweetened Frozen fruit (home frozen, or from the store) –
    Make sure, if you’re purchasing a bag of frozen fruit, that it is only the fruit, no added sweeteners or ingredients
  • Dairy or non-Dairy milk of choice
    I find that Unsweetened Almond Milk works best
  • Baby Spinach or Chopped Kale (fresh or frozen) –
    You can purchase the large containers/bags of spinach or kale and divide them into individual portions
  • Protein source
    • Protein powder of choice
    • Homemade mixture of flaxmeal, chia seeds and hemp hearts (1:1:1 ratio) – I purchase in bulk, and make in batches as needed. Just store in freezer for longest/maximum freshness
  • Optional Add-Ins
    • Nut butters
    • Agave Nectar (most needed if fruit isn’t in-season or frozen fruit is bitter)
    • Raw Nuts: Cashews, Pistachios, Walnuts
    • Seeds: Sunflower, Pumpkin
    • Pitted dates

Recipe Recommendations:

If I’m in a hurry or don’t have the energy to make a specific recipe, I follow the below ingredient ratios – and sometimes they become part of the weekly rotation!

  • 1c Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1c Fresh or Frozen Baby Spinach
  • 1c Frozen Fruit
  • 1/2c Fresh Fruit (optional)
  • 1T blend of Flax meal, Chia seeds and Hemp hearts
  • 1T Almond Butter (depends on fruit combination)

Blend for 1-2 minutes and pour into glass, serve immediately.

Enjoy a morning smoothie on your pre-work walk, or sitting outside during your midday conference call or on the sports field while your kids are playing their 10th game of the week. Know that you’re fueling your body with nutrients and gaining energy.

Tell me what smoothies are your favorite in the comments and let me know what you think if you try any of the recipes/combinations above! As always, I’m here to help with any recipe ideas, food prep and meal planning – don’t hesitate to reach out!


Week 21 Meal Plan

Pool is up and running, just in time for the early season hot temps. Sunshine, grills and water are my summer plans, how about you? See my Week 21 meal plan below with all of the Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for my in the moment results, adjustments and ideas!

Fork and Knife Salad – after a weekend of house guests and BBQs, I need a simple, fresh, and minimal prep dinner. Knife and Fork Salads are hearty, tons of add-ins and large lettuce leaves. Sit down with your platter of vegetables, some of that double-batch vinaigrette you made during your large prep day and maybe a leftover piece of grilled chicken from the weekend and dinner is done.

Quinoa, Corn and Avocado Salad from What’s Gaby Cooking. Late evening work presentation/meeting means I need to have dinner ready or when I arrive back home. This make-ahead salad/bowl is always so refreshing and a meal that is summer comfort food.

Grilled Corn Pizza. Can’t seem to get enough of this fresh and easy grilled pizza. Fresh corn is a bonus for this week’s rendition.

Chicken Sandwiches with Gojuchang Sauce from Jeff Mauro and the Food Network. I’ve been waiting or weeks to make this recipe, but it’s for the cold weather nights, not the ones on the grill! So, I think today will be the day. All the random ingrediens have arrived from y online searches, so I am set.

Spaghetti Night. I’m leaviing this one up to the crew for what kind of paste and sauce we have, so stay tuned! It’s a real test of my need to be in command of our meals!

Backyard BBQ Potluck – check my Instagram feed for what everyone brings to the party!

Family Party for some of my family that will be in town – we’ll be making grilled chicke nand some fun sides!

Monday (Memorial Day)
BBQ to kick-off the summer season – it’s unofficial, but it’s real!

Tomato Toast
Eggs with Everything Bagel Seasoning


Back to Summer Parties

Did anyone else learn that they enjoy being social more than they realized over the last 12-15 months? And, now have a slightly harder time getting back into socializing with more than your “bubble” of people as things are starting to go back to pre-pandemic “normals”?

I never thought I relied on having people over and seeing people (in person) as much as I realized I did. And, thankfully, last summer we were able to do some small backyard BBQs during the later summer/early fall months. Though there was some trepidation by all, even though most of us had been staying home, etc.

As the weather has improved over the last few weeks, I’ve been waiting for the moment to have people over, to enjoy being around more than the 6-8 people I considered my “bubble” over the last 12 months. And, then….I became quickly overwhelmed by the sudden pressure of having everything ready and together, being with company and preparing food; being engaging and welcoming but not being overwhelming; suddenly unsure of if everyone would be comfortable and relaxed, or expected something different from me, and then the exhaustion that set-in as soon as everyone left and all was put away…it honestly felt like what I/we always referred to as the “first event of the year”, all sorts of clunky and getting our “sea legs” under us. I can’t be the only one, right??

I thrive on making meal plans and party plans – and there was a new motivation I had with this fresh start of getting together again after so long, finding creative new recipes to try for the right crowd, making new appetizers and snacks for everyone to enjoy over a beer, glass of wine and around the firepit or pool. Plating colorful dishes on crisp white plates, watching everyone enjoy.

With the first family gathering under my belt, I’m looking forward to a fun summer or weekends in the backyard, family and friends coming and going, without a thought of time or schedules. And, don’t forget unexpected happy hours that just happen, and meeting new people as we all just take in the summer weather out and about. It’s the “picture perfect” way I expected to spend summers in this new house of mine (that I moved into right before the pandemic, who knew…) – and so this needs to be the beginning, for my sanity, for my meal plans and food testing (for all to enjoy) and for the fulfillment and contentment I have been searching for all this time.

And so, here we are, Memorial Weekend upon us in a couple of days…and I have a full schedule of Farmers Markets, friends over, family parties and BBQs to plan, execute and enjoy – and I can’t wait! What’s on your menu(s) this weekend?

I’m making the recipes below if you need or want any ideas! Make sure you comment below or on my Instagram posts about what you’ve tried and how it turned out!

As always – keep in touch about what you make and how you like any recipes I’ve recommended in the blog or on my Instagram account – and let me know what you’d like to see next up on here!

There’s more to come this week, before everyone heads off to a long weekend of warm weather, friends, family and fun – if you need any help planning your weekend and prepping for a weekend off from all the cooking, email me or comment below!


Family Dynamics and Meal Planning

Do you ever find yourself struggling to keep everyone happy and meet everyone’s dietary needs at the dinner table, especially when you’re trying to please children, partners and parents alike?

I plan meals, workouts and “quiet time” each week, because I am a planner and a “to-do list” kind of girl; but also because it provides the structure I need to keep things moving forward. To remove some of the emotion from the day to day, the kind of emotion that can throw off weeks or months of work, and can be the guiding compass of what to do when I’m too overwhelmed to think too hard.

I’ve had my struggles with food over the years, and I am constantly working on my relationship with food, fitness and self-care. During quarantine, I was inspired after coming across a new chef (to me) on Instagram, What’s Gaby Cooking, and I was drawn to her approach to food preparation, flavor combinations and the focus on enjoying what you make and sharing food with those you love. I found peace and happiness in the focus on mindful eating, and how to incorporate that to help repair some of the challenges I have with what to eat, how to eat it, etc. when there is so much noise about what is right/wrong to eat, etc. in society.

I didn’t grow up in a house that we had a specific type of cooking or food preparation that we all followed, we did mainly ate homecooked meals my mom generally prepared (except grilling and Sunday breakfast – that was all my dad). Our meals were balanced, with protein, carbs and vegetables. I, like many, thought I would be so different about how and what I ate once I lived in my first apartment and could cook/eat/order whatever I wanted. And, I did test the limits – but I also always came back to preparing and eating meals for myself/family/friends at home, just like I grew up around.

Fast-forward 16 years, I now look at food for nutrition, enjoyment, and balance. But, some habits die hard. Just this weekend, I made a huge dinner salad for one of the hot nights we had while I had family staying with me, to which someone commented “this is a nice light meal for a change”. It was meant truly as a compliment due to the overwhelming heat, variety of ingredients, but nothing too heavy while we all enjoyed the A/C blasting around us, but I was transported back a few years and it was hard to finish eating what I had on my plate.

Having grown up around some family members who passively-aggressively commented at every family gathering about their workout that day which allowed them to have an extra potato, and critiquing a salad choice for nutritional value, etc., I felt judged, even as a child, for my food choices, and it was always in the back of my mind.

For me, our dinner salad was just what sounded like a good dinner when it was 90 degrees at 8:00pm. But, it was suddenly a time machine that transported me back to those formative years, and my unhealthy relationship with food all those years ago. No one else would know that a simple statement would be such a trigger, it was a kind acknowledgement.

And so, I had a small step backward, but instead of sliding further and further back, this time I took it all in and then woke up the next day to push forward again. It’s not seamless or easy, but it’s better than feeling that everything was derailed and I’d have to start all over again. Progress. Which I credit not only to the work I’ve put in, but also that I have these solid plans that I put together on a weekly basis and follow them. Trusting that I am doing what is best for me, and not what is best for everyone else.

With so many family and friends in and out of this house and backyard every weekend, I am constantly coming up with different ways to create meals that will satisfy everyone’s dietary preferences and taste profiles. Many times it’s a creative challenge that actually come together perfectly and become part of our permanent rotation. What do you consider staples of your family dinners? How do you satisfy everyone’s preferences and dietary needs?

There is an unspoken rule in my house (based on my earlier food relationship struggles) that everyone is here to enjoy time together and a relaxing meal. I don’t want to feel the pressure of causing someone a “splurge” when it’s what I planned to serve and let everyone know ahead of time. I don’t want to feel the let down of putting time, energy and care into making a family meal that is met with nutritional content critique, etc. Because I do put time and energy into creating balanced meals every day – and yes, sometimes we have pizza with no vegetables and other times we have grilled chicken with potato chips. But, it’s not a decision that is made lightly or without every consideration and thought.

Who else out there has had a long-standing work in progress relationship with food? Who is reading this, with a positive relationship with food, and how do you manage it? I want to be the person who doesn’t always think about food, and who doesn’t constantly have that voice of those more discerning family members in my head when I prepare and enjoy something that isn’t the epitome of perfect nutritional content, but I want to learn from those who have already found the way.

Long story short, meal planning and family dinners can sometimes not go hand-in-hand; but if you keep putting time into planning meals and keeping everyone aware of what will be served so they can quietly plan accordingly, progress can happen, and I look forward to continuing to share the progress we make, while also hearing about yours!

You know my offer continues to stand – if you want or need help with planning meals, using what you have at home, saving money at the grocery store and finding new inspiration when you’re preparing meals, email me, comment below and follow me on Instagram – I look forward to connecting with everyone however I can help!


Week 20 Meal Plan

From Last week….Week 20 Meal Plan

Ready for all the colorful and fresh food that will be at the farmers markets this weekend, but in the meantime, I’m working up a few meals that will be simple, full of color, and prepared outside as much as possible! The pool goes up this weekend and it’ll be a weekend full of family and friends (in small groups) to enjoy the backyard. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for my in the moment results, adjustments and ideas!

Miso Marinated Cod, from What’s Gaby Cooking, served with Charred Broccolini – quick and flavorful marinade, fast sear or grill and the broccolini chars under the broiler or on the grill in minutes. Perfect for a Monday night dinner to start the week off right.

Pretzel-Coated Boneless Chicken Wings from Jeff Mauro’s new cookbook, Come On Over and a green salad. It’s a great rainy day meal for a small familyl dinner.

Crispy Salmon, another recipe from Jeff Mauro’s cookbook, Come on Over
Charred Eggplant, from Eat What You Want, 125 Recipes for Real Life cookbook from What’s Gaby Cooking

Chicken Tawook Quinoa Bowls, another one from What’s Gaby Cooking! Busy and warm day, but everything will be prepped ahead, just gril chicke nand bowls done!

Grilled Shrimp Diavolo from Bobby Flay’s cookbook, Bobby at Home. Grilled and a one-bowl meal.

Happy Hour in the backyard – pool time, sunshine and grilling whatever we decide. We’ll figure out the snacks and appetizers later this week.

Burgers with all the topping choices!

Tomato Toast
Eggs with Everything Bagel Seasoning


Top Hot Weather Food Prep Ideas

Meal Plans and food prep doesn’t look the same every season – especially the summer months when none of us want to heat up the house more than we have to, stand for hours at the stove or spend time cleaning the kitchen up when everyone is running around the backyard and enjoying the longer days outdoors.

Planning your meals around the fresh produce that is abundant and foods that are amazing right off the grill helps to reduce food waste, time cooking and preparing and limits kitchen clean-up. Read more tips below for making meal plans and food prep a breeze, whether it’s a regular weeknight or a weekend outdoor party and the weather is calling your name.

Batch cook grains once a week
Grains like quinoa, farro and barley are a fantastic base for so many salads and bowls. You can use them throughout the week in any meal, just by adding a few fridge or grilled ingredients along the way. See some ideas below:

  • Quinoa Yogurt Parfaits – suggested recipe from Katie Biegel/The Kitchen here
  • Quinoa, Corn and Avocado Salad – suggested recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking here
  • Farro, Chicken and Corn Salad – suggested recipe from Cooking Classy here
  • Farro Salad – suggested recipe from Gimme Some Oven here
  • Barley Salad – suggested recipe from Geoffrey Zakarian/The Kitchen here

Batch grill produce a few nights a week
Bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, onions, potatoes, broccoli/broccolini, just to name a few – can ALL be grilled in larger quantities to use one night, and then repurposed throughout the following few days. If you don’t have a grill, you can also roast the same vegetables at a high heat (400 or so) instead. Grilling just keeps the heat outside. Ideas below!

Batch grill chicken, seafood, fish and steak a few nights a week
Grilling chicken in double batches means fresh marinated/seasoned chicken for dinner one night, and using leftovers for salads, bowls, sandwiches and more later in the week. Same for steak, seafood, fish and pork. Grilled fish is fantastic on fresh salads the next day (fish should be eaten within 24 hours of cooking for best flavor). Grilled seafood is a great chilled appetizer the next day. Grilled steak – a fun change of pace for your panini or salad the following day, or as a topping for nachos. Remember to freeze your meats with marinades mixed in so that they marinate while defrosting, saving time. Or – I highly recommend the What’s Gaby Cooking line of spices at Williams-Sonoma. Some recipes to try when batch grilling below:

Green Salads, Mix-Ins and Dressings
Prepping all of your salad elements when you bring your groceries home or on your larger prep day each week means you can pull the containers out, put together a salad and move on with your afternoon. Remember all of the protein you’ve grilled throughout the week? That’s an easy add-on for a boost of flavor and protein. How to make salad assembly easy:

  • Chop all your lettuces, rinse and place in a bag or container with a dry paper towel to capture any remaining moisture
  • Slice and chop onions and place in a small container
  • Cut fresh corn off the cob or defrost frozen corn in the refrigerator
  • Toast and chop raw nuts and store in an airtight container
  • Shred and crumble any cheeses
  • Prep dressings and store in mason jars in the fridge
  • Shred radishes, carrots, zucchini, etc. and store in separate containers
  • Chop celery, jicama, etc. and stoere in separate containers

Salads can be mundane if you eat the same salad each day, but with multiple ingredients and dressing options each week, you can keep things interesting and try different taste profiles. A few salad recipes and dressing ideas below:

Other Salads –
Cook and chill salads such as chicken salad, egg salad, pasta salad, potato salad, etc. are great weekend prep to eat throughout the week, combining with some of the options above as well. These types of salads can be a meal on their own or a side dish for one of the nights you grill, or mixed into one of the grain bowls, green salads, etc. Try a few of the recipes below for cool, refreshing meals or sides when the summer temps start to rise:

Keep me posted on some of your summer favorites, and if you use any of these tips, let me know how they work for you! I know we’ll all get new ideas throughout the season, so I may consider this Part 1, and share more tips, recipes and recommendations as summer ramps up.

If you have any questions, or need any additional guidance as you continue your meal planning and food prep journey, commend below, email me at planpreppackplate@gmail.com and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more recipe ideas! I look forward to connecting with everyone again tomorrow!


Get Out of Your Head.

That’s the number of steps I’ve taken since I welcomed in the next year of my life seven days ago. It is true what they say, the first step is the hardest.

That’s the distance I’ve covered (in miles). The miles of phone calls with friends, podcasts that entertained me and some quiet time for my random thoughts, memories and questions in life.

That’s the number of minutes I spent outdoors. May not seem like a huge deal in a given week, but for me it’s a huge step forward, finally recovering from the toxic place I was in for so long, in the name of “success”, slowly learning that I do deserve better.

That’s the number of meals I prepared and didn’t default to eating out or skip them altogether. Probably sounds ridiculous, as someone who focuses on meal planning and food prep – but, my focus on meal planning and food prep is closely tied to my activity level – the more active I am, the better I am about preparing healthy meals and not thinking so hard.

I mean, let’s be honest, don’t we all want immediate gratification and visible progress? 100%. Do I feel like the world should know that I’m making progress without reading about it on a blog? 100%. But, I will to be patient, and I keep going because I can – and I haven’t always been able to say that.

Like I’ve said before, I didn’t grow up with physical activity and fitness as a priority and I have many of the scarring memories of being the slowest person in gym class, the least played person in little league and being picked last for recess games. I loved growing up with family always around, and I cherish the memories around the dining room table(s) talking and laughing and eating all the food! It’s what drives me to want to give others that same experience, with easy to prepare food around the table; and, turn to food as a reward or way to celebrate something great.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve gone in spurts of working out since I was 18 years old, and then taken long breaks in between. And, each break came with a larger backstory or problem… when work got busy, and I didn’t work in a place that taking a break to work out was acceptable or encouraged (which is a whole different blog post!); or, friends/family planned activities that I put ahead of working out because I didn’t want to be “that one” who had to get her workout in, when no one else thought that was a priority (yet another blog post in the future!); or, plain exhaustion/pain that I let overwhelm me to the point that I didn’t feel I deserved to have a healthy life.

The one thing that I used to have in my life, that I didn’t have in the same way this time, was that small contingent of people, who knew me differently, and who didn’t let me wallow in my own self-pity – who would tell me to go and get it done. Not to think about it, not to listen to everyone (and my own head) who said to skip it, and to just go do it. I had to find that in myself on my own this go-around.

I have to make my own self get out the door and meet the step goal I set for myself. I have to tell myself it’s worth it even though I am not a super model after week one. I have to get my own self out of my own head. I want to get back on my bike and cover more miles, I want to put my rollerblades back on and feel the breeze whipping around me – but it’s all starting with just walking. No pressure for number of minutes or miles, only to cross 10,000 steps each day, however those happen.

I know those who supported me before are still out in the world, even if we aren’t able to be in the same place as each other anymore, and would be right by my side if circumstances were different. And, though I have gotten myself back on track, it’s not without the voices of those few people in the back of my head reminding me to not think, not dwell, just get one foot in front of the other; just to give it another try and not to give up.

So – for anyone else who is out there, trying to find their courage to not try anymore, but to do something – know that you have me to rely on and to get you from “trying/thinking/talking” to “creating/having/doing”. I will be the one who tells you to get out of your head, get outside and get it done – whether it’s a workout, a meal plan or a life-changing idea – just like those who have always done the same for me. We all need support from those who know life is about taking risks and making things happen, not just talking about them.

Week 1 of my 52 week challenge to not stay stuck in where I was, is done. Steadily moving into Week 2…a little less cerebral, and a lot more active and proud that I made progress even if it’s not as clear to the rest of the world. Get outside, take in the sunshine, the budding flowers and you’ll thank yourself.

As always, let me know about your big plans, your food prep and any questions I can help you get answers to as we all take one day at a time. Heading outside to find a new walking path!


10 Kitchen Items for Easy Meal Prep!

Meal prep sounds easy and doable until you realize you don’t have some of the things that make it worth the time, effort and don’t make you want to just order out! The list below is the set of basics I found helpful when getting into meal prep, and I promise to share more items that I use frequently as we continue to talk meal prep, healthy meals and workouts – keeping in mind what will make things as streamlined as possible!

Slow Cooker (I have two of these and I use them ALL THE TIME) –
The only way to cook while you work or have fun! There are so many sizes and features, but the one feature I think is critical is a digital timer so that you can set more precise cook times, especially if you might be out longer than the cook times needed.

Half Sheet Pans (I have eight of these, they are constantly in use) –
Whether you need to freeze cookie dough quickly, roast some vegetables, bake some chicken, transport food to/from the grill or make a bag of french fries….these pans are so versatile AND can go in the dishwasher! They are not non-stick, so you will need a bit of canola or olive oil spray to keep things from sticking.

Non-Stick Skillet Set (I am loving this one these days, and you can find them at Marshall’s) –
These pans heat up quickly and evenly, are a breeze to clean. I use mine to cook the best scrambled or over-medium eggs, and heat up leftovers without anything sticking, and without having to use a microwave. Obviously, I can’t use these to heat leftovers when I’m not at home, but when working from home or on the weekends, these pans are a permanent fixture on my stove. And, on those large food prep/cooking days, they are a quick clean-up and reuse pan, which I can’t say for all of my beloved pans!

Cutting Boards (I have a couple of sets, similar to this set) –
Having a few boards helps you cut produce and raw meats without any cross-contamination; helps keep the counters clear (you can pick-up the boards and move them easily), and you can cut/season your proteins and vegetables right on the cutting board and carry them to the grill (if it’s grilling season!). And – being dishwasher safe, you will be able to sanitize your cutting boards between uses. If you happen to have a wood cutting board as well, it makes a great serving platter or cheese board, if you are short on serving pieces when you’re prepping for company!

Mini Waffle Maker (I’ve had this one for years, it’s fantastic) –
If you’re buying toaster waffles and hash brown patties all the time, invest in this $10 waffle maker. It cooks individual waffles up in minutes, and you can freeze them for the week (we usually make a batch for a weekend breakfast, and freeze whatever we don’t eat). It also works with tater tots or shredded hashbrowns to make homemade (season as you’d like!) hash brown patties – another great make and freeze breakfast item.

Desktop Food Warmer (I’ve used this one for a few years, and have the larger size as well) –
After all of your hard work prepping food for the week, don’t settle for waiting in line for the microwave or trying to maintain multipe thermoses to keep meals warm. This food warmer is perfect to heat up a breakfast sandwich (in foil) or a bowl of soup – all while you work on your latest report. No excuses to skip lunch again!

Glass Jars with Screw Top Lids (I bought a set of large and small of these, they last forever) –
These jars work for almost anything – storing dressings, veggies and dip, salads with dressing (just make sure it’s on the bottom!), pudding, overnight oats, chia pudding, the list goes on. They are also diswhasher-safe and durable – I don’t recommend dropping them on the ground, but they can withstand a bit more rough handling than regular glass. They also make a great vessel to hold last minute gifts, like those cookie kits we’ve all received before (just find a recipe online!)

2Qt. Beverage Containers (I have multiple of these, they are durable and long-lasting) –
Use these containers for making cold-brew coffee, mixing lemonade or iced tea, holding sangria, leftover beverages, etc. Also great for taking where glass containers aren’t safe or allowed, such as on boats. Having a few means you can store a few different beverages at once, and are great for parties.

Freezer and Fridge Containers (these are the ones I’m currently using) –
Whether freezing or refrigerating your prepped food, these containers are able to withstand various uses. and have tight fitting lids so that they can transport easily without spilling on your way to the office. As an aside, it does help to have a few smaller and plastic containers for condiments and smaller portions.

Permanent and Wet Erase Markers
For marking all of your prep, if using ziploc bags (for meats, etc.) use a permanent marker to keep track of what the item is, when it was purchased and any other instructions, such as preparation information if there is a marinade, has a coating, etc. For your reusable containers, make sure to use wet erase markers so that you can reuse the container for other items. Make sure to wipe it off BEFORE you put them in the dishwasher so that the marking doesn’t stick.

What are your favorite meal prep items? Anything on this list also your go-to? Make sure to let me know in the comments below and continue to follow me on Instagram and Facebook for the latest meals and recipes coming out of my kitchen!


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