Saturday, January 2, 2010

Jan. 2, 2010: Meal Planning

The key to eating clean is preparation. I find that most of us fall off the wagon when we aren't prepared. Hunger is a powerful motivator to grab something at Taco Bell's drive thru! I find that if I make a bunch of basics all at once then there is always something to grab quicker than you can say "Happy Meal"!

The best food prep site I know of is this one
Chelle has successfully maintained a large weight loss for over a year. She was featured in Women's Health magazine and I have modified her food prep plan for our family's use. Check it out - I know you will be impressed!

Once a week I do a big food prep and usually there is a little more cooking once or twice a week. I like to have certain basics on hand so that I can put a meal on the table (or in the cooler) in a snap.

I always have the following items prepared because I can change up the flavors and have many different types of meals according to how the day is going:

baked brown rice (recipe below)

chicken breasts

veggie steamer bags (instructions below)

ground meat (usually turkey or chicken, sometimes beef) (recipe below)

These are a few staples I also have on hand:

Canned beans (rinse before using them to remove some salt)

clean salsa

all natural whole wheat pita bread

frozen corn


jalapeno relish (recipe below)

plain yogurt

whole wheat pasta

clean spaghetti sauce

tomato juice and tomato paste

baby spinach




natural peanut butter

clean crackers


If you keep this stuff around you can have a lot of variety. As you work your way through this you will figure out what works best for the tastes of you and your family.

Steamer Bags of Veggies:

This is an invaluable suggestion from Chelle's website. My kitchen would not be complete without steamer bags full of veggies. As soon as I get home from the grocery store, all veggies that are to be cooked over the week get washed and prepped for cooking (cut up, peeled, etc.) Then the veggies are placed in steamer bags with a sprinkling of Mrs. Dash or other seasonings. I always have several in the fridge to choose from. Right now in my fridge I have bags of : cabbage, broccoli, broccoli and cauliflower, cauliflower and carrots, asparagus, and green beans and carrots. They get nuked for 4-6 minutes and then are all set.

If I am in a hurry ( which is most of the time) I steam the veggies before adding them to the stir fry skillet - it really speeds things along!

Ground meat:

1 pound of ground meat ( lean beef, chicken breast or turkey breast)

1/4 cup diced onion

2 cloves of minced garlic

chili powder to taste

1/2 can of tomato paste

Saute veggies in a bit of olive oil. Add meat and cook until browned. Add chili powder and stir in tomato paste. Thin with water if necessary. Cook for a couple of minutes until blended. This mixture is good for a quick taco filling, spaghetti sauce, or chili. It is also good stirred into rice and topped with salsa for an all in one dish.

Baked Brown Rice
(This recipe is a modified version of Alton Brown's Baked Brown Rice - you can check out Alton's version at this link )

1 1/2 cups of brown/wild rice mixture

2 1/2 cups of homemade stock (you can use a clean canned chicken broth if you can find one)

1 cup of baby spinach

1/2 cup carrots

2 cloves garlic

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375F. Bring stock to a boil on the stove. I use a pot that can go in the oven to make things easier. While boiling stock, put spinach, carrots and garlic into the food processor and pulse until it is coarsely ground. Add the veggie mixture and the rice to the pot and immediately put the lid on it to seal it tightly. Place this in the oven for exactly one hour and you will have a big pot of perfect fluffy rice.

I usually have my chicken breasts baking on the other rack in the oven at the same time.

With the rice you have a side that goes with any meal: Mexican, Chinese, Greek - it is very versatile. It's also delicious in a soup.

Jalapeno Relish

6 jalapeno peppers

1 tbs. white vinegar

pinch of organic cane sugar.

Yet another food processor recipe! Remove the stem from peppers. For a less spicy condiment remove seeds. I just take off the stem and cut each pepper into 3 pieces and place in the bowl of the food processor. Add other ingredients and pules until finely minced. This makes a delicious spicy condiment to add to your food. I love spicy food and the kids don't so this is one way I like to add some bite to my chili or tacos.

Here is a list of meals that can be quickly put together using the above foods:

Chicken and broccoli stir fry over rice

rice and chicken skillet with salsa

Pita sloppy joes with ground meat

spaghetti with meat sauce

mexican meat and rice

chicken soft tacos

ground meat soft tacos


Chicken vegetable soup with rice or noodles

Chicken cacciatore with pasta

pita pizza with chicken and veggies

Chicken pita w/ tzatzki and veggies

I hope this gives you a few ideas for meal planning and food prep. This system is working really well for us. It's family friendly and best of all, there is constantly good food ready and available.

Have a squeaky clean day!



  1. Hey I hope you're storing your unused tomato paste in an airtight container vs leaving it in the can once opened!!

  2. Libby ~ Most of the time !!! I was lazy because it was going into something else the next morning!