Pescatarian Meal Prep made easy
I love the topic of meal prepping, in fact a super detailed guide that I wrote with my dietician friend will be in my upcoming book The Posh Life Plan. The chapter will include daily menus including beverage options. The book is going to be epic and destined to be the go-to pescatarian lifestyle guide.
This post is for those folks who have the motivation to meal prep, but are getting lost in the workflow. If you are new to meal prepping then please visit my post called Posh’s Pescatarian Meal Prep to get up to speed.
As a reminder, the basic steps for meal prepping are:
Plan your meals
Shop for food
Prep your ingredients
Pack your meals
There are some best practices that I encourage, such as cleaning out your fridge and taking a food inventory so that you know what you have on hand. This is good advice in general, but very important to meal planning because refrigerator space is at a premium. Another important best practice is buying the right containers. This is one thing that really trips people up.
I get questions about food containers at least once a week. What brand, what size, how many to buy, etc. I use a combination of sturdy, high quality containers from a company called Sistema Plastics. I use these for salads, fruit cups and entrees. I also use portion control plastic bags from Target for nuts, seeds & hard-boiled eggs and a metal thermos from Ikea that I mostly use for soups and chowders. My goal is to keep it simple. It is important not to complicate your packaging.
If you are truly struggling with making a container purchase here is my advice, determine what kinds of meals you will be prepping as part of your routine – hot or cold. If you are like me then salads are a mid-day mainstay so a container that holds at least two cups of lettuce and does not need to be refrigerated is important (I like my salads room temp). If you want to make hot lunches then shop accordingly and make sure your packaging is microwave or oven safe. Decide on how many meals you want to prep and buy the appropriate number of containers. That is pretty much it.
There are some inexpensive meal prep containers available online that I am currently experimenting with. This particular brand from California Home Goods cost $9.95 for a pack of 10. I immediately noticed that they are not as study as my Sistema containers and my primary concern is spillage since the lids aren’t locked down. But for the causal meal prepper, they may come in handy. We will see, but overall my advice is to buy good quality containers so that your experience with meal prepping is a pleasant one from the beginning.
For the most part meal planning (deciding on your menu) and shopping is the fun stuff. Most people can get through this part pretty easily. But once they get home, it’s a different story. After they unpack and the counter tops are covered with food, the task seems monumental. At the beginning of my meal prep journey I felt this way, too. I had to practice a few times in order to make things seamless and make my workflow a pleasant one. I learned to spread the work over a couple of days and to make the experience a good one instead of a thankless chore. Here is my basic routine:
- On Friday evening or Saturday morning I clean my out my fridge. I throw out any old food and wipe everything down with bleach spray. This gives me a fresh, clean start. Buy the way; you should clean out your refrigerator regularly, regardless of meal prepping.
- Based on the contents of my fridge, pantry and what is on sale at the market, I plan my meals. I usually pack salads and soups or brown rice and fish because these meals travel well and are a great way to get in all of my veggies & whole grains. Establishing a standard kind of meal or theme is important because it will help you determine the types of containers that you will buy and cut down on costs from week to week.
- Speaking of containers, one practical thing that I do is check my packaging and make sure I have all of my containers back from hubby. He leaves them in his car or at work sometimes. Once I have them all accounted for, I set them out on the cabinet. I set the intention to fill them with good, healthy, yummy food.
- One of my favorite parts of this process is shopping for food. I like to do this on Saturday so that by Sunday, I have everything that I need and I’m ready to go. It doesn’t always work out way depending on social engagements, but I try. My shopping list usually includes romaine lettuce, arugula, tomatoes, cucumber, black beans, chickpeas, blue berries, cashews, eggs, goat cheese, red onion, red beets, zucchini, wine, canned clams and sweet potatoes. I also like to shop for spices, but I digress. I usually visit two stores and a farmers market.
- After church on Sunday, I start my prep. This is the step where most people get lost and feel the most challenged. To get past this hurdle, you must carve out dedicated time for prpping with as little distraction as possible. Distraction will lead to procrastination, which will result in you not completing the task. Here is what I do:
- I grab my favorite beverage, find a good playlist and get to work chopping veggies and fruit, rinsing canned beans, roasting salmon, boiling eggs, packing nuts, etc.
- My must-have kitchen tools for meal prepping are a salad spinner, cutting board, paper towels and a knife
- If I am roasting salmon or chicken (hubby is not a pescatarian) or steaming brown rice then I make these items first so that they are cool and ready to pack by the time the rest of the stuff is done.
- Once everything is rinsed, dried and cooled I pack the meals, usually enough for 3 to 4 days.
I have been doing this so long that it is easier to do this myself, but from time to time I commandeer hubby for assignments. He typically does the dishes, or should I say, loads the dishwasher, and he packs meals on occasion. He does not have the best handle on portion size. I’m working with him on this.
Think good thoughts
Outside of workflow, another reason some people get tripped-up on the meal prepping, especially if they are prepping meals for the entire family, is resentment.
I hate to say it but it is true and I have felt this way from time to time. Spending hours in the kitchen while your spouse is playing tennis or watching Netflix can be frustrating. I encourage you to switch your though process and consider meal prep to be the ultimate gift of love! Seriously, as you pack each healthy meal, think about the numerous ways you are keeping the family and yourself out of harms way.
Keep in mind that meal prepping is a lifestyle that takes some work, but it is well worth it! Once you have a routine, a rhythm and a set of recipes, it will get easier.