Getting Back to Basics

I recently changed jobs, and this change introduced several new and exciting personal experiences and opportunities. The change also re-introduced me to some old experiences, specifically meal prepping. For the last year, I had the luxury of catered lunches (which introduces their own nutritional complications), so my prepping experience wasn’t needed. However, my new company doesn’t offer the same benefit; therefore, I am revisiting/reinvesting in my meal prep cookbook.

Meal prepping offers not only an economical weekly lunch strategy but also offers the agency and control of your nutritional goals. Also, as a result, it’s a quick way to gain your co-workers’ admiration when your home-cooking wafts throughout the office kitchen. I won’t belabor the nutritional advantages of cooking, but when you cook, you govern the ingredients and their quality. Therefore, if you are serious about a healthy lifestyle, meal prepping should already be a prominent part of your routine.

Keeping this post simple, I’ll share the basics to work week meal preparation, along with some of my favorite recipes.

The Equipment

There are two fundamental kitchen accessories I have that make my weekly meal prep effective and efficient – Instant Pot and Crock Pot. From the time I began writing this post until now (a few months later), I’ve entirely transitioned off of my trusty Crock Pot and rely entirely on the Instant Pot for meal prepping (more on why later).

Here is the Instant Pot I use: Instant Pot on Amazon

Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker


Just as important as it is to prep your weekly lunches, it’s critical to have high-quality storage containers. These glass storage containers from Amazon are great because they avoid unnecessary food transfer (container to bowl/plate to microwave) and have a “SmartestLock” that guarantees you won’t be cleaning up leaks in your bag – a meal prepper’s worst nightmare.

Prep Naturals Glass Meal Prep Containers – Food Prep Containers with Lids Meal Prep

Instant Pot – The Basics

Anytime I pitch the Instant Pot, I always think of this Family Guy scene:

Family Guy Instant Pot

Jokes aside, it is truly is ground-breaking. The Instant Pot can cook/bake/sauté anything (veggies, protein, grains, etc.) and takes 5-25 minutes (depending on volume). This means your Sunday meal prep or any meal for that matter only needs to take an hour to provide lunch for the entire week!

Getting Started

The following is the most simple recipe you can do. Additionally, what’s great about this recipe that it can be the foundation for your prep routine. Each week you can shop for these essential items while interchanging the protein.

Shopping List:

  • 4 celery stalks
  • 12-16 oz. carrots
  • 12 oz. mushrooms
  • 2 lbs protein of choice (chicken, pork, beef)
  • 12 oz. chicken/beef broth
  • 1 medium onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt/pepper
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Cumin

Preparation:

  • Slice/dice/mince all vegetables
    • Thinly slice celery
    • Chop carrots
    • Thinly Dice onions
    • Peel/mince Garlic
  • Double check inner lining pot is in the Instant Pot (you’d be surprised how many people forget to do this)
  • Add 1-2 Tbs of olive oil to the pot and select “sauté” function
  • Once hot, add onions and sauté until lightly brown (2-3 minutes)
  • Add garlic for another 1 minute
  • If cooking beef or pork*
    • Remove onions/garlic and place in bowlAdd beef and sauté until your beef is mostly brown (5-7 minutes)
      • Season with salt and pepper
      • Add pork and sear each side (1-2 minutes each side)
  • Once finished browning/searing, select cancel

Cooking:

  • Add the remainder of the ingredients and broth into the Instant Pot
    • Stir in seasoning
  • Add the lid and make sure the steam valve is in the seal” position
  • Select “manual” and select the appropriate cooking time
  • Once finished, you can either do a natural release (leave for another 10 minutes) or quick release (switch the seal valve from “seal” to “release”
  • That’s it! Just like that, you have the ingredients for a delicious meal for your entire work week.
  • If cooking chicken, remove and shred
  • Equally distribute into your storage containers and enjoy!

Moving from basic to advanced

Once you feel comfortable with the basic mechanics of the Instant Pot, preparation, and cooking, the sky is the limit for what you can achieve.

Here are some of my favorite recipes for meal prep and dinners:

Also, here is an AWESOME cookbook I use for weekly inspiration

Conclusion

I realize this post became a glorified promotion of the Instant Pot, but the way I can achieve a healthy lifestyle is through habits/tools that cultivate consistency. With the Instant Pot, I know what groceries I need each week, how long I need for cooking, and what I need to do to make a healthy and tasty meal for the entire week.

Habits and routines are hard to build and even harder to maintain. If you are committed to your health and fitness goals, find ways to work smarter, not harder.

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