The Super Lazy Person's Guide to Meal Prep (for real)
I’m not talking about your average person who doesn’t spend all Sunday meal prepping. I’m talking about the people who refuse to get off the couch and pack a lunch for the next day. People who want a short grocery list and a shorter trip to the store. People who want to try and want healthy options, but like me sometimes let their bad habits get the best of them.
You know when you see a link on Pinterest for “easy lunch recipes” to take to work with you? And then you go to the site and it’s like, a salad in a mason jar with sprouts and six different fresh vegetables and marinated grilled chicken breast on the side and a perfectly portioned container of salad dressing?
I decided to do some research to backup my claims here, so I just typed “lunch ideas” into the Pinterest search bar. The first few that come up are “chicken, cheese & pesto quesadillas”, “turkey and cheese baked crescent roll sandwiches”, “homemade avocado pasta salad”, and “huli-huli chicken thighs with jasmine rice and spicy beans”. Yeah sorry, no. That’s the kind of stuff I would cook if I was hosting a freakin’ dinner party. Except if we’re being honest I would probably never host a dinner party and if I did I would have it catered. Not only am I lazy but I enjoy living well beyond my means. It’s kinda my thang.
For the past two weeks I have been ridin’ the extra lazy train, which means that I don’t feel like grocery shopping and meal prepping. HOWEVER, this does not mean that I have been going out and buying a cheesesteak every day for lunch. Instead I looked for shortcuts, as I always do, so that when I get up in the morning I can throw a bunch of stuff in a lunch box and still be ready to head out the door in a timely manner. *Disclaimer, while I am extremely picky with regard to what I will and will not eat, when it comes to the things I like I’m not very fancy. I just pour hot sauce on stuff and find it satisfying, so if you like gourmet meals every day at work then this one probably isn’t for you.
One issue I always come across is trying to pack fruits and veggies for lunch. Yes, salads can be very easy to throw together, but if I don’t eat one every day of the week then all of the fresh greens and toppings I bought go bad. You know how the leaves get all wet and dark green? I hate it. No thank you. I find even if I try, it almost always ends up going to waste. So, I buy frozen (and organic) when I can! Frozen broccoli, frozen pre-grilled asparagus, frozen brussell sprouts. Things that can be steamed in the microwave in a bowl covered with a plate. Easy peasy. I currently have bags of all three in the freezer so I didn’t even have to think about shopping and I don’t have to worry about them going bad.
This weekend, I ran into Giant to grab a rotisserie chicken and a sweet potato for dinner. I ended up buying a bag of mini steamable sweet potatoes. I was in and out in less than 10 minutes, and the potatoes coupled with the $5 whole chicken has turned into my lunch for the week.
Step 1: Shred some chicken off the rotisserie chicken and throw into a Ziploc baggie.
Step 2: Bring bag of sweet potatoes to work. Eat one. Close bag with rubber band. Store in cabinet or at desk. Eat another tomorrow.
Step 3: Put pre-grilled frozen asparagus in the microwave or toaster oven and heat with rest of food. Store in freezer.
Step 4: Top with hot sauce of choice (I suggest Cholula).
Basically, I bring a bag of potatoes and a frozen bag of my veggie of choice for the week into work on Monday and stick it in the freezer/cabinet. Then the only thing I have to bring for the rest of the week is a baggie of shredded chicken, or a burger, or chicken sausage, or whatever it may be. I also supplement this with a banana, KIND bars, Lara bars, and yogurt on a rotating basis. On Friday’s my office cleans out the fridge, but by the end of the week I’ve usually finished off all stored my food!
If I wanna bring protein powder with me for my post-workout meal I throw it in a ziplock baggie. Cause my Tupperware is constantly disappearing. I swear my mom is throwing it out, piece by piece.
I also pack my breakfast because I have no time in the morning to eat before the train if I want to be able to paint my face on before leaving the house. Priorities. I put a scoop of rolled oats, a scoop of vanilla protein powder, and a handful of frozen blueberries into a container and microwave at work. Then I top with a scoop of almond butter, from the jar, which I also leave in the fridge at work during the week. The oatmeal is the only thing I bring in Tupperware now. I can pack everything else in its original container or a baggie.
Tonight I’m sleeping at Dan’s, so instead of cooking two meals and packing a stack of tupperwares, all I had to do was pack extra shredded chicken in today’s bag. The potatoes, the frozen veggies, the almond butter, etc., are all already at the office where they can stay until Friday. Also I packed an extra banana to eat as a snack with the aforementioned almond butter.
Last week, I left a small box of frozen turkey burgers in the freezer and cooked one each day in the toaster oven on broil with a side of sweet potato and broccoli. Sub red potatoes, carrots, roasted red peppers, etc. Buy a bag of riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s and stick that in the fridge for the week as the base of your meal instead of sweet potatoes, I just happen to be a sweet potato fanatic.
If you’re worried about hogging fridge space, just keep what you can at your desk. But really, a jar of almond butter and 8oz. of yogurt don’t really take up any room. And a rolled up half empty bag of frozen broccoli doesn’t go much damage either.
When I want to save money on my caffeine habit, I buy a plastic jug of Starbucks black iced coffee (sold in grocery stores) and pour it in a Nalgene with almond milk. Add ice at work. Drink to stay alive.
What do you guys do to cut corners when it comes to packing easy/healthy lunches?