No matter what I do, I still manage to run out of time and feel crunched getting my meals ready for the week. No amount of planning seems to do away with the Sunday night rush (or Monday morning, packing it all up work)! Over the years, I’ve gravitated towards a few simple meals and packaged items that I go for week after week, because they require less hands-on cook time and give me more nutritional bang for my buck.
This tends to be the toughest meal for me – because breakfast food, in general, tends to be very carb heavy! I have a hard time making sure I’m hitting my protein requirements here, so I don’t end up with a weird macro balance before bed, but I’ve finally figured out a few meals and grocery items that make mornings really easy for me. I also pack my breakfast and eat it at my desk at work, so it needs to be something portable, that won’t get ruined in the microwave, and easy to throw together if I run late!
- Kodiak Cakes are a HUGE staple of mine! Besides eating them for breakfast, they make a lovely afternoon weekend snack (or a weeknight healthy “indulgence” if you’re craving baked goods or a chocolate treat). I love adding egg whites to mine to make the pancakes fluffier (read: bigger) and for even more protein. This yields about 2 large pancakes, or 4 smaller ones like the picture, if you pour them into the pan with a 1/4 C scoop. I get lazy and just pour them straight from the bowl I mixed it in!
- 1/2 cup Kodiak Cakes protein pancake mix
- 1/2 cup water
- 6 T egg whites
- 20 Ghirardelli 60% semisweet chocolate chips (the BIG ones)
- Mix the first 3 ingredients with a fork or whisk in a large bowl until there are no lumps. Spray a heated nonstick skillet with oil (I like avocado oil spray!) and once hot, pour 1/4 – 1/2 C of the batter in. Evenly drop chocolate chips onto the poured batter, then flip once bubbles stop appearing on the surface. These cook just like normal pancakes!
- 340 calories / 10g fat / 25g protein / 40g carbohydrates
- While I tend to make most of my food at home, sometimes there just isn’t time. If that’s the case, or I’m a cooking a rather labor-intensive lunch and dinner for the week and just want something effortless for breakfast, I go with Siggi’s Icelandic style 0% fat yogurt (I just love plain old vanilla bean – I do not like fruit yogurt!) and a Perfect Bar (carob chip is my absolute favorite – it’s life changing). Even better if you let the Perfect Bar come to room temperature so it gets a bit melty, and you can crumble it onto your yogurt! If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll add some pepitas (1 ounce yields 5 easy grams of protein!) and some dried cherries.
- For the Siggi’s (0% vanilla bean): 120 cal / 0g fat / 15g protein / 12g carbohydrates
- For the Perfect Bar (carob chip): 330 cal / 18g fat (worth it) / 16g protein / 28g carbohydrates
- Pro tip: Perfect Bars are very expensive to buy online because they require refrigeration (and thus, fast shipping and an insulated shipping container)! I went months without realizing my grocery store sold them, because they are tucked away by the pharmacy with all the refrigerated vitamins & fish oil supplements. Who knew!
- Aidell’s chicken sausage is another major staple for me – often times for breakfast, but frequently for lunch and dinner too! My absolute favorite for breakfast is the pineapple & bacon flavor. These guys are super flavorful for being a chicken sausage, so they feel like a treat! While they are a little higher in fat, they are totally worth it in my book (and you balance it out with fat free yogurt or an easy carb like fruit and you’re golden).
- 210 cal / 14g fat / 12g protein / 8g carbohydrates
While lunch and dinner can be pretty interchangeable, I tend to leave meals that require a bit more assembly for dinner time when I’m home and don’t have to pack up a bunch of different components. Lunch, then, is something I can throw in a tupperware and microwave all in one go (or eat cold). These also tend to be the least creative meals for me, following a bit of a “meal template” of protein-veg-carb every time.
- Sweet potato + ground turkey + broccolini (or kale) is pretty much my lunch staple to pack up and bring to work. While some may find it boring, I actually love it! I roast my sweet potatoes til they are ridiculously soft and sweet, which makes a huge difference.
- 5 oz ground turkey (94% lean)
- 70g broccolini (or kale, go wild!)
- 160g sweet potato
- Brown the ground turkey in a nonstick skillet sprayed lightly with oil. Drain. Fill a shallow pan with about 1/2″ of water and bring to a boil, then add the broccolini and let it “pan steam” til finished and bright green. Bring an oven to 450 degrees and roast sweet potatoes, cut cross-wise into 1/2″ thick medallions, for 45 minutes or until incredibly soft. Assemble! (And by assemble, I mean make it look cute on a plate like the photo but then mash up the potato with a fork and mix it all up til it looks gross).
- 357 cal / 9g fat / 35g protein / 35g carbs
- I also eat literally the same meal formula but with Aidell’s chicken sausage! This time, it’s the Cajun andouille flavor.
- 2 Aidell’s Cajun andouille chicken sausages
- 35g raw kale
- 90g sweet potato (roasted as above, til super sweet)
- 414 cal / 22g fat / 32g protein / 23g carbohydrates
- Burrito bowls are also a staple for me. No exact macros here since they vary a bit each time depending on the ingredients, but I usually like to include things like:
- Brown rice
- Chicken breast tenderloin (baked in the oven or pan seared with spray oil)
- Black beans
- Steamed bell peppers
- Roasted red onion (seriously if you’ve never done this, do it. Get a pan REALLY hot and bake them at 350 til they get a bit charred … takes all the sharp “bite” out and they’re delicious!)
- Cilantro & lime for flavor
- Maybe a little cheese or sour cream on top to finish!
- Tortilla roll-ups if I’m feeling very lazy, are an easy thing to take to lunch.
- 6 ounces of turkey breast (I like Hormel Natural Oven Roasted)
- 3 fajita-size flour tortillas
- Baby greens or lettuce as desired
- 2 T honey mustard for dipping
- 472 cal / 19g fat / 37g protein / 34g carbohydrates
I eat very late (like … 9-10 pm) due to my schedule – hence “deadlifts for dinner”! I go to Crossfit from 7:30 – 8:30 or 9ish, then come home and heat up dinner. Depending on how much assembly is required, dinner can really drag on! So I try to do minimal prep required, but things have a bit more effort cause I can throw things together at home.
My dinners aren’t as “formulaic” as lunch, so I don’t have any strict go-to meals, but I do tend to eat things like steak more frequently at home! So below are just some examples of what I like to have for dinner:
- Salmon! This here was roasted salmon with a quick spray of avocado oil, with steamed broccoli, brown rice, and a generous sprinkle of sea salt and molasses for flavor. I absolutely love molasses with salmon!
- Pan seared steak with rotini pasta (I like plain pasta) and a quick salad of spring greens, fresh dill, shaved fennel bulb (and some fennel fronds), and sea salt, black pepper, honey, and avocado oil to dress. The steak juice gets all over the pasta and greens and makes everything a little extra, too!
- Baked cod is a new favorite! I don’t think I’ve ever made it at home before, but now I’m hooked. It tastes like it’s already been covered in butter (which I still added a bit of anyway). Then a bit of plain rotini again and some steamed green beans. This was way more delicious than it looks!
- Fajita tacos are one of my favorites for dinner! These have pan seared steak, black beans, steamed green peppers, and a bit of sriracha. Simple but super tasty!
Probably not the most exciting meal plan you’ve ever seen, but hey, we all eat differently. I’m quite fascinated by the things other people eat – there’s so much layered into the food decisions we make, that have to do with foods we ate (now nostalgically) as a child growing up, to places we’ve lived and just what we actually know how to make. I love seeing what other people eat (and I save a TON of meal ideas on Instagram)!
What are your go-to meals? I’d love to try them out – clearly I need some new ideas to keep myself excited while working with my nutrition coach! I am now 4 weeks in, and loving it. An update will be coming soon!