Hey there folks!
First I am still alive and well! Second I have been continuing to focus on being the best me that I can be. Having always struggled with my weight that has been a focus of the past couple of years. Loosing weight in a healthy doable way. I joined Weight Watchers almost 4 years ago. The first six months I lost 40 lb! Then I stopped really working at it…and gained most of it back. I decided to take it seriously and really make lifestyle changes that I was learning about. It is a slow process for me, but I have lost over 30lbs again…and am making that work with a job, a husband, a family.
So I can’t stick with things that are restrictive. I like to feel like a free spirit- yet I need plans…like set in stone in order to feel free. I know that is crazy…but it is who I am. So part of how I made a transition from “dieting” to changing my actual real lifestyle is that I meal prep and plan. Now this is something that I make work with my Weight Watchers journey…but it can work with any nutritional plan, or just any busy household.
So what the heck is the meal plan/prep like a former kitchen dog mean anyway? What the heck is a kitchen dog?! Why is this crazy chubby blogger talking like a crazy person? Well to start meal planning and prep are techniques that anyone can use to make getting food on the table (and in lunch boxes) a no brainer. Planning and prepping meals also really helps if you are on a tight budget, or simply just want to track what you are spending on food. If you are on a plan of any kind that you want to stay within a criteria for your daily food intake prepping is essential to sanity in my opinion. So now about the Kitchen Dog thing…that my friends is what most of us former kitchen staff and line cooks call ourselves. I didn’t attend culinary school so I do not have the right to call myself a chef- nor would I. I do have a vast amount of experience though in restaurants and catering from while I was trying to decide if I wanted to go back to school in a culinary program after an unhappy couple of years just working in my chosen field and general office work. That my friends is why I refer to myself as an Old Kitchen Dog. I have it in my soul- but for a variety of reasons I walked away from the industry. That is the subject of a whole other blog one day…
So once you have professional kitchen in your blood-it is with you for life. I kept struggling to figure out how to make eating healthier work for me. I know how to cook and have the actual tools…I have recipes at my finger tips…but actually getting it done every day seemed like a never ending cycle of cook, store, clean…rinse and repeat. It got to the point that I was enjoying cooking less and less and that made me sad. It has been a hobby since about age 11. So I bought more and more pre- made items and just got off the plan more and more that I know works for me if I do it. Through a conversation with my Dad (also an old kitchen dog) I realized that I was making it hard for no reason. I could prep food for the week just like we did in the restaurants…it would allow me to just heat and eat dinners and lunches- I would not waste as much food to spoilage…and I can use the skill and love that I have for cooking to make it all happen in the least amount of time and for the least amount of effort.
I started off just cooking up meats for the week. That worked pretty well- grill a bunch of chicken breasts on Sunday or make a crock pot full of chicken or lean pork chops. Then as the week rolls along just make some quick side dishes or salads to go with the different meats. I still do this often- especially when the weather is nice and I can load up the grill. Some weeks I do “assembly meals” or theme weeks. With the theme weeks we pick a theme for the week and I make the different elements ahead of time that are assembled into different meals. For example Mexican/Tex-Mex (see below).
Tex-Mex Week: What I do on Sunday
- Cook chicken breast then shred and season as well as ground lean turkey (same)
- Cut all veggies needed in Mexican favorites- white onion, green onions, jalapeno’s tomatoes, cilantro, and limes, lettuce shredded, cabbage shredded
- Make large batch of cilantro lime rice or Spanish rice
- Make sure to have on hand- sour cream or Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, salsa’s and other sauces, diced chili’s, black beans…
- Make sure to have corn tortilla’s, hard taco shells, soft taco shells and or any other delivery system for Mexican goodness that you prefer. Try to have more than one option though.
Once you have your elements prepped you can build all the Tex Mex dishes you like..burrito bowls, burritos, taco salads, soft or crunchy tacos, tostadas…the options are basically like a giant tub of Tex Mex legos that you assemble into whatever you like (this is nice with families as well because several different dishes can be had by several different family members without any extra work).
If you are on a nutrition plan…just record somewhere what the serving size is for each element that you have prepared…and then whatever information you need. Calories, carbs, smart points, protein gr…whatever you in particular need or want to know…that way when you are assembling each meal you know what you are putting in your body. Now if you are not watching any nutritional concerns you don’t need to record any of it…just assemble as you go and enjoy. 🙂