If you have read our "START JERF-ING" blog, you know that Vukoo abides by no food “rules.” Er, except maybe one. It’s our 3S Rule: Simple + Satisfying = Sustainable. Only eating "real"foods that you love, that love you back; that make you feel good while eating them *and* after; and that align with your health intentions.
But, we're human. Eating consistently tight, not perfect can be difficult. For us, that looks like a 90/10 split. But all of us are unique with different levels of passion. Perhaps you are 80/20, 70/30 or you’re not even ‘there’ yet. Zero judgement. #betruetoyou But what we like about this approach is that we leave a 10% zero stress wiggle room, built right in. For those foods that we love that might not align with our intentions when consumed on the reg.
So back to this “rule.” Simplicity is key. It's not always about how tasty or gourmet a meal is; the more time it takes to prepare (including trips to multiple stores to gather obscure ingredients), the less likely we am to do it. Ain’t nobody got time for hours in the kitchen! Well, for many. If that’s what you love, great. But for many, it’s simply not a priority. Now don’t get us wrong, we love to cook. As weird as it may sound, many find it quite therapeutic, actually. We simply do not have hours in the day to spend preparing meals and still have time for all of the other things we need and want to get done.
Many of us don’t “do” recipes, really. Crazy fancy casseroles? Yeah, not so much. Because if you do your best to prioritize quality in terms of your eats, you shouldn’t need to make them into elaborate dishes to make them palatable. And, in case you didn’t know, we’re proponents of JERF around here, choosing to eat foods as close to their natural state as we can. The fewer ingredients, [usually] the better. As always, do your best with what you can afford and with what’s available to you.
What also is not recommended is pre-portion meals. First, many of us don’t have that much Tupperware. Next, we hardly ever portion. Will discuss exceptions here in a sec, but it’s not always about restricting portion size or eating less. It’s about eating more of the right things, more often. And lastly, many of us crave nutritional variety but thats not the case all the time for the passionately determined weight loss goers. Its best to prepare foods as close as you can to eating them (i.e. not chicken, broccoli and rice dumped in a Tupperware on Sunday to be eaten for Friday night’s dinner).
Now that you know everyone has their own way, which isn’t terribly helpful, we are going to show you what you implement into your life to help: batch cook (protein, veggies and carbs), wash/chop/bag veggies and pre-portion snacks; healthy baking, not often.
Let’s break it down.
- Slow cooker chicken. Purchases a big cryovac pack (vacuum pack) of chicken breasts; open it and add it to the crockpot with about an inch of water, then cover and cook on ‘HIGH’ for 4 hours or ‘LOW’ for 8 eight hours. Shred, or leave breasts as intact as possible and shred as you go (this can keep them from drying out if it takes you all week to eat them). Check this post for easy chicken dinner ideas.
- Eggs. Hard-boil a dozen for snacks, or even scramble them in advance with veggies for breakfast on-the-go. Store in Pyrex and all you need to do is reheat. You can use a dozen whole eggs, two small cartons of whites and whatever veggies you may have on hand, that is 5-6 breakfasts depending on the size of the eggs.
- Meat. Sauté all-natural, antibiotic free or pasture-raised ground turkey breast or grass-fed beef or bison.
- Fish. If some fish has limited availability locally, try purchasing it frozen and already packaged (and, it is more affordable). Frozen wild salmon is a popular fav to many and has great benefits when eating it a few times a week. You can defrost in the fridge overnight, and it’s ready to go in no time - 15-18 minutes on 400F.
- Grill. An easy way to cook a lot at once if 1) you have a grill and 2) you have someone in your house who grills. Many of us in Urban areas have neither.
- Convenience options: Canned wild tuna or salmon, chicken sausages, nitrate-free deli meat, Vukoo bars, jerky and high quality protein powder.
VEGETABLES: (tons of convenience here)
- Pre-washed/pre-chopped greens and veggies. Popular favorites include baby kale or spinach, arugula, broccoli slaw, shredded cabbage or shaved brussels. Or wash/chop romaine, cabbage, peppers and onions; also baby cucumbers for snacks.
- Roasted veggies. Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower tossed in high quality (cold-pressed unrefined) olive or MCT oil are some faves. Add sea salt, black pepper (optional), a few garlic cloves and you will not regret. If cruciferous veggies are not your thing, try green beans. Or, roasted spaghetti squash - 400F for 40 minutes.
- Mushrooms, onions and zucchini sautéed in coconut or MCT oil.
- Convenience options (happen to love Whole Foods frozen veggie selection; also Natural Grocers): frozen stir-fry veggies, fire-roasted bell peppers & onions, cauliflower rice; also fresh bagged baby carrots and snap peas for salads or snacks.
- Oats. Pre-portion dry oats into bags for easy grab n’ go or to eliminate a step on busy mornings. Or, grab a big pot and make multiple servings at once. You can even do these in the crockpot. Or, make overnight oats in glass jars.
- Roasted sweet potatoes. Many love these roasted tossed in high quality olive or MCT oil with sea salt or pink Himalayan salt, but you can also steam them. Add parsnips, turnips, beets and/or carrots for variety. Also delicious with fresh herbs (e.g. rosemary, sage, thyme).
- Fruit. We tend not to eat much fruit, but if you enjoy it, work it in - berries are a great low-sweet option and you can buy them frozen. Wash a few apples or pears and pair with a handful of nuts or mindful spoonful of nut butter for a quick snack. Or, blend half a banana into your post-workout shake.
- Gluten-free grains. If you choose to eat them, save yourself time and make a big batch at the beginning of the week (e.g. brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, barley, bulgar, barley, teff).
- Convenience options: Vukoo bars, plantain chips
- Pre-portion nuts. A serving size is ~1/4 cup or 1 oz. Many like almonds, but cashews, pistachios or even a nut mix (without all of the chocolate and dried fruit) are fine. Look for raw or dry roasted. You can also buy them pre-portioned or buy in bulk so you’re not stuck with a whole bag of the same thing.
- Veggies. See above.
- Convenience options: Vukoo bars, jerky, gluten-free healthier baked treats like these and these.
And, not really “prep,” per se, but a few ideas…
- Nuts, nut butter
- High quality oils: olive, avocado, coconut, MCT
- Primal & Paleo mayo
- Eggs (eat the yolks!)
- Low sodium salsa
- Coconut aminos or Liquid Braggs’
- No Salt Added Marinara
- Nutritional yeast
That’s it! Cooking for one, we obviously don’t do all of this every week (we're human), but we hope it helps some. It’s neither elaborate, nor hardcore but we can sustain it and it works <=== our ‘perfect’ plan.
Do you meal prep? What are some of your go-to’s? Post a picture of your prep to our Facebook page, or tag us on Instagram (@vukoobar) – we love hearing from you and are all always looking for new ideas that jive with JERF!