1-hour meal prep | why I’m done doing

PALEO | WHOLE30 | DAIRY-FREE | GLUTEN-FREE

On a normal weekend, when we’re home, I probably spend 5 hours preparing food for the week ahead. That’s half of a weekend day! Of course, that doesn’t factor in the time spent planning the meals, buying the ingredients, etc.

I love cooking, and I love grocery shopping, so on one hand, this is my me time, a time to do the things I love. Alex spends his Sundays watching football, and I spend my Sundays cooking. It’s a win-win. Meal prepping helps us make healthy choices throughout the week, and allows us to spend less time in the kitchen during busy weeknights (so we have time for other things, like other hobbies, friends, errands, and workouts).

On the other hand, the way I approach this habit takes the free time out of my me time. There are millions of ways to enjoy this love of mine without turning it into such a industrial-scale production that leaves me spent and unable to relax.

why I’m done doing

Something I’ve been very aware of lately is the fact that I am well on my way toward doing myself to death. 5 hour meal preps are just the beginning. It’s the last minute dinners with friends that I insist on making into elaborate dinner parties.

It’s the days I’m low on sleep and energy when I insist on getting in a big workout, and cooking a big dinner, and making sure our apartment is spotless before I go to bed.

It’s spending lunch breaks and brain breaks at work doing — planning and writing blog posts, working on side projects, etc. — instead of taking breaks. 

I’m exhausted, and it’s entirely due to things I have put (quite literally) on my own plate.

That’s why I’m charging myself with the ambitious challenge of doing less: Finding ways to live my values (health, love, balance) without sacrificing my sanity. Spending more time being and less time doing. 

Part of that effort involves simplifying my approach to food, and realizing that it doesn’t always have to be a production in order to be good, wholesome, and made with love.

Less labor, more love.

1 hour meal prep: can it be done?

Since we were gone this weekend at a wedding (see my Instagram for more pics), I had no choice but to pare down my meal prep into a short, reasonable, less labor-intensive timeframe. Here was the plan: Make a few easy meal components that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of healthy, exciting meals.

With simple recipes, a few ingredient shortcuts, and some essential kitchen tools (#slowcooker), this meal prep shouldn’t take longer than an hour, clean-up included. The pork cooks for several hours, but requires no effort after you’ve dumped it in the crockpot. Freedom. 

So this weekend, devote an hour to creating these easy, healthy recipes, and spend the rest of it relaxing with the people you love. ❤

Meal prep feeds 2 people for 4-5 days.

prep agenda

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Roasted salt and pepper butternut squash
  • Cooked spaghetti squash
  • Paleo slow-cooker spiced pork
  • Lemon vinaigrette

meal ideas

  • breakfast: hard-boiled eggs, roasted butternut squash, avocado
  • breakfast: chopped hard-boiled eggs and avocados
  • breakfast: pulled pork, spaghetti squash, poached egg, avocado
  • lunch/dinner: pulled pork tacos with avocado, tomatoes, limes
  • lunch dinner: spring mix salad with pulled pork, chopped tomatoes
  • lunch/dinner: pulled pork over spaghetti squash

grocery list

  • 2 dozen cage-free eggs
  • 2 large butternut squash, or 2-3 lbs. pre-cubed butter squash
  • 2 large spaghetti squash
  • 5-6 lb. pork shoulder
  • 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup good ketchup (I love Sir Kensington’s)
  • 1 cup dijon mustard
  • 2 limes
  • 4 lemons
  • bunch of cilantro
  • large container of spring mix/spinach
  • paleo, corn, or sprouted grain tortillas (or lettuce wraps for Whole30)
  • 2-3 avocados
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • other: fruits of choices as side dishes, Greek yogurts (if not dairy-free)

pantry ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. dry mustard
  • salt
  • pepper
  • white vinegar
  • EVOO

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Start pork: Follow this recipe fully to get the pork started.
  2. Cook spaghetti squash: With a large knife, poke holes in the spaghetti squash. Put it on a plate, pop it in the microwave, and cook it for 8-10 minutes until you can easily stick a fork all the way through it. Scoop out the seeds, then use a fork to get all the “spaghetti” out. Put in a container and place in the fridge.
  3. Roast butternut squash: Preheat oven to 400. If your squash is pre-cubed, toss it in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake on a cookie sheet, tossing occasionally. If it’s not pre-cubed, follow these instructions to cube it.
  4. Hard-boil eggs: Place 18-20 eggs in a large pot, cover with cold water, add a splash of white vinegar, and a hefty sprinkle of salt. Bring to a rolling boil, then remove from heat and cover with a lid. Let the eggs sit for about 13 minutes, then peel them.
  5. Make salad dressing: Juice 4 lemons into a glass or jar. Pour 2-3 times more olive oil than you have lemon juice into the glass. Add a hefty pinch of salt and a few turns of black pepper. Whisk together with a fork, then taste and adjust salt as needed.
  6. You’re done!

 

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