Meal Prep + Grocery Budgeting

Meal Prep. Love it, hate it, love to hate it, all of the above?

Truthfully, I wasn’t a meal prep lover until recently. It’s not that I disliked it; I just didn’t think I had the time and never knew how to prepare veggies without it feeling monotonous and boring throughout the week. And yet there I was, spending at least 30 minutes each meal preparing food and becoming increasingly jealous over everyone’s beautiful meal prep spreads on Instagram (comparison alert, I know, but this one was kinda good!).

Well, I finally decided to give it a try a few weeks ago and I don’t see myself turning back anytime soon. With my weeks becoming increasingly hectic doing two jobs, babysitting part-time, running a blog, and applying to master’s programs, I needed to reorganize my schedule so that I didn’t have to think about what the heck I was going to cook and how long it would take for my next meal.

Meal prep can be as basic or as complicated as you want. It could mean chopping up some raw veggies, organizing your produce that you just stocked up on, prepping some hard-boiled eggs, etc.

For me, the meal prep process is a little extensive (2-3 hours I consider to be extensive, but others may not!), but it’s so worth, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I mean, let’s do the math: 2-3 hours on one Sunday = 14+ meals during the week (I like to make a different brekkie every morning, as you guys can see!)? Not too shabby! Plus, it’s actually a lot of fun when you bring in some jams- I’ve already started on the Christmas music…too soon?

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This week’s meal prep includes: roasted organic turmeric cauli, roasted organic red cabbage, roasted organic turnips + daikon, roasted organic golden beets, roasted organic carrots, organic roasted sun choke, steamed organic Swiss chard, and steamed organic kale. The best part? All of this, and more, cost me only $60 for the week.

Yep, you read that right. 6-0 dollars! And yes, I bought everything organic, including free-range eggs, my favorite dairy-free cream cheese, organic cranberries, and my beloved Eating Evolved midnight dark chocolate.

It’s very easy to go over budget with grocery shopping, especially when buying organic. Here are a few of my key tips for not only shopping within your budget, but also prepping what your hard earned dollars have afforded you!

  1. Get to know your local farmers at your farmer’s markets. This is key! Shopping at a farmer’s market can actually be very cost effective, and when you make friends with the people you’re buying your food from, it can be very beneficial. Plus, it always feels better knowing where your food is coming from and who is actually growing it, directly from the source 😉
  2. Start to familiarize yourself with what’s in season. You’ll start to get the hang of this when you go to the organic stands at farmer’s markets, but in season food will always be less expensive than out of season. It’s also better for our bodies- the food that is in season locally contains the essential vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need to thrive in whichever season it is. I used this site to get started with figuring out what grows when and where!
  3. Write a list. I always try to stick with a list whenever I go shopping. For the fall, I usually choose 1-2 leafy greens, 1-2 starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes, squash), 2-3 other vegetables, 1-2 fruits, eggs, and then I allow myself 1-2 specialty items. This could be your favorite chocolate (ahem, chocoholic), specialty fresh bread, a really good quality nut butter, etc.
  4. Allot yourself 2-3 hours to buy and prepare. I usually give myself a max limit in a farmer’s market (I can spend all day there!) so then I can get home and prep!
  5. Keep the prepping simple. For me, simple is key so that I can spice it up throughout the week! That being said, I’ve learned how to cook to my taste buds. For me, I really like roasted veggies, while others may like steamed, sautéed, or raw. My usual cooking style: sea salt + pepper + turmeric + grass-fed ghee. And I don’t skimp on the ghee! Sometimes I’ll throw in some fresh garlic if I’m feeling fancy, but usually this is how it goes!
  6. Invest in some quality containers. This makes life so much easier, guys! I really love these glass ones (P.S. I’m not an affiliate, I just love them!). Plus glass is better for the environment. Just saying, love your body, but also love your planet!
  7. Put on some tunes or a movie! Meal prepping is a lot more fun when you have a movie going or are jamming out to some music! Lately, I’ve been playing Christmas music because I’m as corny as it gets, but I also sometimes put on an episode of the Office or watch a movie! It makes the time fly by J

I hope this helps in any way! What are your favorite meal prep tips and tricks? I’d love to hear!

Paleo Chicken Salad

Are the days feeling shorter or what!? It’s wayyyy too dark out to go for an early morning run, and now the sun is gone by 7:00 p.m. 😦 So that means that my daylight hours need to be a little bit more productive, i.e. not spent mostly preparing food!

For this week’s meal prep, I needed a solid protein source that I could have all week, was easy to whip together, tasted like fall, and didn’t involve breaking the bank. Thankfully, Whole Foods Market is having a sale this week on organic chicken breast for $4.99/Lb, organic seedless grapes for $1.69/Lb, and 365 Sparkling Water (2 for $6!), so I stocked up on these goods and went to work!

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Honestly, chicken salad is so underrated, and when you throw in some grapes, it’s a whole new level! It’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s a little tangy, and oh so flavorful.

Spread some on a sandwich, scoop a little on top of your fall-themed salad, or smear a little on a paleo baguette like I did here, and you’re good to go!

All you need are these simple ingredients:

Organic chicken breast (prepare how you like- I like mine baked at 400F for 20 minutes with ghee/coconut oil and sea salt/pepper)

Organic Seedless Grapes (red, black, or green are fine!)

Plain coconut yogurt (almond-milk based or grass-fed plain unsweetened Greek yogurt is fine as well if you can do dairy!)

Apple Cider Vinegar

Cumin

Celery

Chives 

Sea Salt/Pepper

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That’s it. I’m a big fan of simple recipes, can you tell? The key ingredient here is apple cider vinegar; it gives it a nice flavorful tang that many people can’t quite put their finger on, but it really makes the dish! It’s also a great party appetizer that’s quick and easy to prepare!

Check out the recipe below, and let me know what you think! I’d love to hear your variations on it as well 🙂

Paleo Chicken Salad

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb organic chicken breast, cooked simple
  • 1 cup organic seedless grapes, sliced
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain coconut yogurt (or almond milk yogurt or grass-fed plain unsweetened Greek yogurt)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 tsp organic ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Slice chicken breasts into cubes and place in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine yogurt with the apple cider vinegar, celery, cumin, chives, and sea salt/pepper until thoroughly mixed.
  3. Pour yogurt mixture onto cubed chicken and mix until evenly coated.
  4. Store in the refrigerator.
  5. Best served cool.

Thank you to Whole Foods for sponsoring this post!

 

Coconut Flour Rosemary Baked Cod

With the leaves finally changing in Brooklyn and the days getting shorter, I’m ready for all of the warming, hearty foods…something cozy and nourishing that fill up my belly and my soul! Thankfully, Whole Foods is having an awesome couple of sales this week, including avocados for $1 (yep, you read that right! STOCK UP!), fresh Atlantic cod for $8.99/lb, and 25% off of body care on Friday, October 6th!

As weird as it may seem, one of my favorite ways to be imaginative with recipes is using the sales at Whole Foods. It just further proves to me that the limit does not exist when it comes to creativity! So what can I make combining cod and avocadoes?

Coconut-flour rosemary crusted baked cod, cauliflower mash, and sautéed Swiss chard, all drizzled in a Thyme-avocado sauce of course!

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Whether you’re a gluten-eater or completely paleo, this dish will satisfy everyone’s cravings, even the pickiest of eaters! Rosemary and thyme are also two of my favorite spices to use during the fall because they make any recipe just that much more lovely.

Along with the stars of the dish (cod, avocado, organic cauliflower, and organic swiss chard), you’ll need to make sure you have these staples on hand:

Organic Coconut Flour

Pastured Organic Eggs 

Turmeric

Rosemary

Thyme

Organic Grass-fed Ghee

Organic Coconut Milk

 I’m also always about not spending ages in the kitchen (only on meal prep days!), so this dinner can be ready within 30 minutes! Pretty good, huh?

Alright kids, I’m going to go throw a big sweater on and cozy up with a good Halloween movie while eating this plate! Let me know if you give it a try J Enjoy!

Coconut-Flour Rosemary Crusted Baked Cod

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Atlantic cod, in 2 fillets
  • ½ cup organic coconut flour
  • 2 pastured organic eggs
  • 2 tbsp organic fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  2. In a small bowl, crack and whisk the eggs. Set aside for the dipping station.
  3. In another small bowl, whisk together the coconut flour, rosemary, turmeric, salt and pepper.
  4. Dip one fillet of cod into the yolk and coat both sides.
  5. Then, move that fillet to the coconut flour mixture and coat both sides.
  6. Repeat steps 4. and 5. for the next fillet.
  7. Lay both fillets on the baking sheet.
  8. Place the baking sheet in the oven and let cook for 15-20 minutes, until the coconut flour starts to brown.
  9. Remove from the oven and serve.

Thyme-Avocado Sauce

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado
  • ¼ cup organic grass-fed ghee, organic coconut oil, or organic EVOO, melted
  • 2 tbsp organic fresh thyme
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend until well combined.
  3. Store in the fridge up to 5 days.

Cauliflower Mash

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 organic head of cauliflower, washed
  • ¾ cup organic full fat coconut milk or nut milk
  • 3 tbsp organic grass-fed ghee
  • Sea salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Using a medium saucepan, pour a little water into the pan and place cauliflower florets inside.
  2. Steam the cauliflower florets on medium-high heat, about 2-5 minutes.
  3. Once the cauliflower is steamed, drain the florets and place them in a high-power blender with the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Puree until smooth.

 

Thank you to Whole Foods for sponsoring this post!

Cinnamon Bun Smoothie Bowl

The leaves are turning. The days are growing shorter. The air has that lovely earthy aroma that warms you from the inside out. Anddddd it’s still hot as summer in NYC.

They ain’t joking about that Indian Summer. It’s a thing!

So while I’m over here trying to build a leaf pile and go frolicking in my flannel and booties, the weather has some other ideas. But I believe you can have your cake and eat it too (actually, if you want to get real precise here, the phrase was originally “you can’t eat your cake and have it too,” but somewhere down the line of language evolution, the two clauses switched…linguistics nerd, can’t help it).

Enter in the cinnamon bun smoothie bowl. All of the delicious and warming flavors of fall in cooling and refreshing smoothie form. Take that, 80-degree heat wave!

Have this bowl as a snack, or throw in some extra collagen to make it a meal, and you’ve covered all your bases!

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What’s in this bowl, you might ask? Cauliflower may think it’s the main star, but I’d say that coconut butter and cinnamon also share the lead role. I also added some sprouted almond milk for extra creaminess (coconut milk would work beautifully here as well), and marine collagen for some staying power. Topped with a few of my seasonal favorites too: roasted acorn squash, pomegranate arils, pecan butter (I love Georgia Grinder’s pecan butter!), and pumpkin seeds of course!

So whip up this smoothie, cool down, and grab a seat as we wait for the crisp autumn weather!

Cinnamon Bun Smoothie Bowl

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup organic steamed then frozen cauliflower
  • ½ tsp organic cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp organic coconut butter (I love Artisana Organics’ coconut butter- the best quality ingredients in all of their butters!)
  • 1 cup sprouted organic almond or coconut milk
  • 1 scoop Wild-Caught Marine Collagen (use code: “bananadiaries” for a discount at Further Food for your collagen!)
  • Optional: ¼ frozen banana or ½ tsp ground stevia leaf (it should be green) for sweetness
  • Toppings: roasted acorn squash, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, your favorite nut butter

Directions:

  • Place cauliflower and milk in a blend and process until completely smooth.
  • Add in cinnamon, coconut butter, collagen, and sweeteners if needed.
  • Blend until completely mixed.
  • Serve and top with your favorite additions!

 

Turmeric Bone Broth Zoodle Soup

The boots are out, the flannels are buttoned up, and the cozy fuzzy socks are on! It’s that time of year again.

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SOUP SEASON. Tomato soup, chicken zoodle soup, chilli, butternut squash soup, the list goes on!

Whether you’re a bit under the weather (like I was last week) or are in need of something warm and yummy, I’ve got you covered with this recipe.

Gut healing, anti-inflammatory Turmeric Bone Broth Zoodle Soup!

This soup was so easy to make and is chock full of goodness for both your body and your mind. Believe me, it was a savior when I was sick the other week. Plus it’s so easy to double or triple to make large quantities for the week!

So take a gander below, and let me know what you think!

Happy sipping!

Turmeric Bone Broth Zoodle Soup

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Bonafide Bone Broth, dethawed (I’ve found this to taste the best, but feel free to make your own or use your favorite brand!)
  • 2 cloves organic garlic, minced
  • ¼ organic onion, chopped
  • 1 cup spiralized organic zucchini (about ½ a medium zucchini)
  • 1 cup organic spinach
  • 4-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tsp ground organic turmeric
  • ½ tsp organic cumin
  • ½ cup chopped organic basil
  • Sea Salt/Pepper to taste
  • ghee/coconut oil for greasing the pot

Directions:

  1. Begin by greasing a medium saucepan with a little ghee/coconut oil and sautee the garlic and onion together.
  2. Once the garlic browns/onions become transparent, add in the spiralized zucchini, spinach, and tomatoes.
  3. Sauté the veggies until cooked, then place them in a small pot.
  4. Add in the bone broth and heat on medium heat.
  5. Stir in the spices (turmeric, cumin, basil, sea salt, and pepper)
  6. Keep stirring until completely mixed, then cover the pot and reduce to a simmer.
  7. Let the soup simmer for about 20-30 minutes (you should begin to check the soup to see if it’s warmed enough around 20 minutes). Add in more salt/pepper if it needs it.
  8. Remove from heat and serve or store in a large container in the fridge for about 3-4 days.

 

 

Chicken and Waffles

Okay, I know I’m going to sound crazy to a lot of people, but I never really liked fried food! I know. I sound like a lunatic. But honestly, fried food tasted like nothing to me if I ever tried it, and I always felt lethargic and tired after eating it.

Some people like the taste of fried food, and honestly, it sounds really good! But for me, it just doesn’t speak to my soul (lol that it’s considered soul food). So I made up my own version of a classic: chicken and waffles! Now this truly does speak to my soul! Crusted in coconut flour and with a sweet potato waffle of course!

Why am I trying to recreate a classic fried dish? Well, I’m not into that whole mentality of recreating your favorite “unhealthy” dishes for the “healthy” version. I think that’s deprivation and a road I do not want to go down. If you crave something, have it, as long as you won’t make yourself feel guilty afterwards (because eating shouldn’t be associated with guilt! Just my opinion J).

But at the same time, I want there to be options for everyone. Maybe you’re like me and don’t like the taste of fried food/have allergies that prevent you from eating it (calling all glutenoids, hit me up!). Maybe you don’t like eating meat off the bone (also like me). Maybe you want to try something new to switch it up! Whatever it may be, this dish can offer it to you.

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Everything on this place was also made within 40 minutes (not including the time to bake the sweet potato- although you could microwave it, but I can’t promise that will taste as good!). It’s so easy to follow, and your taste buds will just be on cloud nine! It’s also scalable- make it for one or make it for 10! I’ll post the ingredients as if it were for one, and then customize to how you see fit! Comfort food at its finest, my friends J

Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

Chicken and Waffles

Ingredients:

Chicken

  • 1 boneless organic chicken breast
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • Salt + Pepper

Sweet Potato Waffles

  • 1 baked sweet potato
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup sautéed onions
  • Salt + Pepper

Directions:

Chicken

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Crack eggs in a small bowl and whisk together.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the turmeric, coconut flour, salt and pepper.
  4. Dip the chicken breast into the yolk and make sure it’s evenly coated.
  5. Quickly transfer the chicken into the coconut flour bowl and coat evenly.
  6. Place chicken on a baking sheet lined with tin foil and bake for 15-18 minutes, checking to make sure it’s cooking thoroughly.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool.

Sweet Potato Waffle

  1. Mash the baked sweet potato (without skin) with egg, onions, and salt/pepper.
  2. Preheat waffle maker and thinly coat with ghee/coconut oil/avocado oil.
  3. Pour batter into the waffle maker and cook according to your waffle maker’s directions.
  4. Remove waffle from waffle maker and top with chicken. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Dairy-Free Pesto

To be honest, I’m still on that travel high from Italy. Over the course of five days, we ate our way through various types of pastas, alfredo, tomato sauces (each one was very different, believe me!), cheeses, and pesto.

Oh. My. Gosh. The pesto. Over gnocchi. To die for.

Well, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the pesto I had while over there, so I had to give it a go myself.

Let me tell you, this one is a keeper!

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Creamy, dreamy, garlicky, cheesy, savory, and reminiscent of a tiny little restaurant tucked away on a street corner, this has got to be one of the easiest and yummiest pesto sauces I’ve made to date!

And guess what? It’s dairy free too! Just an added perk for all of those who can’t tolerate dairy (I try to be accommodating, what can I say!) 🙂 Just take a look below and see what makes it so creamy and cheesy.

Salute!

Dairy-Free Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh organic basil
  • 2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup raw pine nuts
  • ¼ avocado
  • ½ garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate. Spread over bread, use as a pasta sauce, or add some vinegar and stir to make a vinaigrette!