A family friend, doctor and authored expert in the field of nutrigenomics recently urged me to reincorporate grains and legumes back into my diet. And after 5 years of eating like a caveman, my Paleo heart nearly leapt out of its chest! But desperate to find a more balanced way of eating for my health (talking to you, Thyroid and Adrenals!) and my grocery budget, I hesitantly embraced her lunch prescription:
- 3 ounces of lean protein
- 2 cups non-starchy vegetables (raw. If cooked, this means 1 cup)
- 1/2 cup legumes
- 1/3 cup grain
- 1 serving of fruit
- 1 serving of fat (1 tsp olive oil)
A few things I noticed when I began this routine:
- I realized I had missed grains & legumes
- our grocery spending went down
- I felt full longer
- I no longer had the after-lunch munchies
- Or the dip in energy
- Mexican-inspired meals fit this formula very well
So, I began making myself a burrito bowl every day for lunch, which turned into the whole family eating burrito bowls every day for lunch, which turned into me reeeeallly needing a better system for making 7 burrito bowls every.single.afternoon.
Enter the tried and true Bulk Prep! This is so not an original concept and it almost feels silly to write an entire post about it to other people who probably bulk prep as well. However, this little system has been such a time/money/sanity saver that I want to celebrate it in written form!
The following routine takes no more than an hour in the kitchen (including clean up) over the weekend and makes enough for our family of 7 to have lunch 5-6 days out of the week. *Warning: I’m not very exact when it comes to ingredients and measurements, so you’ll have to use this as a loose guide as you figure out how to make it your own!
- Cook 3 pounds of ground organic chicken in a large pan over medium heat and season (I shower mine in cumin, paprika, chili powder, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and any other specialty chili powders I have around. Ancho…chipotle…cayenne etc)
- While chicken cooks, begin cooking grains according to instructions (this week I used winter wheat, but anything like faro, quinoa or brown rice works fine. I measure 3 cups dry)
- Rinse and drain 4 cans of beans and store in container. Can’t beat the prices on organic beans at Costco…and now they DELIVER!!!
- Once chicken is cooked, remove from pan, allow to cool, and then store in container
- Add 3 diced peppers and 3 diced onions to pan and saute until just tender. Let cool and then store in container
- Blend dressing: 1 bunch of cilantro, several cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup hemp seeds, juice from one lime, and enough olive oil to blend into a thick dressing. I love this little concoction as it adds extra protein and healthy fats affordably, which means you don’t have to serve as much chicken in each dish. Cha-ching$
- Clean kitchen and fist pump the air because you are D-O-N-E cooking lunches for the week!
Each day, I measure out all the portions into one big pan and reheat on the stove, then serve over greens or in burritos for the kids (I also pack my office-bound husband’s burrito bowl for the next day at this time.) Sprinkle the dressing on top and some optional salsa (or my current favorite fermented treat from a squeeze bottle↓♥)…. …add a serving of fruit to every plate, remind everyone that eating the same lunch everyday is ok, and enjoy the fact that cooking your entire family a healthy, affordable, well-balanced, hot meal just took only 5 minutes! I know, right?!
*The nutritional formula given to me by our nutrigenomics friend is specific to me and does not necessarily apply to everyone. It takes into account my age, weight, activity level, genetics, family history, and other magical equations I don’t understand. I would guess, though, that this formula might serve as a helpful launching point for those without food intolerances/allergies?
So that’s my latest victory- feeding a small army a big meal on a modest budget. And since the eating never ends and I’m always looking for ideas, please share any tricks and tips that are working for you and your family!