I feel like this makes me a bit of a hipster caricature, but I put all my prepped meals in jars this week, and it's a game changer.
I started down the mason jar rabbit hole for a couple of reasons:
- It's eco-friendly. Glass is far better for the biosphere than plastic.
- It's inexpensive. A flat of glass mason jars in the quart size cost me $15. That's the cost of 2 big Pyrex glass Tupperware dishes.
- It's easy to portion out your meals by day, which is good if you're practicing portion control (though you still gotta be mindful and adjust to your needs that day, natch), but also nice for your coworkers, that are tired of shoving your huge bag o' food over when they want to put their cute bento box on the shelf.
- Mason Jar Salads. They are the best. I am a convert. The end.
Okay, no, I'm not really done.
The biggest reason I started putting everything in jars is I realized last week that I make everything too damn hard. When I start trying to do something, I'm all in. I don't just try to start going to the gym again -- I sign up for CrossFit. I don't just try Weight Watchers or messing with portion sizes -- I do a Whole30 and multiple nutrition challenges. Soon, I'm going to become a marathon meditator and sleep in a cryogenic tube or whatever too.
That last one's a joke of course, but I had a week where I was so stressed out and burned that I just thought, "I can't do this anymore. I just have no mojo for food prep or any of it."
So I decided to make everything a whole lot simpler.
Instead of cooking crazy complicated Paleo meals (as delicious as they may be), I decided to focus on recipes that were mostly whole foods, and pretty simple to make. Not too long ago, my friend Lacy did a really awesome program called Reset and Restore, where she created a whole foods vegan meal plan for two weeks. My breakfast and smoothie recipes are from that program: Mango Lassi Overnight Oats, and the Blueberry Kale Smoothie. They're not my recipes and they're not published online, so I can't share them. However, similar recipes may be in the Super Tasty Cookbook, so check that out if you have a second.
The mason jar salad I made this week I can share however. It's this one: Zucchini "Pasta" Salad with Spinach Avocado Dressing. People, it is off the damn hook. The layering really does keep everything fresh. The dressing on this is off the charts, so be sure to make it. It can easily be made vegan (omit the feta) or omnivore (add a meat - I picked rotisserie chicken to get more protein).
To make the zucchini "noodles" get yo'self a spiral slicer. I bought this one for under 10 bucks on Amazon. It's magic, and a nice way to mix it up from eating lettuce all the time. I really like the texture of the salad with the dressing and the thin ribbons of zucchini. You'd think I'd get bored eating the same dang thing day in day out, but nope. This salad is bomb.
One last note, smoothies with protein powder (I use Vega Sport) right after my workout are changing everything. I used to get the post-WOD hangries, but this week, no more! I basically have a mini meal right after working out, and get in a bunch of micronutrients from the kale, blueberries, banana, etc., plus the protein, which is delicious and feels really good. On days where I lift heavy, I also eat a Larabar about an hour before I show up at the box. No surprise: I do better at my workouts, and recover better with this strategy. Who knew I was being such a dummy all along? Well, now I know better.
Seriously, all the food prep for this took about two hours tops, and I made all my meals (except dinner) for the whole week. I froze the smoothies and let them chill out in the fridge the day I wanna drink them. Everything else did fine in the fridge until I was ready to put it in my piehole.
Give it a try! No regrets.