How to Prep 101 - The Lazy Chef Jo Way

If you follow any fitness professional, anyone who is looking to make a lifestyle change or lose weight, you'll most likely see their meal prep photos every weekend. Prepping your meals in advance can help anyone countless of ways, including weight loss, muscle gain, productivity increase, and so on.  

In the beginning, this can seem like a daunting task but if it's done right, it can take no more than 3 hours, front to back. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and will become a habit and part of your life if you allow it. Here are 7 must do's to prep your way to success, the lazy Jo way. 

1. Recipe Search. Find the recipes you want to use for the week. I don't think of food in terms of breakfast, lunch, dinner, but rather meal 1, 2, 3, etc. I will easily eat eggs at night or chicken before noon, but that's just me. I do make sure I have something to grab in the early mornings like a no bake bar or a shake. Choose what will work best for you. My go to sites: Whole Foods, Cookinglight.com, Skinnyms.com, Pinterest

2. Make your shopping list according to the store layout. I'm a total New Yorker when I shop (like I drive). I want to get from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible and make the most of my time. I always go in on the produce side, and work my way through. My list starts with veggies, then organic section, meats, dairy, and out. Another great option is even better planning - PeaPod pickup or delivery. This requires at least 24 hour preparation. I have yet to try the new scanning option, but apparently you can scan and bag as you go now and just pay at the end! Sounds awesome to me! 

3. Prep immediately after shopping. Generally speaking, if you don't start immediately, you won't do it at all, or you won't prep as much. Plan to spend a couple hours getting it done now. 

4. Work efficiently in the kitchen. I am a multi-tasking queen in the kitchen. I read over my recipes first, and chop all my veggies together. Then I divide and conquer. The first recipe is in the oven, on the stove, and in the crock pot within 30 minutes. TIP: Put on your fave tunes and get in a rhythm. Have fun with it!

5. Find a calorie tracking app you like. There's nothing better than an app that will do your math for you. I like MyFitnessPal. I can create my own recipes on here, and add the ingredients with a barcode scanner or manually. Either option is great and efficient. 

6. Track as you go. I don't stop after each item, but as I'm getting close to finishing a recipe or while the food processor is on, I start adding my ingredients. 

7. Practice! Allow yourself to suck at this for a little while. It WILL get easier. Choose simple recipes in the beginning. Don't overwhelm yourself. Here's an easy recipe from yesterday. Once you're done, divide into appropriate containers, and don't forget your food at home! :) 

Mini Meatloaf Peppers

I am far from a chef, but I do a hell of a job finding recipes online and butchering them and making my own (aka the lazy chef Jo way). I found this recipe and basically followed it to a tee because it was pretty easy. 

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 4 large bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange)
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup Italian bread crumbs - I used Aleia's GF Panko Crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan - I used Belgioioso fresh grated parm
  • A pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

I made 2 small changes: I did not cut the peppers in rings, but instead in half, and I did not ad extra cheese on top. I also cooked them a little longer since I had more meat than the rings. It was really easy to follow! Here are the step by step instructions as per the original recipe and my photos. 

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.  Prepare peppers by slicing off a little of the top of each pepper, and cleaning them out.  Slice in half. 

2. Prepare meatloaf mix: Mix ground beef with seasoning, bread crumbs, egg, Parmesan, red pepper flakes, and garlic. 

3. Evenly stuff each pepper with meat mixture leaving a dome of the mixture on top of each pepper.

4. Brown each stuffed pepper ring for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. You may need to do this in 2 batches depending on the size of your pot.

5. Once, browned on each side, pour crushed tomatoes over the stuffed pepper rings. (Transfer to casserole dish before topping with crushed tomatoes if you do not have an oven-safe pot.)

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes. Top with fresh parsley and serve.

 

Mini Meatloaf Peppers

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INGREDIENTS: 

  • 4 large bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange)
  • 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup Italian bread crumbs - I used Aleia's GF Panko Crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan - I used Belgioioso fresh grated parm
  • A pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Italian seasoning to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  1. Prepare peppers by slicing off a little of the top of each pepper, and cleaning them out.  Slice in half. 
  2. Prepare meatloaf mix: Mix ground beef with seasoning, bread crumbs, egg, Parmesan, red pepper flakes, and garlic. 
  3. Evenly stuff each pepper with meat mixture leaving a dome of the mixture on top of each pepper.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe pot over medium-high heat. (If you do not have an oven-safe pot, you will just transfer them into a casserole dish to bake later).
  5. Brown each stuffed pepper ring for about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. You may need to do this in 2 batches depending on the size of your pot.
  6. Once, browned on each side, pour crushed tomatoes over the stuffed pepper rings. (Transfer to casserole dish before topping with crushed tomatoes if you do not have an oven-safe pot.)
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes. Top with fresh parsley and serve.