Monday, August 27, 2012

Meal Prep...well, preparation in general. Oh, and Hot Wings!

Guy asked a great question;

 "how long does it take you on avg to prepare a weeks meals? "

When it comes to meal prep, I know I'm lucky in the fact that I don't have a 9-5, and I only have myself, while the foods I make will account fot 50% of Mark's meals.

Mark makes his own stir fry every afternoon, and eats at a favorite BBQ place or maybe some sushi a few times a week.  Mark eats the same basic food/meals every single day, and even his "off" day every week he'll spend having breakfast out with his training partners on Sat..

That being said I never eat out. If I forget to take something with me I may stop for some snacky kind of stuff.  A piece of fruit, a piece of candy, a cup of coffee.  And although I never "eat out" the only other time I purchase food is when one of the good markets is grilling meats and I'll pick up a big piece of protein, usually beef to take home, slice up and use for dinner and lunches that I prepare.

OK, so when I did have a job outside of my home I pretty much took the better part of Sunday to shop, prep and cook.  Sunday was yoga, Farmers' Market, food prep (wash, bag, measure), and usually put together a big salad, and one type of hot meal like a soup/stew, both types of meals started with #1 veg, #2 protein, #3 fat/sugar/flavor, #4 carb (bean/rice/grain, etc).  That's why I really like things that will last in the fridge for at least 5 days.  My other two regular meals were oatmeal, and a lunchtime smoothie (the smoothie on days I didn't work because I only like smoothies made in the blender!).  Oh, and I always had an apple every day.

Since I worked in a Salon, my other regular day off was Monday.  So what ever I did not get done on Sunday would be finished on Monday.  The equivalent of a Sat/Sun for most people.  Mark and I were never people to schedule or book socializing over a weekend so not filling our days off with birthday parties, dinners out, BBQ's/games, or even Holiday get togethers.  That made/makes it much easier to not be tempted or triggered to eat foods I really didn't want to.

Sure, I went "off" my diet with odds and ends, especially working in a Salon with candy dishes on every station and pot lucks every other week! And, sweets, like candy and cookies, were definitely "trigger" foods at the time so it was not unusual to have what I would consider, looking back and remembering, little binges (or big ones!).  Which is besides the point, but I thought I'd share!  The point is that I always had my lunch/dinner with me.  I established the habit of packing my foods/meals as well as preparing them.

Now I cook every morning I'm home.  For instance, yesterday, Sunday, I made a big pot of lamb stew with spinach and tomatoes.  It will be at least 3 meals.  I soft boiled a dozen eggs (one of my favorite snacks these days), and washed and dried the veggies I got at the FM after yoga. This morning (after I get some stuff done on the computer) I will make my favorite salad, enough for at least 4 days.  I might roast some corn because it takes 5 minutes, some baby summer squash and sweet onions, and I'll probably cut up a melon.  I marinated some chicken wings yesterday and when I get home this afternoon I'll bake them.

I love doing food prep early, the earlier in the morning the better! (it's not unusual for me to throw a pot of stew in the PC at 4:30am, before I train at 5:30am!)  I'm never hungry in the morning, in fact I'm less than hungry, if it's possible!  I have Monday morning, and up until recently Wed/Fri mornings too.  Now my schedule is changing and so I'll find ways to adjust.  Food prep is easy for me. I never find it a chore or a drag, it's kind of like a game to me.  Kind of like Tetris!  Planning, arranging all of the elements so they fit exactly in the right places.

The other time I may spend doing meal prep is after dinner (around 5:30-7:00pm).  This is usually the time I'm cleaning the kitchen at the end of the day.  I go through the fridge, see what needs attention, condense leftovers, pack for the next day, make lists for what I need, soak beans, etc.

This time of year the fruit choices are "off the hook"!  As much as I think I'm not going to, I find myself eating fruit as an entire meal!  And we all know fruit takes no prep except for a quick rinse. figs are making their second appearance, so a basket and 1/2 was my lunch yesterday, AFTER 2 nectarines I bought at the FM around 12:00 noon!  And if that wasn't weird enough, my next meal was an orange honeydew melon.  Dinner was 3 eggs, and some sliced steak, maybe 4-5 oz.  I finished the night with a handful of Mark's macadamia nuts.  Highly unusual way of eating, but after so much fruit I needed protein more that anything else, and the nuts?  Well, I confess, that was just boredom at the end of the night.

(Just FYI, Saturday I had a protein bar, yep, you read it right!  I had a last minute cancellation that left me with 30 minutes of realizing I was starting to get hungry!  Without food with me I went next door to the CVS and ended buying a protein bar instead of a candy bar....  A big salad when I got home with grilled chicken I picked up from the market grill, and then I went to a party and had 2 big ole pieces of cake!  Corner pieces with all the frosting!  To be perfectly honest, I was not expecting cake to be served and hadn't planned for it at all.  I would have never chose to eat a protein bar earlier in the day, or I would have been better prepared and left the party before the cake was served!  That was at 3:00 in the afternoon, and it pretty much cured me of wanting to eat anything else the rest of the day. I didn't eat again until the next day at the FM I when ate 2 nectarines)

Today I will have my salad, lots of veg and black beans and sliced beef steak.  I may have some yogurt and corn/blueberries, or I've been thinking about oatmeal again lately.  I'll have my chicken wings for dinner.  I'll pretty much pack the same foods for lunch away from home tomorrow, but with eggs to eat about an hour before the last class I teach at 11:00am.  I'm not planning anything fancy the rest of the week...oh, I do think I may test out the flan I made in the PC again this morning....

My favorite way of making Chicken Wings

2-3 lbs chicken wings
favorite hot sauce, or hot wing sauce

Check your favorite hot sauce/wing sauce for sodium content, you would be amazed at the differences!  Hot sauces are basically hot peppers and vinegar, maybe tomato paste, garlic, etc.  Other ingredients may include salt and sugar/molasses, just check.  If the sodium content is really low I season my wings with salt and then put them in a bag or a bowl with sauce.  I never trip out about how long to marinate!  If it's a couple of hours or two days!  The wings are baked with the sauce on them so it doesn't matter all that much!  What I like is how I cook them!

Place in a baking sheet in a 250 degree oven for 1 hour (lightly greased).  Turn oven up to 375 degree and continue for an additional 30 minutes.  That's it.

What I like most about this method is two things.  #1 you can take them cold out of the fridge and right into the oven.  #2 I take a nap for an hour while they are cooking at 250 degrees! When I get up I turn the oven up and in 30 minutes I have perfect hot wings!  Yay!  Just in time for dinner!

PS  Mark's daily meal.  Coffee/cream.  Nuts/protein drink/green tea until he gets home around 1:00.  Stir fry of 3 eggs, onion, spinach, bok choy, garlic, swiss cheese.  Yogurt with coconut. A dessert of some sort like an ice cream sandwich, a danish or cookie that I've picked up for him, but never more than one.  Dinner will be soup or stew that I've made, or something prepared outside of our home.  Maybe another yogurt?  A couple of glasses of red wine, and more nuts or a bowl of Corn Flakes w/milk before bed.  It's basically the same 365!


fred from nashville said...

im hollerin for you tracy.... bring out a cookbook!!i even bought a pressure cooker cuz of you! you are the best!

Tracy Reifkind said...


Funny! I've actually started a blog that I haven't made public yet. But after meeting Laura Pazzaglia last week I'm inspired again!

Alison and Larry said...

Food prep - not so easy for all us, but "When I find myself whining internally about having to cook, I find the following phrase to be useful: “Suck it up, buttercup.”) I remind myself that I do all kinds of things that aren’t fun in the name of living a reasonably mature life." from:

Tracy Reifkind said...

Alison and Larry,

I'm so sorry you feel that way and have bought into the ideas this writer shares.

Coming from a non cooking background I can honestly say that I love cooking and preparing my own foods and if given the choice I would always make my own. Even if that meant I could never buy anything pre prepared, not even ice cream!

This particular sentence from this article,

"I no longer fret over what fabulous recipe I’ll make."

has part of it right. There is way too much emphasis on "fabulous recipes" and "gourmet cooking". Food snobbery is at an all time high with no end in sight. Food snobbery, in my opinion, is the real culprit.

In fact I should write more about this....thanks for sharing this article. Hopefully when I get a chance to express more of my take on it you'll maybe see food prep differently.

AND, I agree with your comment that food prep is not easy for everybody....but there's a reason why, and it's not like you can't change it if it was important to you.

It's kind of like when people tell me the same thing about exercise, "Well, it's easy for you!" Really?...."suck it up, buttercup"!

Mark Reifkind said...

Alison and Larry,

I worked in restaurants for years, mainly as a prep cook and short order line cook and I LOVE(D) prep work.

To me it there is a meditative quality to food prep that always puts me in a good state of mind.

It reminds me of one of my favorite books " Chop wood, carry water" about the Zen like state that everyday tasks, like food prep, can lead us to.

So many of us search high and low for the the "answer" when it is right here in front of us, everday, all day.

Chop wood, swing a bell or, as Tracy says "cut an onion".

Look at it like it's a drag and it will be :))

Mark Reifkind said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat Carroll said...

Love prep. It is a zen joy.
For wings, I follow my culinary school recipe: hot sauce and butter, 1/1, 2/1 whatever.
Just read this piece about cooking as a chore and can't relate. It is work you do for yourself and your family. As Emeril says, it's the food of love.

Diana said...

LOVE Tetris!! I won't play though because I never stop!

Question: Do you ever see any of the folks you used to work with in the salon? If so, do they treat you differently now that you, obviously, look different? I lost a few "friends" when I started to look better.....most definitely, "their" loss NOT mine!
Just wondering....

Mahda16 said...

I'm following your blog because I just started with kettlebells about 3-4 months ago and I LOVE them. I'm 57 and have found them to be perfect for me at my age.....and since both my husband and I try to eat well (not always) your food thoughts are great to follow...

guy said...

My question answered, thanks again BossLady!

Maribel said...

I have a love/hate relationship with food prep. When I love it, omg, I loooove it. It's like Mark said "zen". When I hate it, I hate it so much. One thing though, when I hate it, I do "fast food" which is plain yogurt with fruit, or cottage cheese with tomatoes S&P, or just plain can of tuna. So, even if it's not your thing, there are still better options.

Tracy Reifkind said...


I've written many times about finding food prep meditating...but dishes? nope! nothing meditative about doing dishes!

Thanks for simplifying a wing recipe. is the butter necessary when the wings have so my fat in the skin making them nice an greasy?

Tracy Reifkind said...


In the beginning I think most people were truly happy for me, and because it was "new" I don't think many believed it would be permanent. I can't say that anybody treated me differently because I quit my profession soon afterwards and because of that my circle of friends naturally changed slightly.

Tracy Reifkind said...


Welcome, and thank you so much for leaving a comment!

Tracy Reifkind said...


I think food prep done in advance is the best, with a glass of wine is next and at the last minute more difficult!

I don't like falling into the habit of eating what I call "snacks" instead of meals, but I'm plenty guilty of it myself. But there's nothing wrong with a can of tuna every once in a while!