a step toward mindfulness: part four
My eyes have been opened, y’all. Two words for you:
I finally get why this fills my Pinterest feed and everyone talks about it! Meal prep has made our lives so much simpler.
We decided back in January that we wanted to attempt meal prep and see if it was worth it in terms of health benefits, prep in the morning, and financial benefit. The answer to all the above is a resounding yes. Let’s talk about what our meal prep looks like.
For us, we usually make rice, black beans, and chicken and use that as our lunch every day. (Keep reading for the black bean recipe!) We buy a large bag or box of rice (depending on what’s cheap), a bag of uncooked black beans, and a six-pack of chicken breasts; and it lasts us at least two weeks’ worth of lunches.
My husband was definitely more on board than I was. It was actually his idea. He was already used to eating the exact same breakfast every day, and often eats the exact same lunch for days in a row. I wrinkled my nose at the idea at first, thinking I’d need more variety. But I was wrong!
The food itself is very filling and decently healthy. Depending on what kind of rice you get, it has fiber and helps boost your energy. Black beans are rich in fiber and protein. And chicken is chicken: low in fat and high in protein! This basic meal is also really easy to change up if you do need variety in your life. For example, I had sweet potatoes a couple times, once instead of chicken and once with chicken. Another time I skipped the black beans and did stir-fry veggies with a drizzle of sweet and sour sauce.
I usually make the chicken in the crock-pot overnight because it’s incredibly simple that way. We’ve made it with barbecue sauce, a variety of Asian sauces, parmesan garlic sauce, as well as just basic seasonings. Toss the breasts (even if they are still frozen) into the crock-pot and top with your choice of sauces or seasonings. We usually cook three breasts at a time and it lasts us a few lunches. Depending on our schedule, sometimes I’ll take the time to thaw and bake them in the oven; but we usually just pull out the slow cooker.
Speaking of which, if you have never made homemade black beans, you are missing out on both flavor and saving money! This is how I usually make them. Feel free to add additional flavorings if you’d like. It’s hard to ruin this recipe!
Slow-Cooker Black Beans
Prep Time: 10 hours (for soaking), 10 minutes for preparation
Cook time: 6 hours on high, 10 hours on low
What you need:
1 32-oz bag of black beans
1 small onion, diced small
2 tbsp fresh garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
Water or choice of stock (I usually just eyeball it; fill until beans are about 3/4 covered)
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional: hot sauce, chili powder, diced jalapeno or bell peppers
- Soak black beans in water for at least ten hours.
- Drain and rinse black beans completely.
- Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and stir to incorporate.
- Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours, stirring every few hours if you are able.
- Consume within 7-9 days. If not able to consume within that time, freeze in 2-cup amounts, which is roughly how much comes in one can of black beans.
So overall, we have found that meal prep is saving us money, is healthy and filling, and makes our mornings go so much more smoothly because everything is already ready. Meal prep makes our mornings, if you will, more mindful and less stressful.
If you try this out, or you do something different for your meal prep, I’d love to hear about it!