The Meal Prep Hack – Meat Potato Vegetable Skillet
If you are serious about getting your results, then you need to meal prep. It does make a HUGE difference when you see 20+ containers in your fridge, labeled for each meal of the week. That way, you will less likely to make excuses to skip meals or opting to eat out due to time constraint.
The least appealing part about meal prepping is that you could easily spend anywhere from 3-5 hours, usually on a weekend, to prepare your meals for the week. While some people do enjoy cooking, many of us, including myself, dislike cooking and would rather spend that time doing fun activities. The tastier and more interesting the meal is, the more time it will take to prep. Buying fresh vegetables, cleaning them, chopping them or worst, when you have to peel potatoes and diced them. That’s just taking too much time!
Luckily, there is an easy and cheaper solution to meal prepping — buy the frozen semi-prepared food! At my favorite grocery store, Trader Joe’s, you can buy refrigerated grilled chicken strips if you do not have the time to grill your own chicken, and you can even buy frozen brown rice — all you need to do is heat/microwave and serve! With all the choices of frozen or refrigerated food, you can easily mix and match to create a well-balanced, nutritious, and delicious meal, like the Meat Potato Vegetable Skillet. I’ve prepped this recipe from scratch using fresh produce before — it took me over an hour to complete. Meanwhile, with this meal prep hack, all you need is 20 min or less, depending on how fast you can brown the meat!
Disclaimer: While buying the frozen semi-prepared food is a time saver and often cheaper than buying fresh produce, these prepackaged food are not perfect. Therefore, it is important for you to read the Nutrition Facts and the ingredient list.
I. Frozen Vegetables. Fortunately for those who rely on convenient bags from the freezer aisle, studies suggest frozen veggies have just as many nutrients (if not more) as their fresh counterparts. For this skillet recipe, I’m using chopped spinach, broccoli, and sliced peppers blend.
II. Frozen Roasted Potatoes. My go-to-product is usually Trader Joes Roasted Potatoes with Peppers & Onions, but occasionally because of time constraints, I purchased Kroger Roasted Redskin Potatoes, since Ralphs/Kroger is just across the street from me. Both products contain some questionable ingredients especially the low-quality vegetable oil (Canola Oil). There are some health risks associated with too much consumption of Canola Oil as it is known to be inflammatory. For anyone with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) including Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, the oil can worsen your symptoms — and I am speaking from experience when my IBS was at its worst. You can always counterbalance the effects of the questionable ingredients by adding anti-inflammatory ingredients like Mediterranean herbs and spices. When you look at the ingredients closely, Trader Joe’s brand is the superior product since it has rosemary, garlic, pepper, sage, etc that are all known for their antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Just to be safe, you can always add more herbs and spices on your own as well.
III. Grass-fed Ground Beef. Do not be fooled by other organic beef that is vegetarian-fed; you should only go for Grass-fed Beef for your health benefits and also the environmental benefits. While it is the general knowledge that animal farming contributes to global warming, studies found that grass-fed beef does the opposite and reduces carbon footprint.
Grass-fed beef may have some heart-health benefits that other types of beef don’t have. When compared with other types of beef, grass-fed beef may have:
- Less total fat
- More heart-healthy and brainpower omega-3 fatty acids
- More conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that’s thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks
- More antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E
Global Farm Animal Production and Global Warming
New Study Finds Grass-Fed Beef Reduces Carbon Footprint
A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef
IV. Herbs and Spices. Because the prepackaged food may contain some questionable ingredients with health risks, you can neutralize the effects and turn your meal into a powerful fuel by adding herbs and spices. These seasonings are known for their anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, while loaded with antioxidants. To learn more about the specific spices and their benefits, you can read it on Anti-inflammatory diet: Most effective foods, herbs, and spices
Preparation (<20 Min)
Place the 2 lbs ground meat in a skillet (preferably a nonstick skillet) and cook over medium-high heat. The most important part of browning ground beef is using a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula to break up the ground beef into equal-size pieces as it cooks. This ensures that all the ground beef pieces cook evenly.
Then add garlic and spices of your choice, when the beef is about 50-75% browned. That way, the aroma and flavor of the herbs will be infused with the meat.
Once the beef has finished browning, turn down the heat to low and you can add your frozen vegetables. I’m adding a cup worth of chopped spinach, a package of “3 peppers & onion blend”, and a cup worth of chopped broccoli. Mix the ingredients together.
Prepare the roasted potatoes separately — you will need either 1.5 or 2 full packages of the potato. You can either bake them (will take longer time), or you can microwave them. Personally, I chose to microwave the potatoes because everything will be refrigerated anyway.
In my experience, I usually can get 6 meals from this preparation. In reference to the Beachbody color-coded containers, there are 2 portions of carbs, 1.5 portions of protein, and 1 portions of vegetables, and 1 spoon of oil, per each individual Tupperware. You can change the portion size according to your diet requirement.