I mentioned last week that Meal Prep helped me lose weight last year. Once I met Hubba Hubby and we began cohabiting though, I had to adjust my meal prep to include him and his goals (to be clear: I wanted and continue to want to make his lunches, though he tells me all the time that I don’t “have to” — this is one of the ways my family showed love growing up, and it continues to be one of my main love-languages; I cook/provide nourishment in the form of delicious food for those I love or care about greatly).
That proved rather difficult initially so my weight loss stagnated though I’m proud to say that neither of us gained weight during the beginning of our relationship, something that many people experience. I managed to eat intuitively and stopped tracking calories, but mostly my weight loss leveled off and I was stuck. Part of the problem was how I’d gotten used to making one big batch of something, and dividing it into equal portions to calculate the calories. Since I was serving him larger portions of what I cooked, and way too lazy to weigh out the portions, I didn’t have a good measure. Plus his nutrition goals were so different from mine! He is a protein-heavy eater (particularly animal flesh), while I’m light-to-moderate on protein from animals. He will eat some veggies (slight exaggeration; he has a preference for some veggies, but would be happy without eating any, BUT will eat any/almost all vegetables that I make); I love nearly all vegetables and am happy munching away on them. He avoids carbs regularly; I avoid excess carbs but I am happy to eat them as long as they fit my calories.
While I was able to keep both of us fed with mostly healthful choices, as I said our weight loss stagnated. Just as I was about to make an overhaul – I was playing with making different lunch for each of us every week – I lost my job, which means now I only make his lunches. (Again, because I want to – please don’t come at me with ultra-feminist ideas.)
To keep my sanity and his interest, though, I’ve found two things super helpful: the slow cooker!! and trying to keep things ‘international’ in flavor.
Right now, what I’ve been keeping in rotation…
Japanese Curry – this actually isn’t a slow cooker recipe at all, but something I’ve been making for well over 10 years. It’s a bit of a cheat – if you look at the link, I have adapted my method many times over the years now. Sometimes I add apple, sometimes I use fresh veggies, sometimes I use frozen, whatever’s on hand. I mix up the fresh vegetables based on what’s on hand, but my staples include carrots, onion, and celery. I prefer the Vermont Apple Curry medium hot, though I will buy what’s on sale sometimes and experiment — I’ve also liked the java curry but I don’t always see that one in stock.
“Mexican” – taco chili or chicken burrito bowls – this is much like something I was making myself when I was losing weight, though I wasn’t using the slow cooker and instead cooking the chicken in chunks. While the recipes both call for chicken breast, you can certainly use chicken thighs for more fat/flavor/happiness! I riff on both recipes, but the 2nd is definitely easier prep than the first – if only marginally.
Chicken Tikka Masala – Hubba Hubby LOVES Indian food, so he was pretty happy when I found this recipe. It’s super easy — there are different options in the link that give you the ‘easy’ route vs. the more involved route, so you can choose your own adventure so to speak, but I haven’t had any downside from using the ‘easy’ route. The garam masala spice blend was just something purchased at a random store, so no figuring out Indian spices either!
Lamb Tagine – inspired by one of our friends making tagine in his slow cooker, I looked up a couple of recipes and mashed it together with his. I adapted all of these recipes to suit what was in my pantry to limit how much stuff I have to run out and buy, but I’m pretty pleased with how this one tasted – or at least, with how pleased Hubba Hubby was, anyway!
For each of these, I mix up what I serve them with — brown rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa are all popular options to go underneath each dish. I keep the portion size of brown rice low since it’s carb-heavy, but on the side I will sometimes toss naan (purchased at BJ’s or the grocery store) for dipping, I’ve even done tortillas on weeks where I forgot to get naan. My preference, however, is to include a side of vegetables – roasted asparagus right now while it’s springtime (sort of), roasted broccoli or roasted brussels sprouts, all vegetables I know he enjoys and that I can toss a sheetpan in the oven without much fuss while I make other things.
I tend to make these on Sunday, pack them all up and toss the boxes in the fridge. Every morning while we get ready, I take one out and supplement with breakfast yogurt, snacks, etc. and send him on his way with a fun and delicious lunch.
What types of meal prep do you do for the week to help ease your load? How do you use your slow cooker in meal planning? Do you have any recipes for the slow cooker you can recommend to add to our rotation?!