Meal Prep Sunday!

I’m in the kitchen a lot. Especially now during quarantine. I balance work, exercise and my Classy Nerds endeavors like everyone else balances their respective daily lives. Something I’ve learned to also balance over the years is meal prep. I would much rather get my meals planned and out of the way at one time. People have asked me before, “Manda, how do you meal prep?”. I’ve never really thought about explaining my process until now. So as I get ready for work tomorrow I’m going to walk you through meal prepping with two different meats. You just need a stove, a small saucepan, a skillet and an air fryer (If you don’t have an air fryer, by all means use your oven. I unfortunately do not have a working oven so everything goes in the air fryer for me.). Let’s get started!

I decided to work with boneless skinless chicken breast and salmon fillet. For the sides I will make roasted onions and peppers, brussels sprouts, baby dutch yellow potatoes and black beans. The first part I start on are the onions and peppers. I used two green peppers and a half yellow onion. Start by chopping the washed onions and peppers into thick pieces, you don’t want them diced, you want your vegetables to be chunky. Season the onions and peppers with 1/8 teaspoon salt, as much garlic powder as you would like (I like a lot of garlic!), and 1/2 tablespoon rosemary. Drizzle 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil (Olive oil is going to be our best friend) and mix the vegetables together in a bowl until coated.

Salt, garlic powder, rosemary, olive oil, let’s mix!

Now that your veggies are mixed, place them evenly in your air fryer and cook on 300 degrees for ten minutes, make sure that you open the air fryer after five minutes to shake the veggies for proper distribution. After ten minutes you should have perfectly roasted onions and green peppers.

…and cook!
Finished roasted onions and peppers.

Meanwhile, while the vegetables are cooking you can start on prepping the chicken breasts. We’re going to marinate our three chicken breasts in a soy sauce mixture. In a small bowl (Or coffee mug) combine 1/2 cup of soy sauce, the juice of one entire lemon and around four cloves of garlic (Again, LOVE garlic. You may use less if you’d like.).

Make sure that your chicken is thoroughly cleaned and that your sink and surface are disinfected after handling.

Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper to taste. Mix the mixture together well and pour it over your chicken breast that you should have laid out in a pan to marinate in. Poke three holes on each side of the chicken breast so that the marinade can seep in. PLEASE make sure that your chicken is thoroughly cleaned and that you’ve disinfected your sink and surface after washing your meat! Let the chicken breast sit in the soy sauce marinade for fifteen minutes per side, so thirty minutes total.

After 30 minutes your chicken breast should have a brown coat to it.

At this point your roasted vegetables should be done and your chicken is still in the refrigerator marinating, the next thing we can make are the roasted brussels sprouts.

Get your brussels sprouts ready to air fry.

Start with a bag of washed brussels sprouts, cut each sprout in half and place in a mixing bowl. Season the sprouts with 1/8 teaspoon salt and garlic powder to taste, drizzle 1/2 tablespoon of our dear friend olive oil over the sprouts and mix together to coat evenly. Place the seasoned sprouts in the air fryer and cook on 400 degrees for 12 minutes, be sure to shake the sprouts halfway through. Once the air fryer beeps it’s time to remove and admire your work on your beautiful brussels sprouts.

Beautiful roasted brussels sprouts are only twelve minutes away.
Your finished sprouts should have a nice golden coat to them.

After the brussels sprouts are complete we can start on the potatoes. Grab a bag of baby dutch yellow potatoes (Or any potato of your preference. I just prefer yellow potatoes). After washing, cut each potato in half and place the bunch in a mixing bowl. Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, garlic powder to taste and rosemary to taste (I like a lot of rosemary on my potatoes so I went nuts).

Make sure that you coat those potatoes well!

Coat with olive oil and mix the potatoes together well. Place the coated potatoes in the air fryer and cook on 400 degrees for twenty minutes, shaking halfway through. You should have golden brown potatoes once you’re done!

Nice golden brown baby dutch yellow potatoes.

It’s probably been longer than thirty minutes but it’s no problem if you let the chicken breasts sit in the marinade until you’re ready. It’s time to start the black beans! For the beans you will need your can of beans, 1/4 of an onion chopped, 1/8 teaspoon salt, garlic powder to taste, 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1/8 teaspoon of ground bay leaves. Normally I would use actual bay leaves and I would use two, however the grocery store was out of loose bay leaves so the powdered version will have to do.

Have your black beans ingredients mise en place.

Start by heating the teaspoon of olive oil in your saucepan. Once the oil is hot add your chopped onions and cook on medium heat for three to five minutes or until the onions are clear.

The onions are getting friendly.

Once the onions are cooked add the can of black beans. When you empty out the can, fill it about 2/3 full of water (Or if you have chicken broth, I HIGHLY recommend that. I did not have chicken broth.). Bring the black beans mixed with the onions to a boil then reduce the heat back to medium-low and let the beans simmer for about five to ten minutes. After simmering, the beans will be ready to enjoy.

If you’ve reached the boiling point for your black beans, you’re on the right path.

Now it’s time to get back to our chicken breasts that have been patiently waiting for our attention. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet to coat the pan on medium heat. Once the oil is heated, drop those marinated chicken breasts in that bad boy! Cook the chicken breasts for seven minutes on each side.

These cuts of chicken breasts were a little thicker than usual so in addition to cooking them for seven minutes on each side, I flipped them a third time and let them cook for an extra seven minutes to make sure that the meat was cooked all the way through. Your finished product should be three nicely seared colored chicken breasts ready to be packed into a lunch.

Cooked chicken breasts ready for lunching.

Up next is our salmon. This will be the last thing to cook before assembling lunch for today and tomorrow. I like my salmon to be a little sweet so this will be honey glazed salmon. You’ll need the salmon, honey, Dijon mustard (Or the mustard of your choosing), salt, pepper and say it with me…garlic powder.

Getting prepared for honey glazed salmon.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper to taste. Then combine two tablespoons of honey with two tablespoons of Dijon mustard, one tablespoon per piece of salmon. Drizzle the glaze on top of the salmon and place in the air fryer.

Cook the salmon at 350 degrees for fifteen minutes. Once the salmon is done it should have a nice golden color to it, and you’re done!

Finished honey glazed salmon!

Let’s take a look at our finished work. We have two proteins, vegetables and carbs. Now it’s time to assemble what we’ve made so that we have lunch for today and tomorrow. (We have meals for a few days, but I’m only going to prep two.)

Our finished product should be two proteins, vegetables and carbs. Enough for a balanced meal.

First I’m going to prepare lunch for tomorrow. I’ve decided chicken will be for lunch. I put together a container compiled of the soy-lemon marinated chicken breast, black beans, yellow potatoes and brussels sprouts. I eyeballed my portions because I’m not on a strict diet, but if I were training I would measure out 1/4 cup of the black beans, 1/2 cup of brussels sprouts and 1/4 cup of potatoes. To be honest, if I were training I would cut the potatoes out all together; but we’re not here for that, we’re here to eat.

Tomorrow’s lunch is chicken!

Now for my actual lunch for today I decided on the honey glazed salmon. I assembled everything pretty much the same except I switched out the brussels sprouts for the roasted onions and peppers. Again if I were training the onions and peppers would be measured out to 1/2 cup.

Let’s eat! Don’t forget to hydrate!

Congratulations! You now know how to make a simple meal prep that will get you through the next couple of days of the week. Now I’m going to eat this honey glazed salmon lunch assisted by sixty-four ounces of water throughout the day. Trust me, if you add that much water to your daily intake you’re gonna have a great feeling week. I hope I was informative enough to inspire you to meal prep in your kitchen. Enjoy!

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