Let’s Lunch! Smart Meal Prep Tips & Recipes #ReynoldsHeatandEat

Lunch, you gotta eat it no matter where you are – home, work, school, errands, gym, airplane. The issues getting in the way of my healthy lunch life are meeting up with friends who don’t have the same concerns about eating “food for function” as I do, finishing a workout that went well past noon and being so hangry that I could eat the entire Shake Shack on my way home, or being stuck on travel and having the only option be airport food. Note – I have a $25 Gift Card Giveaway at bottom of post. 

Lunch Meal Prep

However, I’ve found that with a little bit of front in effort I can prep my lunches in nice little containers for the week on Sunday – the payoff is obviously a healthier meal with ingredients approved by me, less crazy mornings gathering my grub up, and saving money – yes, saving money is good! It means I can pay all the high dollar fees for getting to and entering the races I love doing.

Meal Prepping Tips & Recipes for Lunch!

These are some basic tips that I use every week when putting together my meals and packing them up in to-go containers . If you’re a pro meal prepper, these tips may sound simple. But, if you’re new to the game of big batch cooking and assembly line prep, these useful ideas will help you get started!

Prep your protein.  The slow cooker and grill are my two go-to ways to prepare large batches of beef, chicken and pork for lunches (and dinners) through the week.   On Sunday morning, it’s so easy to stick huge roast or brisket in the Crock Pot and then walk away to enjoy the day. I use darn-big slow cooker (8-qt) so that I can make the most meat possible and have even been known to have two going at the same time! For the grill, Costco-sized trays of chicken or steaks not only are more economical to buy, but will hook you up for the entire week or month – depending on your family size. For fish, fill a rimmed, oiled baking sheet with your favorite filets or one huge piece of salmon and bake in the oven ‘til done!

Get your whole grains, beans & legumes going.  Brown rice, quinoa, and ancient grains hold up really well to making ahead of time and reheating later. Often, I find that pasta gets mushy during its second showing- not always though, whole wheat pasta holds up pretty well.  Use a large stock pot or rice cooker to get the job done efficiently – mine has a 20 quart capacity!   Another benefit of cooking a week’s worth of grains at once, less mess to clean up.

Switch up the sauces & mix-ins.  Often eating meal-prepped lunches can seem monotonous, choking down the same bland thing day after day. However, adding a small serving of sauce or handful of mix-ins is an easy way to transform the same old lunchbox staples into a wider range of flavorful meals – try pestos, Asian-inspired sauces, marinaras, salsas and so on! Even some fresh, no preservative salad dressings make a good option on hot and cold dishes. As for mix-ins, the little “extras” I rotate through include nuts, seeds, cheeses and dried fruits.

Use the right container.  If taking a salad for work, a large mason jar can be layered with ingredients. Keep the dressing on the bottom and delicate ingredients up higher, leaving a little headroom at the top so that you can shake it up right before eating.  I also like to take my soup in a mason jar, placing a layer of plastic wrap over the opening and under the lid to both help prevent leaking during transport and to serve as a splatter guard when reheating in the microwave – you don’t want to put that metal lid in there!  Hot meals can be reheated in a variety of containers, but I am partial to the Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers  (more deets below)– they hold a generous portion, are a great alternative to plastic and can be tossed in the trash so no messy containers to take home.  Store small portions of dressings, nuts, and cheese in baby mason jars, cleaned baby food jars, small plastic containers or snack-sized zip-bags.

Know your food safety rules.  When meal prepping for a week of lunches, remember most pre-cooked proteins and grains will only stay fresh for about 3 to 4 days in the fridge—I prep for Monday through Thursday and then do actually treat myself to lunch out on Friday! You can also prep your “plated” meal, or bigger bags of “ingredients” for assembly later, cool and place into appropriate freezer-storage containers – in the freezer, you can keep the quality for about 6 months.   I refer to this handbook of food storage safety tips from Real Simple magazine often.  If you can’t keep your lunch in the fridge at work, make sure you’re using icepacks than keep your food chilled until chow time.

Reynolds Heat and EAt disposable containers

As I mentioned, I am digging these Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers (I purchased mine at Walmart on the food storage aisle where you find foil, plastic bag, wax paper, etc.).  Available in two sizes, these toss-away lunch tubs are a great alternative to plastic and are made with plant fibers.  The clear lids allow you to see what you’re grabbing from the fridge, but need to be set aside during the reheating process. Reynolds Heat & Eat disposable container at Walmart

Reynolds Heat & Eat disposable ContainersCheck these out for yourself by picking up a pack of new Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat Containers at your local Walmart – found on the food storage aisle. They are very reasonably priced and you can even save an additional $1.00 on one pack of Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers with this coupon.

Here are some recipes to get you going:

roasted-tomatoes-in-turmeric-sauce“Go for the Gold” Turmeric Hummus  can be tossed with pasta or zucchini noodles for a healthy option to a creamy sauce – another perk is that there is also added protein.

 

 

Beef Blue Cheese Date Jar Salad is full of protein and Iron Super Iron Boosting Beef, Blue Cheese and Date Salad relies on pre-prepped sliced steak from the freezer (or freshly cooked) and layers up nicely in a jar for on-the-go lunching. I’ve even eaten this one in the car!

 

Maple Pecan Raisin Butternut Squash Quinoa - thefitfork.comMaple Pecan Butternut Quinoa is a delicious fall-inspired salad that can be taken to work or school and eaten warm or cold.  Here’s a little tip, double up when cooking the quinoa for this recipe and bag the rest in the freezer for easy dinners later.

 

Shrimp & Sugar Snap Pea SAlad with Lemon Gremolata easily packs into a lunchbox served cold.Shrimp & Snap Pea Pasta with Lemon Gremolata – This is another dish that is just as good cold as hot. If meal prepping for lunch, I always leave the delicate veggies raw so that when I reheat, they don’t become mushy!

 

 

 

 

15 minute Beef & Veggie Fried RiceBeef & Veggie Fried Rice: I typically use sirloin or flat iron steads for this one, but prepping to eat several days in a row, I will swap up the meats with chicken, shrimp or just simply extra scrambled eggs for protein variety.

 

Don’t forget to GET YOUR $1 OFF COUPON for Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers!

walmart-25-giveawayEnter giveaway for a change to win a $25 Walmart Gift Card so you can try Reynolds™ Disposable Heat & Eat containers yourself! Ends 10/20/2016 at Midnight CT.

Enter via Rafflecopter app below:

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10 Tips to Stop Exercise Acne from Winning #GoBackHealthy

This post is sponsored by MinuteClinic but all opinions and enthusiasm are my own.

Keeping a clean face pre and post workout is the best way to stay breakout free.

Keeping a clean face pre and post workout is the best way to stay breakout free.

Are your runs, workouts and other sweat sessions making you break out? Do you have a pre-teen or teenager who plays sports and struggles with acne?  If so, then I have some great tips to help you put a halt to (or at least lessen) those pesky and often confidence-shaking pimples.

Follow these 10 Tips for the Athlete – How to Stop Acne from Winning and, in no time, get your best game face on!

10 Tips for the Athlete - How to Stop Exercise Acne from Wnning

1) Keep Clean: Start every workout with a clean face and remove make-up if normally worn. Sweating while wearing “long-lasting” make-ups, heavy foundations and other similar products clogs and obstructs pores, trapping in dirt and preventing sweat from breaking out.

2) Sun Savvy:  If you are on an acne medication that requires limited or no sun exposure, follow the directions. If you are able to exercise outdoors, wear a non-comedogenic moisturizer that contains SPF or a sunscreen labeled “oil-free” and designed specifically for the face.

3) Tame Hair: Either keep hair cut short or pull back with a hair band so that it doesn’t sweep across the face. Oils from your hair, along with the various clogging chemicals in hair products, can trigger acne flare ups.

4) Ditch Hats: If acne on the forehead is a problem, avoid wearing a hat or visor which will continuously rub the skin and aggravate or create acne.

5) Hands Down: Avoid touching your face while exercising. Everything hands come in contact with (from barbells to the football) is dirty and ripe with bacteria that can be transferred to your face.

6) Sweat Towel Softly: Using a small towel to wipe away sweat during a workout or breaks in a sporting event makes sense.  However, rubbing aggressively can cause inflammation and can exacerbate pimples, so gently pat or blot away sweat instead.

7) Loose Clothes: If you are experiencing body breakouts (like on your back, chest and/or arms) make sure you are not wearing too-tight clothing – choose a looser cut that is designed to whisk away sweat and dry quickly.

8) Finish and Freshen Up: Within a few minutes of cooling down, get face as clean as possible while on site. Either spritz and blot with fresh water or gently wipe with non-comedogenic disposable cleansing cloth kept stashed in your sports bag.

9) End Clean: When back to the locker room or home, get out of sweaty clothes and take a shower to remove any remaining impurities, dead skin cells and excess oil from the day.

10) Treat as Needed: Apply over-the-counter acne products or medically prescribed treatments as directed. Even OTC products contain strong ingredients like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid. While these ingredients can curb bacteria and improve acne, they also dry skin – so use sparingly, increasing a little a time, until you have figured out the balance best for your skin.

If you’ve followed these steps and acne is still getting out of control or you would like to stay ahead with preventative measures, it’s a smart idea to schedule a medical appointment for a personalized consultation and treatment recommendation with your physician (for yourself) or pediatrician (for your child).However, it’s always a hassle to get in at a doctor’s office this time of year when everyone is flooding the phone line with last minute requests for immunizations, well checks, and sports physicals. My go-to solution for all these non-emergency type medical situations is to swing by MinuteClinic®, conveniently located inside neighborhood CVS.  

Minute Clinic lobbyMinuteClinic® can diagnose and treat acne and the nurse practitioner on-site can provide prescriptions deemed medically necessary to heal your acne or help you select the appropriate over-the-counter treatment. Please note that MinuteClinic® does not evaluate patients currently taking Accutane and cannot provide prescriptions for Accutane. Additionally, patients with abscesses, unusual swelling, or severe cases of cystic acne may be directed to another health care provider.

With my three fresh-faced teen boys who I taught to take care of their skin!

With my three fresh-faced teen boys who I taught to take care of their skin!

In addition to the friendly help from a medical professional located near to home, love the fact that no appointment is necessary at MinuteClinic®–I walk right in at your convenience! I’ve never experienced any sort of unusual wait and most often I’m seen immediately. They have also been a lifesaver at last-minute sports pre-participation physicals or getting the kids caught up on their immunizations. I also really appreciate how they are open 7 days per week, including evenings, and accept most insurances (please double check with yours before going).

 Are you and your kids ready to start the new school year and #GoBackHealthy ? What sports do they play . . or do you play? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer