Easy and Inexpensive Lunch Hack for a Busy Work Week

Are you trying to be health conscious? Spending too much money on lunch? Have you ever thought of meal prepping? If so, I am here to help guide you in the right direction on how to meal prep to make your life easier, save money and overall, be a healthier you!

We all know how the typical lunch time goes. It comes way too soon, you can’t decide what you want or where from and it never lasts long enough. I have always tried to prepare my meals ahead of time by usually making dinner the night before and having leftovers the following day, but what happens if you don’t want to cook ever other night and eat the same thing over and over? Usually you end up spending money out and eating unhealthy because you’re making such a hasty decision on the spot.

Let’s think about it for a minute-

An average lunch costs about $10, right?

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Now, let’s say you are eating out 4 times a week.

You end up spending an average of $160 a month!

And most likely not eating the healthiest and/or best thing for you. What if I told you that you could meal prep and be healthy for about $15 per week? Do you think I’m crazy? I’m not, I promise.

Here is how I meal prep for about $15 per week:

  1. Make a list

This is crucial to make sure you get the items you need. I typically shop at a few different places to get these items. I make sure my list is categorized by the way my grocery store is laid out to make my trip more efficient. *Tip: If you want to eat clean, stay on the outside isles of the grocery store. (IE. Produce, Dairy, and Meats)

  1. Don’t get too crazy fancy, Stick with what you know

MealPrepMondayFoodBoneless Skinless Chicken Breasts – I buy mine from Sam’s Club at $1.88 a pound (Yes, I know it’s an amazing price!). I end up purchasing about 6 pounds of chicken for roughly $11.30. Mind you, I am one person and typically 6 pounds of chicken would last me about roughly a week and a half.

Broccoli – I also buy at Sam’s Club, broccoli florets all ready to go in a 2 pound bag for $3.98. I steam the broccoli in my microwavable steamer basket in batches until the entire bag is cooked. If you want to switch up your method of preparation, you can also sauté your broccoli in a pan with garlic and olive oil.

Sweet Potatoes – Luckily, my favorite grocery store carries George Foods-Petite Sweet Potatoes 1.5 pounds in a steam bag for about $4.99. And who said meal prep was hard?

Raspberries and Strawberries – Any type of berry is a great low calorie and low sugar snack. Luckily, my local grocery store had a BOGO sale and I was able to get a container of both for $5!

*To make the above even cheaper, you can always switch sweet potatoes for a bulk of brown rice or Quinoa. Personally, I just love sweet potatoes!*

RubbermaidTakeAlongsTupperware/Plastic Containers – They don’t call me the container queen for nothing! Luckily, I have enough containers to last a lifetime but if you are just getting into prepping and are in need of containers, I recommend Rubbermaid TakeAlongs. They are microwave safe, dishwasher safe and reusable. I was lucky enough to find a value pack of 62 pieces at Sam’s Club for $19.98!

 

 

 

McCormick'sGrillMatesMarinadePackets

 

3.  Prepare and shake things up with some spices!

Now that you have what you need, let’s spice things up! Don’t be afraid to try new and different spices from the grocery store. Some of my favorites for chicken are McCormick’s- Grill Mates Marinade packets in Mojito Lime, Baja Citrus, Backyard Brew, Garlic, Herb & Wine and Zesty Herb, just to name a few. I typically will divide my chicken up and marinade each bunch with a different flavor. You can also play around with different vinegar and oils along with salad dressings.

Make sure to cook all your food in one session. Place an equal amount of each item into the containers. I typically cut my chicken up into pieces before marinating. Once cooked, I add the following to each container:

1-cup of cooked chicken

½ cup of sweet potato

1-1 ½ cups of broccoli

You can also even it all out and eyeball it. It is a little time consuming but totally worth it. It usually takes me a total of two hours but in the end, the results are astonishing! *Don’t hesitate to freeze meals for the following week!

As you can see below, I was able to make 10 lunches in two hours!

MealPrepMonday

I can grab my lunch in the morning on my way to work at Camden Westchase Park, save money and eat healthy throughout the week!

For further reading about food prep,check out this Simply Camden blog post!

OC Restaurant Week 2014

It’s that time of year again when you get to try out new restaurants for a discounted rate. You can go for either lunch or dinner and they usually offer 2 or 3 course meals. This event only happens once a year and it has over 100 different restaurants for you to choose from. The event is for Orange County CA from February 23rd – March 1st 2014.
This is the best deal on food and a great reason to spend time out with your favorite people! Make sure you call all your friends or family and make your reservations now!
This are preset lunches and dinners and they include both appetizers and desserts
Lunch – $10, $15, or $20
Dinner – $20, $30, or $40
http://ocrestaurantweek.com/

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Houston Restaurant Weeks!

 Houston Restaurant Weeks is here August 1st – 31st and I’m so happy! I’m also still full from the 3 course meal I devoured last night at Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse.

 Not only is a great opportunity to experience high-class cuisine at some of the best restaurants in Houston, but part of the proceeds benefit the Houston Food Bank. 

So this is how it works…

$35 Dinner per person – 3 Courses (4 courses at some restaurants)
Restaurants donate $5 per dinner sold to the Houston Food Bank

$20 Lunch per person – 2 Courses (3 courses at some restaurants)
Restaurants donate $3 per lunch sold to the Houston Food Bank

Photo Courtesy of Houston Restaurant Weeks Website

 I encourage everyone to at least try to go once to any of the restaurants in this years Houston Restaurant Weeks, if not everyday of the week. It’s worth it. Believe me. 

 For more information please visit their website,  http://houstonrestaurantweeks.com/.

 Let me know how it went!

My Current Top Three Lunch Picks in Downtown San Diego

Working downtown every day I try to forget the number of delicious restaurant options I have at just a stone’s throw away.  If I took advantage of my location I’d have a much smaller wallet and much bigger waistline.  The best time to find a great deal is at lunchtime when downtown’s restaurant crowd is thin.  Every once in a while I still like to adventure out and look for some great lunch time deals that downtown San Diego has to offer.  Here are my personal top three (as of today) in no particular order:

1)  The Neighborhood – A very trendy eatery located towards the East Village at 777 G Street.  They have a small menu but no bad choices.  All lunch items are $11 and below and made with some delicious and unique flavors.  The restaurant is designed after European gastropubs and has a casual atmosphere with food connoisseur in mind.  I’ve never been for dinner and assume it probably gets very busy as they do have 27 craft microbrews on tap and are open until midnight. 

2)  The Fish Market – 750 North Harbor Drive.  The Fish Market is a pretty popular place since it is right by the USS Midway museum and right on the water.  They serve fresh caught fish from their own fleet of boats.  They aren’t cheap, but if you go downstairs to their more casual dining you can get some great food for prices much less than their upstairs or dinnertime dining.  It has one of the best views of the San Diego harbor and great ambiance.

View of the San Diego Bay from Camden Tuscany http://www.camdenliving.com

3)  Blue Water Grill – 3667 India Street.  Gourmet fresh caught fish in a fast food style restaurant.  You can get it grilled, in a sandwich, or in a taco.  You can pick up freshly made ceviche, oysters, soups, and more.  This is the best way to get a quick casual five star seafood lunch for half the price….that about says it all.  This is probably one of my favorites actually, now that I’m thinking of it I’ll have to go soon!