The Secrets of Meal Prep

As many of you know; and some may not, I competed in my first fitness bikini competition in 2016. In some areas of my life; I am a black and white kinda girl, and I don’t mean in how I dress. I am naturally a perfectionist (which I am growing day by day away from, or trying to at least!) Which means when I started my new meal plan back in 2016 I was very precise, 11 almonds meant 11 almonds not 10, not 15; not a handful, but 11.

While taking out a food scale and weighing 4oz of chicken, 4oz of sweet potato, and a cup of broccoli was cumbersome; it instilled the procedure and dedication I needed to keep me on track. But this way of meal prep isn’t for everyone; and it certainly isn’t for me anymore, and probably isn’t for you either.

So what got me from 2016 to 2018 (where I am now) and how will this help you? Well what got me from 2016 to 2018 is a loaded question of ups and downs and learning curves for sure, but we won’t get into that here; but we will pause on learning curves.

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Through the diligence of being so strict, I learned the basic principals that I still carry with me today. After weighing chicken and vegetables for countless days; I now have a keen sense on what an approximate 4-6oz looks like, and in the everyday healthy lifestyle sense–it is good enough! When you are not stepping on stage at a certain body fat percentage; the extra gram or two of chicken won’t hinder your day to day healthy physique.

Another valuable lesson learned was how to shop at bulk superstores like BJ’s Wholesale; not only does it save you money, but when you eat a lot of the same food it is easier to get larger portions saving you trips to the grocery store each week. Now, my weekly trip to the store looks like 10 items or so rather than a cart full. Every morning my green smoothie consists of frozen vegetables which are not only cost effective, but their longevity far outlasts that of fresh. Which leads me to frozen fruit and vegetables are not only cost effective; but already cut, clean, and when talking about vegetables– already partially cooked. Which means less prep time for you during the week!

Typically I eat between 5–6 meals a day because I love eating and snacking. Eggs are a big staple in my diet not only because I love them; but because they are also cost effective. I usually add one whole egg to egg whites, and while egg whites are more expensive sometimes than buying eggs; they have a high protein complex.

Let’s do a little recap; shopping at wholesale clubs, frozen vegetables and fruit, eggs–which brings me to whole fresh fruit, and pre–packaged vegetables. Now depending on whether you are looking to save money, or time (because let’s be honest here, they go hand in hand) both of these topics may be beneficial to you–as they are to me. I love snacking on fresh fruit; which means my go-to are usually apples, and berries which are pre-packaged and when I want any kind of melon, or pineapple I buy the whole fruit and cut myself to save on cost. Whereas with something like pre-cut and washed vegetables or even frozen are sometimes more appealing to me than taking time to chop various veggies and blanching.

The grill and oven are probably my favorite meal prep tools; not only can you cook large amounts of ingredients at the same time, but they come out really tasty as well! Grilling chicken, and roasting vegetables changes things up, dedicated a day of the week (Saturday and Sunday usually work best for the 9–5 corporate world schedule) to go to the store and pick up anything you may need, and then prepare, cook, and pre-portion out your meals for the week. This makes each morning a breeze of just grabbing and going with your already planned out meals for the day.

I could go on and on about my favorite topic of food; so I will end with services such as HelloFresh and Home Chef, which make the modern life easier and healthy. Our family subscribes to both and while I prefer the majority of Home Chef meals over HelloFresh (HelloFresh is a lot more kid-friendly with their meal choices.) Anything from Salmon with Green Goddess Sauce to Chicken, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Grain Bowls make for delicious, healthy, no–brainer dinners. Each week; these companies send you a box with ice packs, and all of the ingredients you will need to cook the meals inside. As well as directions, and sometimes the vegetables even come pre-cut for you! This makes dinner a breeze, to come home after work, cook for on average 30 minutes and from kitchen to table you are able to enjoy time with your family through a communal meal. Because let’s face it; as much as we meal prep, and stay on schedule of a healthy lifestyle–food is sociable, and we need to not only enjoy it, but in good company!

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Hike Like a Pro

If only I knew this information before embarking on 180 days of walking in the woods; trial and error, networking, and so forth is how I learned–but now I can teach you!

Backpacking is putting one foot in front of the other over and over again; well we do that daily don’t we?! Yes, and no–backpacking isn’t really that complicated; but by no means is easy. Most of us read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods or Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and think romanticized thoughts “I can do that!” “that would never happen to me” and so forth. But the truth of the matter is: your pack is heavy, blisters happen, bad weather and complications arise no matter what. So what can we do about it?

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Avoid some common mistakes, plan accordingly, and avoid at least hopefully (maybe) one problem because of it!

The most common question I get is “what did you eat?!” As if my response would be skinning deer, wild berries, and mushrooms. While this is a valid question; you need to remember to pack the right amount of food. Since I had support at home monitoring my food boxes being mailed to me; it was more than once I had to tell my Mom that if she is going to send this much food, she is going to come carry it for me. And while I am forever grateful for her planning, and support along the way, the reality was; whatever I ate weighed me down.

Individuals who have never backpacked, and especially beginners; worry about not having enough food. Abundance is a trait well-known in our day and age; but that wasn’t so for our ancestors, or even cultures outside of the Western part of the World. We can survive on less, but we don’t want to; and with burning so many calories a day–I wouldn’t recommend it. The average calorie consumption per hiker per day should roughly be 3,000 calories; I know some hikers that had that in one meal alone…HoneyBuns are a staple out there I tell ya!

If you can afford dehydrated meals like Mountain House (Pasta Primavera so good!) Good To-Go (Pad Thai yes please!) etc. then they are the way to go taste, and weight wise! Otherwise, items like Knorr Rice Sides were a staple in my bag at times, as well as Tuna packs and of course the best tasting bars around! Lay out all of your food by day to really visualize what it all looks like and most importantly what it will all weigh!

Have you heard of carrying a crayon in your purse or backpack as an emergency fire starter? Well, if you haven’t–now you have! Another way to make a fire starter is to melt down some candle wax, add a dryer lint sheet cut up (as a wick) in an old egg cardboard carton.

This may be pretty obvious to the seasoned hiker; but Ziplock freezer bags make for great companions, from lining your pot to omit dirty dishes, to waterproofing maps, guides, and journals.

Many times throughout my days on the trail I was told by fellow thru-hikers, people in town, and day hikers alike that I did not look or smell like a thru-hiker (my family begged to differ.) There is a reason for this however; I chose to obtain the extra weight of carrying a packet of baby wipes. Not only for general hygienic reasons, but for cleaning injuries, spills, but yes mostly to wipe the daily sweat off me at the end of the day in my tent before bed. (Trust me, you can clean your skin and feel cleaner but the next morning you still have to put back on those stinky clothes! Don’t feel like carrying wipes, or want to eliminated some shirt stench? Submerse in a nearby creek and lay out on a rock to let the sun dry and disinfect!

I could go on and on about trail like hacks and tips (and will with upcoming entries) but I will end this one with a How To Tape or Wrap an Injured Ankle because let’s face it, I had my share of injuries along the way!

 

  1. Position your foot at a 90-degree angle with your calf (such as sitting on the floor)
  2. Wrap tape or elastic fabric around your calf give or take about 2 inches above the injured ankle
  3. Loop 2 U-shaped stirrups around your heel and up both sides of the ankle. Wrap another around the calf to finish off
  4. Start from the injured side; wrap down your ankle, under your arch, and across the top of your foot–repeat this twice
  5. Make figure 8 paths by wrapping down the side of your ankle, across the top of your foot, across your Achilles and the other side of the ankle finishing back at the arch–repeat this twice and you’re done!

 

I hope at least one of these tips and tricks was or will be helpful to you in the future adventure you are about to embark on! Drop a comment below to share where you are off to–I’d love to know where my fellow hikers are adventuring to currently.

 

You need special shoes for hiking — and a bit of a special soul as well.

                                                                                                                       –Terri Guillemets

Traveling for Free

While I am not paid to travel (yet); nor do I travel completely for free– there are several tips, tricks, and hacks that make it feel as though I travel for free. We will start with rather small and simple executions working our way to the larger ones.

One of the biggest complaints is the cost of food and beverages in the airport, especially water; you’re telling me I can’t even bring my own water?! No, but you can bring your own water bottle…empty. Genius! After passing through security, fill that 32oz bottle up and hydrate before the flight.

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If you are like me; I constantly check flight prices and destinations, but did you know the prices will go up for you just because you keep checking a certain location? My two go-to flight booking websites are Skyscanner and Momondo –with both however; be sure to turn on “Private Browsing.” If you are un-aware how to do this, just go to: File– New Incognito Window. Travel sites can record your visits by installing cookies on your browser, which can cause the prices you’re shown to rise simply because you’ve searched for those flights before!

Don’t pay overage fees for luggage; learn how to roll! My Nana taught me this strategy at a young age; but I never implemented it until traveling internationally. Rather than folding your clothes, roll them up into a little tube. This will save a ton of space and stop creases and wrinkles as a bonus point.

This doesn’t really save you money; but when time is money, I guess it balances out– plus it’s pretty cool! Did you know you can download an app called FlightBoard onto your phone and experience personal virtual arrival and departure board at your finger tips? –well now you do!

If you don’t have pressing plans to be at a certain place at a very specific time; then this one is for you. Often when flights are overbooked; if you give up your seat, you will be compensated with freebees and upgrades. Free food, beverages, and upgrades to Business class sounds comparable to me; just don’t offer up the karma on your way to your Sister’s wedding–she may not be excited by your extra leg room a day after the ceremony.

Do you travel often? Maybe you (and I) should consider being a market researcher. Why not get paid for something you will be doing already anyways? Companies all over the world are looking for people to try out their accommodations and give feedback.

Frequent flyer miles are another investment worth being aware of; by saving up these points you can book a trip and fly business class even for less than you would have flown in economy, pennies on the dollar!

Did you think Airport lounges are for the rich and famous? Think again, what if I told you I know how to get into these little oasis hidden in the walls of an airport? There are a few ways to get free massages, food, alcohol, showers, and more while waiting on your layover. The first would be purchasing a Priority Pass membership which can cost anywhere from $89–$359 annually with access to 1200 lounges worldwide. But you may say; well that’s not free! Sure, you can look at it two ways; it’s not–but if you travel often how much would all the food, alcohol, coffee, beverages, showers, sleep stations, and massages run you? Exactly. The other hack would be applying for a credit card such as Chase Sapphire Reserve or American Express Platinum which includes Priority Pass as one of the perks as well as travel points, and travel allowance.

It never hurts to ask; I’ve found this beneficial in a few of my most recent bookings. What do you offer? We all offer something we can share with the world, most people will pay your services or trade compensation. Such as the destination wedding I will be shooting in Greece in September of this year, or the 28 days I’ll be in Thailand composing videos of training Muay Thai– not to mention Costa Rica in January 2019, who knows what will come up before that!

Safe travels my friend; maybe we will catch each other in the Al Mourjan Lounge in Qatar one day!