Temps are climbing here in IL, well kind of. We’re tipping the halfway point of May, so I think it’s safe to say no more snow. You never quite know until May if you’re done with winter in IL. Our climate is bananas. But, spring weather or not, we have pulled out our grill for the season and are using it nonstop. Oh sweet Green Mountain Grill, how I have missed you!
We have been on a kick of marinating and grilling meats at the Rivera household. Let me tell you, that lil’ strategy has been working beautifully for meal prep. Depending on how you do it, meal prepping can be your BFF or your arch enemy. I’ve tried the thing where you meal prep one day for the week and I absolutely hate it. It takes way too much time out of my Sunday when I want to be resting. The cooking takes forever and the cleaning is even worse! Also, the food never tastes as good past the three-day mark anyway and I end up throwing a lot of it away.
What I do now is a much better solution for my personality and my lifestyle. Basically, I only plan dinners for the week. I pretty much wing it for breakfast and lunch, though I often eat some variation of the same thing for those meals. I’ll cook my breakfast and lunch fresh every day, but because I eat the same sort of things, I always have an idea for what to eat and I always have the ingredients on hand.
Lately, breakfast is some variation of a protein shake or oatmeal, eggs with veggies, or avocado toast. I work from home, so I have the luxury of being able to cook for myself every day and I definitely use that to my advantage. But I’m not getting all Gordon Rasamy in the kitchen. These meals take me no more than 15 minutes to cook and clean up. Some weeks I will make ahead a [[breakfast casserole]] and heat that up through the week. It’s one of the few things I can make in abundance and will taste great reheated. When I had a job where I worked outside of the home, I made those weekly and brought them along for my breakfast.
For lunch, I’m also cooking fresh and keeping it super simple. The goal is always to be in and out in under 15 minutes. I use these [[precooked chicken packets]] from Costco and turn them into a salad, sandwich, or wrap. Sometimes I’ll have leftovers from the night before or I’ll have some deli meat on hand for a quick wrap. I’ve also been known to double up on breakfast foods and eat oatmeal or avocado toast for lunch. There is quite literally no limit to the amount of breakfast I am willing to eat in a day.
Now dinner is the main event in my house and we typically cook every night. This is the one that usually takes a little more effort and brain power. My husband and I plan our dinners about three days at a time. Both of us actually enjoy cooking, so this doesn’t feel like too much of a chore. Of course, some nights we feel like cooking more than others, so we’ve gathered an arsenal of go-to dinners that we can cook and get cleaned up in under an hour. Lucky for you, all of them eventually make their way onto this blog! What has really been working for us lately is marinating meat overnight and grilling it the next day. The prep is so easy and using the grill means one less pan we have to clean.
Last week, my husband made this killer Adobo Marinated Chicken marinade and I just knew I had to share it here! The ingredients are easy to find and it’s a breeze to prep. Last week we made this with boneless skinless chicken thighs, but we used chicken breast for this go-around. Both versions turned out excellent!
We smoke ours on our pellet grill before we grill it, so you’ll see that added as an extra step. If you have a pellet grill, I highly recommend this step. It adds a smokiness that you can’t quite get if you just grill it alone. But, if you don’t have a pellet grill or you just don’t feel like adding the extra step, no sweat. This still will taste great if you skip the smoke and just pop these bad boys onto the grill.
My favorite way to eat this chicken has been creating a Chipotle-style bowl with it. I’ll throw some white rice into the rice cooker and make these [[Caribbean Style Black Beans]] to go along with it. Then I’ll heat up some of these [[frozen veggies from Costco]], chop up some lettuce, add some cheese, avocado, sour cream, and lots of hot sauce. The result? A flavor bomb in a bowl that’s ready in 20 minutes flat.
That, my friends, is how I make meal-prepping work for me. But I will be honest with you, since abandoning diets at the beginning of this year, I’ve been a little afraid of meal prepping and planning. I went pretty hard into the “anti-diet culture” for a moment there and I was afraid that anything I did resembling a diet was bad. It was understandable. Chronic dieting absolutely became an idol in my life. I would even go so far to call it an addiction after seeing the devastation it caused to me relationally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
I have a full post up about it [[here]], but it’s been an ongoing process to get to where I am now. I’m finally at a place where I feel like I can make autonomous decisions about my health and the food that I eat. Some sects of the “anti-diet” movement may label certain things I do as “diet culture” but I could care less. The anti-diet movement is not the hill I die on. Now I’m 100% not for diets either. But, like with most things, I believe the best ground is kept right in the middle. So say what you want about planning, anti-diet people, but meal prepping works for my household.
There is an overload of nutritional information and opinions out there, but at the end of the day, you need to take control of your choices and figure out what works for your life. The most important thing I’ve learned after 10 years of struggling with extreme diets is to avoid all the communities that make eating or dieting their identity. I’m talking about the outspoken Anti-Diet people, the Keto people, the all-Paleo Crossfit people (do those still exist?), the IIFYM people, the fasting purists, and the vegans.
The desire to find community is innate. But when we start to build our communities off of what we eat or don’t eat, we can quickly find ourselves in toxic environments that can rob us of purpose. When what you or how you eat starts to become a part of who you are, you’re doing it wrong. In Matthew 6:25, Jesus clearly tells us that life is more than food when he tells use that we shouldn’t worry so much about these things:
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Matthew 6:25, NLT.
Let me be the one today to remind you that our identities are not what we eat. Our identities come from being made anew in Christ Jesus. All of our value is directly linked to what Christ has done for us. Nearly everything I’ve learned in my struggle with disordered eating comes down to this:
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
Do it all for the glory of God. It is true that some people thrive on different diets. It is true that some food offers more nutrition than others. It is also true that there is nothing you can put in your mouth that can defile you. (Matthew 15:11) When we shift our focus from how the latest TikTok influencers say to eat and instead seek out how God tells us to view food, only then can we find freedom.
So my friends, if you meal prep on Sunday or through the week or not at all. If you are anti-diet, anti-carb, or anti-FODMAP. If you’re a carnivore or vegan. If you’re gluten-free, sugar-free, or nut free. Do it with an attitude of reverence for the gift that God has given you. Remember that your food is not your identity. Remember to do it all for the glory of God. ❤️
Adobo Marinated Chicken Meal Prep
- 2 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicen Breast
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 8oz can Chipoltes in Adobo I use the Goya brand.
- 1/2 Red Onion
- 3 Cloves Garlic
- Salt To taste
- 2 tsp Cumin
- 1 Lime, juiced
- Add all ingredients (except chicken) to a food processor and blend to combine.
- Place chicken in a shallow dish. Cover with marinade and toss so each piece is evenly coated. Cover and place in the fridge overnight.
- For my pellet grill users, smoke at 225 for two hours. For my regular grillers, skip this step.
- Chicken will remain tasty in the fridge for 3-4 days. We love to serve ours as tacos or burrito bowls.