Make-ahead Breakfast: Protein Boxes

I find that I’m the most successful at eating healthy throughout the day when I can start my day of with a healthy breakfast. Typically I don’t have time to make breakfast in the morning, and I’m not really hungry yet when I have to leave the house for work. I drive right past a dunkin donuts on my way to work, and it’s too easy for me to stop there to pick up a breakfast if I don’t already have something ready to go in the morning. So it is a lot more benefitial for my waistline (and my budget) for me to prep breakfast the night before so I have no excuse to stop for something on my way to work.

My Make-Ahead Breakfast Plan

I try to plan and prep my breakfasts over the weekend and I plan on having the same thing every morning to save on prep time and to lesson my decision fatigue. Here are a few of my favorite make-ahead breakfasts:

  1. Individual Frittatas- I make these muffin tin frittatas a lot. I use whatever veggies I have on hand and i’ll often mix in some sliced ham, or cooked bacon. They also freeze well so I’ll double the recipe and keep them in the freezer to have for breakfast over a few weeks.
  2. Morning Glory Muffins– These muffins have some fruits and veggies packed in, as well as whole grains. I’ve also found these to freeze well.
  3. Yogurt with Fruit and Granola- This can’t really be eaten on the run, but if you can take your breakfast to the office this one will work! It’s a lot cheaper if you buy the larger yogurt container and just portion it out at home but you can also buy the individual yogurts.

Want a crazy easy hack for traveling with yogurt? Put it in a wide mouth mason jar but make sure to leave about 3 inches at the top. Add your granola to an empty plastic applesauce container and put it in the top of the mason jar. It fits right in! Then you can put the mason jar lid and ring on. It seals everything together and keeps your granola from getting soggy but you can still portion it in advance. Try this hack with veggies and dip as well!

Protein Boxes

Lately I’ve been having protein boxes inspired by the ones you get at Starbucks but for a FRACTION of the price. I sometimes adapt them to have for lunch as well. I try to put 2-3 boxes together at a time depending on my ingredients and whether or not they can be prepped in advance. Apples for example will brown quickly, so I slice those the night before and toss them with a little bit of lemon juice and water to minimize the browning.

Packing Your Ingredients: There are some great containers out there that are already broken up into sections like these glass containers. They work great for separating dips, peanut butter, or berries from things like eggs and veggies. These silicone muffin cups also work well to place inside dishes to separate ingredients.

Ingredient Inspiration: Here are some ideas of ingredients for your boxes, but the possibilities are virtually endless. Pick what you like and what you’ll be excited to eat.

  • Cheese
  • Hard boiled eggs- made in my instant pot using this method
  • Whole wheat sandwich thins
  • Sliced apple
  • Berries
  • Clementines
  • Grapes
  • Peanut butter
  • Veggies
  • Hummus
  • Crackers
  • Mixed nuts

My boxes for this week include a hard boiled egg, 1 oz of cheese, half of a whole wheat sandwich thin, a clementine, 1 TBSP of hummus, and some sugar snap peas. I end up eating this around 9:30-10:00 am so I don’t mind the more savory peas and hummus.

I try to fill my boxes with things that I’m excited to eat and that will provide me with fuel for my day. This box combines whole grains, proteins and natural sugars to help me feel satisfied and full, and I look forward to eating it! This helps me to say no to the temptations like donuts in the office 🙂

These boxes would also be great as snacks for kids when they get home from school, or something quick to grab as you’re walking out the door on your way to soccer practice.

What are some things that you make ahead for breakfast? What are your ideas for elements to incorporate into a breakfast/lunch protein box?



Spatchcock Chicken

If I’m going to roast a whole chicken, I almost always spatchcock it. This is a method of breaking down the chicken prior to cooking where you remove the backbone and flatten the chicken. I love cooking chicken this way because it cooks faster than roasting whole, and all the pieces have crispy skin.

On Thanksgiving I made the Expertly Spiced and Glazed Roast Turkey from Bon Appetit Magazine. We loved the flavor that the dry salt brine and glaze gave to the turkey, and I was excited to try it on a chicken as well.

Last night I broke down the birds and seasoned them with the dry salt brine. Then tonight I cooked them at 425 for about 70 minutes (glazing about every 15 minutes). You will have to adjust your cooking time based on the weight of your chickens. Mine were pretty hefty 🙂 They came out even juicer than the turkey! This is going to be my standard method for cooking chicken from now on.

I cooked 2 chickens so I would have enough for a few fresh meals, and enough to shred and freeze for quick meals later. I served them tonight brown rice (leftover from Monday), steamed green beans, and a pan dripping gravy. We’ll have the leftover dark meat tomorrow and Friday, and I’m going to shred and freeze the white meat for quick protein on a salad, or protein to add to enchilada filling.

If you’re looking to spatchcock a chicken, visit this link for detailed instructions on how to break down the chicken. It’s the same process for a turkey or any other bird. It’s so easy to carve as well once it’s cooked!



Both chickens, fresh out of the oven.
Part of the carved chicken.
How I served it: Chicken over brown rice with green beans and a pan dripping gravy.

[Meal Prep Monday] Brown Rice- 3 Ways

I find I’m most successful with cooking dinner at home when I have a plan at the beginning of the week. I know which nights we will be getting home late, which nights we’re going out with friends, and which nights I’ll have more time to prep and cook meals at home. Once I have a general idea of what my week looks like, I try to work in some meal prep early in the week. I try to find even just 1 thing that I can do in bulk to save me time. Maybe it’s cooking up a large batch of chili for multiple lunches and a stash for the freezer. Or it might be roasting up multiple trays of veggies to use over multiple meals.

One of my go-to ways to prep is by cooking up a large batch of grains to use with multiple meals. This week I cooked a large batch of brown rice to use in 3 different ways throughout the week. Here are two of my strategys for meal prep, and how I plan on using the rice:

Utilize Cook Time for Prep Work

Tonight I planned on cooking enough brown rice to have with at least 3 meals throughout the week. I cooked it in my pressure cooker, but it still took close to 40 minutes from start to finish to cook the rice. I planned a simple dinner of roasted salmon and green beans that took me less than 15 minutes to prepare. That left me with the rest of the rice cooking time to prep for later in the week! I used my time to prepare fall salads for lunch to have over the next 2 days.

Utilize a Hot Oven

I knew that I would need a hot oven to roast the salmon, so I used the hot oven to also roast some butternut squash for my lunch salads. I used my prep time to peel and cube the squash, then I tossed it with olive oil, salt and pepper. Once the salmon came out of the oven, I put the squash in the oven to roast while we ate.

Brown Rice 3 Ways

My plan this week is to use the brown rice in 3 different ways:

  1. Tonight’s dinner: A simple roasted salmon with brown rice and green beans.
  2. Two days worth of fall salads (pictured): Arugula, kale, apples, dried cranberries, toasted almonds, goat cheese, roasted butternut squash, small scoop of brown rice, balsamic vinaigrette.
  3. Chicken and broccoli stir fry: I will serve the stir fry over the brown rice to use of the last of it later in the week.

Meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Just think about what you’re going to be preparing for the week, and see how you can maximize your cooking and prep time to make less work for yourself! How can you incorporate meal prep into your plan this week?


Crockpot Beef Roast- Two Ways

I love when a dinner serves double duty. I almost always make enough for dinner to have leftovers for lunch, but leftovers are even better when they can be adapted into a whole new recipe. This week I made a beef roast in the crockpot on the first night and served it with mashed potatoes and sautéed carrots. Then the next night I shredded the beef and mixed it with a soy ginger sauce for some asian-fusion tacos. I topped the tacos with cotija cheese, cilantro, and some spicy mayo. Here is how I did it:

Day 1- Morning

I salted and peppered the beef. Then I placed it in my slow cooker and added about 2 cups of beef stock. That’s it! Set it on low, and cook it for at least 8 hours (depending on how big your roast is). I cooked mine for 10 hours and it was about 2 lbs.

Tip- Some good cuts to use for roast are chuck roast, or bottom round roast. You will be cooking it low and slow, so the tougher (more inexpensive cuts) work great. Look for good distribution of fat within the cut of meat. This will all break down as it cooks and you will be left with a super tender roast.

Side note- I know a lot of crockpot roasts have you add the veggies in such as onions, potatoes, and carrots. Meh. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but there is nothing exciting to me about veggies lacking in texture and flavor after they’ve been cooked in the crockpot like that. I’ve come to enjoy crockpot roasts more when I cook the veg separately, so I can really develop the flavor and so they can maintain some sort of texture. Now, roasting the meat and veggies in the oven in a nice large cast iron dutch oven is a different story, but that’s a thought for another time.

The other reason I chose not to add veggies in with the meat is because I knew I would be using the beef in 2 different recipes and I didn’t want my tacos the next night to taste like potatoes.

Day 1- Evening

I prepped the sides and made the gravy. I chose to serve this with mashed potatoes and sautéed carrots.

Mashed Potatoes- When I make mashed potatoes I like to add butter, milk, and something tangy like sour cream or greek yogurt. I probably add about 1/4-1/3 cup of sour cream/yogurt to 4-5 cups of potatoes. I also throw in a few garlic cloves with the potatoes while I boil them. They soften and mash right into the potatoes adding a subtly garlic flavor.

Gravy- Once you have your potatoes on to boil, begin working on the gravy. Remove the meat to a cutting board and cover with foil to rest while you finish prepping. Ladle out about 2 cups of liquid from the crock pot and whisk in about 2 TBSP of corn starch. Whisk until no lumps remain, then slowly whisk that mixture back into the remaining juice in the crockpot. Depending on how much juice you have will determine how much cornstarch you need. Replace the lid and turn it up to high. Let this simmer while you finish prepping. Check it about 5 minutes later to see if it’s starting to thicken. If it hasn’t thickened at all, repeat the step and add more cornstarch. Thicken it to your desired consistency.

Sautéed Carrots- My friend showed me how to make these, and I love how simple and delicious they are. I used baby carrots this time, but you can use large carrots sliced into smaller pieces. Melt about 2 TBSP coconut oil to the pan and add your carrots. I cooked about 2 cups of carrots. Move them around in the pan, then put the lid on and cook them over medium until they soften. Once they’re almost there, remove the lid and let them finish cooking for 2-3 minutes. This helps them caramelize a little bit. I sprinkle in salt and some thyme. Done!

Reserve enough beef for tacos the next day and enjoy your roast dinner!

Day 2- Night

You can totally just shred the beef and serve it in taco shells with your desired toppings and you will have a great dinner. I like my shredded beef tacos with a soy ginger glaze.

Prepare the glaze (this makes enough for about 2 cups of shredded beef): Heat 1 tsp sesame oil in a small saucepan and add 2 cloves of garlic. Stir for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 2/3 cup water, 1/2 brown sugar, 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce, 1 TBSP oyster sauce, and 2 tsp ground white pepper. Whisk together and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until it begins to bubble and becomes thicker.

Add the beef: Shred the beef with your fingers or with 2 forks and add it to the sauce. Stir to coat and continue to simmer for a few minutes as the sauce continues to thicken.

Serve: I served them with cotija cheese, cilantro, pickled onions, pickled jalapeños, and a spicy mayo (mix mayo, lime juice, and sriracha to your desired consistency and heat level). I also grilled some pineapple chunks to go on the side and made these street corn croquettes. Finally, I lightly grilled the tortillas and it was time to eat!



The street corn croquettes from