set yourself up, so you don’t set yourself up.
A very wise woman I know often says, “If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. it’s something so simple, but I think of it often.
Life is hectic, unpredictable and challenging enough without floating through the week unprepared and without a plan. For me, if I don’t set myself up for my week before it begins, I feel like I spend the remaining days, once it begins, trying to catch up, squeeze things in and “last minute” everything.
I hate that feeling.
Conversely, when J.I. and I spend a few hours cooking together our week is much calmer and easy. At the end of our little prep “sesh” we feel connected, motivated and downright ducky. Seriously.
Here’s how we do it:
Bring on the meats!…and fishes.
Jeanine, (J.I.) my love and partner in crime (and business), is as Italian as they come. If you like meatballs, she’s your girl. Her full on Sunday balls are something to sing in the shower about Monday morning. Really, they are. That version, though, is made with soaked crusty bread and lots of grated cheese. We remove both and sub them out for slowly cooked eggplant, onion and wild mushrooms, an alternative cheese (made from almond or cashew) and some nutritional yeast. She adds her secret ingredients, and I may slip in one of mine (like my all-time fave, Jacobsen Black Garlic Salt) and they go into the Sunday gravy just like that….Boom, meaty treats for the rest of the week, not to mention the tasty sauce. I will eat a cold meatball or two after the gym every day that week. We might use the gravy for zucchini noodles and satisfy our old-school spaghetti and meatball hankering. I’m extremely happy standing in front of the fridge (sorry mom, the fridge door is open) scarfing one down solo dolo.
When we’re sick of meatballs she makes chicken salad. Next in rotation, tuna salad. A little aquafaba “schmayo” or smashed avocado, some citrus, celery leaves, thin thin red onion, a few capers, olives, delicious jarred piquillo pepper. Uh oh, I crossed the line with the pepper maybe even the caper, damn chef mode.
And, we make hard-boiled eggs.
The love of all our lives. Carbs.
We make a bunch of baked sweet potatoes (sometimes Japanese, sometimes good ol’ yams),yucca mash, sketti squash, white rice, or rice noodles (yes, we will get to your gasp and furrowed brow over the rice later, I promise.) We ate a lot of quinoa when we “went all healthy like”, so we don’t make it often but it is a solid go-to cold or hot. Once in a while, we make a “sweet treat” like coconut milk tapioca pudding or alternative flour banana chocolate muffins. These are especially convenient as portable pre or post gym options
Eat lots of green (and other brightly colored) greens.
Back to you J.I. She’ll make slow-cooked broccoli rabe with garlic and olive oil, fresh stem on spinach, steamed asparagus, sheet pans of roasted eggplant, peppers and onions. I might throw in a pickled veggie, guacamole or vinaigrette experiment. We buy some probiotic umami bombs like kimchi and veggie kraut at the market as well. I’ll eat them all by their lonesome or use them as an often mix-in for a breakfast bowl.
Now we have the basic, quick healthy options we can continue to build on all week. We’ll add a salad at the restaurant, or grilled chicken thighs, salmon or a grass-fed burger on a Friday night.
If you know us or haven’t read any of my other posts you might be thinking, “wait, they own a restaurant, why don’t they cook and eat there?” The truth is, when our feet hit the restaurant, it’s not about us anymore. It’s about our guests, staff and real-life job responsibilities of being a chef and a general manager.
We’ve divided in the morning, went to get our mornin’ sweat on and may or may not see each other at home before work. The food gets divided, the biggest portion headed to the one little shelf we’re allowed at the restaurant, some eaten right away, the rest stays home, jiggidy jig.
I joke with my team every week about moving my life out on Sunday night and back Tuesday morning, but it works best for us that way. We already made the healthy choices on an off day, when we were calm and less rushed. The ball is rolling, all we have to do is stick to the plan and follow through.
Easier said than done, right?
Only one way to find out.
Prep it up buttercup, and I guarantee you win the week more often than you lose it.