Written by Glens Falls Mom, featuring Jenn Wolfe
We all know preparing weekly lunches and snacks ahead of time sets us up for success for the week. If our lunches are yummy enough, it’s much easier to pass up that treat someone baked and left in the office break room. We might be less likely to bust open a bag of chips after work if there are snacks in the fridge already cut up and ready to eat.
But who has time to give up an entire day off of work to cook?
Here’s how Sunday prep usually goes for me:
- Check Pinterest for meal prep ideas.
- Pick out the most complicated (but delicious-looking!) prep plan ever.
- Print out pages and pages of shopping lists.
- Spend half the day at the grocery store.
- Spend the other half making a disaster out of the kitchen.
- Finally fill the fridge with meals for the week and realize I have nothing for dinner tonight.
- Ignore all the dishes in the sink and order pizza.
- Decide not to do Sunday prep ever again.
(And that was BEFORE I had a baby!)
So each Sunday when I see my friend Jenn Wolfe posting her Sunday meal prep pictures on Facebook, I wonder how she has it all together. She is a busy mom to twin girls, a teacher, and she runs a business on the side! Where is she finding time to make health a priority for her family? I had to find out.
Of course, Jenn being the generous person she is, she offered to meet with me to share her tips and tricks! Here’s the really exciting part. She’s going to share with you too!
We’re thrilled to present the first article in our Sunday prep series, where Jenn will share her meal prep plans in hopes of inspiring you to get in (and out of) the kitchen on Sundays. It’s all about your health and the health of your family.
When we started discussing how we would lay out the series, I asked Jenn if she wanted to do recipes and shopping lists (like the Pinterest-style Sunday preps I mentioned above). Her answer was no! She wanted to keep things simple. (I knew I liked this girl!)
Our Sunday prep series will give you ideas for an easy weekly meal plan, but any ingredient can be easily substituted for something your family likes. Everything is designed to be done and ready to go without taking up your entire Sunday.
Let’s get to know Jenn and why she’s so passionate about health and wellness, then we’ll get straight to the cookin’!
We love your posts about Sunday food prep and inspirational quotes! What are some ways you spread awareness about health and wellness? How does it tie in with your business?
I love to hear my posts are helpful! I’m passionate about empowering women to take charge of their health and wellness. Women are often the gate keepers of nutrition in their home. They may do the grocery shopping and most of the cooking. Teaching women how to take charge of these aspects of their life impacts the rest of their family.
I have been a Independent Distributor with AdvoCare for 3.5 years. I offer free coaching to all clients. I teach people how to eat clean, grocery shop, supplement properly to fill nutritional gaps, incorporate exercise and of course, food prep.
I offer consults to discuss goals, supplementation, workouts and strategies for success. I also have get-togethers at my house a couple times a month. Women come for a multitude of reasons- support, accountability, interest and ideas. I offer conference calls as well, so I can reach women that are not local. My philosophy is where there is a will there is a way. I’ll support you in any way I can. Your goal becomes my goal.
What inspired you to begin your journey with health? What are some of your goals going forward?
I was inspired by some of my close friends that were having success with AdvoCare. I had never used supplementation before, but was feeling very stuck and insecure in my own skin 3.5 years ago. After having my girls, I felt like everything changed. Having been an athlete growing up and being active I was able to maintain a healthy weight, and eat what I wanted. That all changed.
I was around 200 lbs and I would yo-yo diet by restricting calories and strapping myself to a cardio machine. I’d lose the weight, only to gain it right back when what I was doing wasn’t sustainable anymore. I was frustrated, and simply not being the mom or wife I wanted to be.
I said yes to AdvoCare and began the 24 Day Challenge. It is a very structured, fool-proof program offering a daily meal guide, cook book, and grocery shopping list. I realized then that I had no idea how to eat, cook healthy, or supplement properly. Those 24 days were the catalyst to everything that has happened since. I knew if I could do this, anyone could!
I have lost over 50 lbs, went from a size 14/16 to a size 8/10. From that point on I have shared with others, and expanded on what I can offer my clients. My goals moving forward are to continue helping others realize this is something even the busiest person can do.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day. I’m busy too- I teach kindergarten full time, raise two little girls, coach their sports year round, and also run a business. I find value in what I offer and what I provide to my family. We aren’t running through a drive thru on our busy nights because we have a healthy meal waiting for us. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.
Tell us about a failure, challenge, or a time you had to overcome a fear during your journey.
Full disclosure and vulnerability… (Being more vulnerable is my New Year’s Resolution) I am currently experiencing my biggest challenge ever in my journey, and possibly in my life. I have been living with Rheumatoid Arthritis for years, but am dealing with a side affect from the medication I was on. It’s directly affecting my lungs. I am having difficulty breathing, am often short of breath, and experience extreme fatigue. I have also recently been diagnosed with Chronic Lyme.
Why is this so difficult? I love working out, typically 5-6 times a week, and I haven’t been able to since November. I am often so tired I hardly want to get out of bed, let alone work, cook, clean, etc. While these obstacles are difficult to be dealing with, I know that there is a lot still in my control.
I know I feel better when I eat better. That motivates me to continue food prep and move my body even if it’s just walking or stretching. I’ve been able to maintain my weight even though I haven’t been able to workout. This is directly related to food prep and my mindset. After all, nutrition is 80% of a healthy lifestyle.
What is the secret to making time for health as a busy mom?
You have to prioritize. Sometimes you have to look at your house and say, “Maybe the house isn’t perfect today, but I’m going to get my workout in.” Many times I wake up early before the day gets away from me and work out, or even food prep. That way I don’t feel “mom guilt” or like I’m missing out on too much. Some women I coach struggle because they are always at their kid’s practices or events, so I recommend that they walk during the practice or design workouts that they can do while they wait. Health is the greatest wealth of all.
Let’s talk Sunday prep. Why do you find it so important to your weekly routine?
It’s crucial to my weekly routine. I teach full time, so I am out of the house each day until 4 or 5:30 on the days I work out or have meetings. If we have sports, we typically aren’t home until 7-8pm. Having food prepped and ready to go saves us from binge eating, ordering out, or hitting up a drive-thru.
It saves a lot of time by simply mixing and matching food that is already cooked and simply heating it up. Dinner is on the table in less than 10 minutes. It also saves money. Eating out is expensive!
What are your tips for making shopping for Sunday prep quick and easy?
–Focus on the meal you struggle with most. If you rush to get breakfast in, make some easy eggs cups, make ahead breakfast sandwiches, etc. If you struggle with lunch/dinner, prep those items you need most.
–Make a plan, stick to your grocery list. This is time and money saving! I’ve found Hannaford To Go to be extremely helpful. Don’t try to shop and prep in one day, that can be overwhelming.
–Keep it simple! Don’t attempt several new recipes. It will monopolize your time and you will never want to do it again. Think/shop/cook in food groups and then mix and match.
–Mix things up. You don’t want to be bored. Food should be fun!
–Have plenty of storage containers and zip lock baggies handy.
What does a typical Sunday prep look like for you?
A typical Sunday prep takes me about 2 hours start to finish, including clean up. I make and focus on lunches and dinners.
When I cook, I start with the items with the longest cooking time, typically my protein- a roast chicken, turkey meatloaf, cauliflower rice stir fry, stuffed peppers, etc.
While my oven is being used, I’m chopping veggies to be roasted.
After that I’m prepping my salads for the week and my dinner for that night. (I learned this the hard way. I would finish all my food prep for the week, and forget completely about dinner that night!) Now, I put dinner in the crock pot.
Some dinners I make in the crock pot are roast chicken, ground turkey and quinoa burrito bowls, pot roast, homemade soups and chili.
I also make hard boiled eggs or egg white muffins for snacks, and I bag nuts for when we are on the go or as salad toppers.
I plan for 3-4 days. If I get to Wednesday and I find I have a lot of leftovers, I will freeze and use later.
Food prep shouldn’t be overwhelming, start small, and keep it simple.
Ok, let’s get into the nitty gritty. What’s cookin’ this week, Jenn?
To start, you’ll want to get your dinner for tonight going in the crock pot. You can set it up now and forget about it for the day!
Crock Pot Chicken
Pesto Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken
Pesto Artichoke Chicken
Chicken, Peppers and Onions
While all of this is cooking, you can start chopping veggies and preparing snacks and salad toppers.
Roasted Veggie Tray
Sweet Potato Mash
Hard Boiled Eggs
Nuts, Trail Mix, Celery
- On Wednesday, freeze any leftovers for lunches/dinners next week!
- Add in egg white muffins or another breakfast item if desired.
- Start simple! We purposefully only used chicken this week and used the same ingredient in more than one dish to keep the grocery list short and the kitchen time for a minimum. You want to get IN the kitchen and OUT of the kitchen! You can add more variety as you get your techniques down.
- All this prep was done before the kids and husband were out of bed. The goal is not to spend the entire day in the kitchen. Remember to shop ahead of time!
And here’s the finished product!
If you’re a shopping list person, here it is!
What advice would you give other moms interested in making health a priority for their family?
Support and accountability are extremely important. I’m here to help and support you in your transition. Start with one thing and slowly build. If you try to do food prep, diet, exercise, supplementation, convincing your whole family to join you, it can be very overwhelming. Truly, I started with myself, and from there, over time, it spread to my entire family both immediate and extended.
Here’s how to contact Jenn for guidance on health and wellness, information on AdvoCare, your financial goals, or to become part of her team of leaders:
Facebook: Jenn Wolfe /jennifer.wolfe.77715
A special thank you to Jenn for helping us with this series! Keep following along for the next post in our Sunday Prep Series.