There’s a period of time between when you decide to make a change until the point where some high impact changes become habit and you’re seeing some progress. On the other side of this window the person is generally starting to see some tangible evidence that they’re on the way to reaching their goals; the scale is moving, changes in the tape measure, changes in the mirror. The main key to navigating this window where flexible dieting journey’s die, from my perspective, is turning some new, strange at first behaviors into the new norm as quickly as possible. One of the great tools is food prep, and one of the great ways to make food prep as effortless as possible is the slow cooker. I’ll admit I’m a foodie and fought it for years (“what, you’re not going to brown the meat first and deglaze? You’re going to lose all that flavor!”). Once I got over myself I was able to find the right compromise: 1. Not every meal has to be the best thing I could prepare, 2. a lot of Sundays during the nice weather I don’t want to be cooking, and 3. food from a slow cooker can still be really good and it’s virtually no effort. Now I use the slow cooker every week. You can basically throw anything in there and modify recipes any way your heart desires. Here’s something I made early in the week and I completely winged it:
1.) 3.7 lbs of 93% lean ground beef. I bought this because it is in the greater than 90% lean category. Once you start using fattier cuts—assuming you’re aiming for 25-35% of your calories from fat—any substantial amount of the beef is going eat up your allotted fat too quickly. Not that you can’t fit fattier cuts into your daily intake, but if you’re meal prepping you’re generally planning to eat it 1-2 times per day. Also, it was on sale, so that’s why I ended up with so much of it. Because I’m cooking for one, I froze half the finished product in one serving containers so I wouldn’t get sick of it and have some of it go to waste, throwing away any cost savings.
2.) Seasoning packet. I was feeling real lazy and couldn’t even be brought to make my own spice mix. Watch out on these and one where salt is the first ingredient and where there are a bunch of high school chemistry looking ingredient on there. You want actual spices and dried vegetables in the spice mixes! This one has about 1,200mg of sodium in the whole packet, which isn’t unreasonable given the nearly four pounds of meat and other ingredients. For comparison’s sake, a Chipotle burrito has about 1,800mg of sodium. My goal for the day is 2,300mg, so I’m not introducing a huge amount of sodium.
3.) Diced tomatoes. I generally buy whole peeled and crush by hand, but nope, making this as easy as possible and I didn’t buy San Marzano.
4.) One diced onion and two sliced Jalapeños.
That’s it: mixed it all in the slow cooked and cooked on high for 3 hours, remixing a couple times during cooking to break up the beef.
I also cooked short grain brown rice to go with it. I cook this in the rice cooker with just water and a little salt. When it finishes cooking I toss in one ½ TBSP of olive oil for each cup of rice, dry. This keeps the rice from getting dry and gives it a nice rich flavor once when it’s reheated. Also good with coconut oil.
Once it was done cooking I split it up into 15 equal servings: 5g carbs, 8g fat, 24g protein (187 calories). Served with one serving of rice adds 35g carbs, 4g fat, 3g protein (170 calories).