This week’s episode is all about how you can save money and time by planning and prepping meals.
On today’s podcast, Russ and Mika are talking about something that just about everybody loves: food.
Specifically, they are going to be talking about planning and prep meals. Meal planning is incredibly important, especially for entrepreneurs and families who struggle to find the time to cook their meals.
In this episode, they will be discussing the importance of meal planning, how they have approached it throughout their lives, and some specific advice on how you can plan and prep your own meals. You’ll also hear some practical tips for shopping, and some of their go-to meals to prep for the family.
In this episode, you will learn:
• How preparing meals can save you time and money.
• The ways that our meal planning has evolved as our family has grown.
• What our shopping and meal planning looks like each week.
• Some of our favorite meals to prepare for the week.
Mentioned in this episode:
• Russ Perry on Instagram
• Mika Perry on Instagram
• The Sober Entrepreneur by Russ Perry
• The Russ Perry Show
• Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk
• The Skinny Confidential Podcast with Dr. Steven Gundry
• Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand
• Aria Sky Suites in Vegas
• The Growth Handbook brought to you by Intercom
• When I Was Older by Billie Ellish
• Takashi Murakami
• Orangetheory Fitness
• Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan
• Pete’s Paleo
• Scratch Culinary
• Trifecta Nutrition
• Impact Church
• The Cosmopolitan
• Ball Wide Mouth Glass Jars
• Pyrex Peel Lids
Do you have questions, comments or suggestions for this show? Send us an email at Hello@GoodtoBeHomePodcast.com!
Russ Perry: I’m Russ Perry.
Mika Perry: And I’m Mika Perry, and you’re listening to Good to be Home.
Russ Perry: Good to be Home is a weekly exploration of entrepreneurship, family, marriage, sobriety, and how we balance our business and life.
Mika Perry: From our family to yours, thanks for joining us, and welcome to our home.
Russ Perry: Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of Good to be Home. I am your cohost, Russ Perry.
Mika Perry: And I am your other cohost, Mika Perry.
Russ Perry: Today we are talking about something that everyone needs, everyone likes, and some people, I don’t know, maybe not know a lot about it, and that is food.
Mika Perry: Food, specifically meal-planning and prepping. We think this is huge, especially for entrepreneurs and families.
Russ Perry: Right. Fitness guys and gals, food prepping’s not just for you anymore, it’s for us.
Mika Perry: That’s right.
Russ Perry: But before we get to that, we’re gonna jump into our reading, listening, eating, and loving. Mika, take us away.
Mika Perry: All right, so for reading, I am reading Crush It. On an earlier episode, I mentioned Crushing It, by Gary V., and I took a step backwards and I’m reading his original book in the series, you could say, and it is about developing your online personal brand. So we actually just recently talked about this on an episode on social media, how it’s important to develop your personal brand. He called it a long time ago, like how ago was this book-
Russ Perry: Oh it’s …
Mika Perry: Like a decade, right?
Russ Perry: Yeah it was written last decade.
Mika Perry: Yeah, I think it was around the financial crisis because he mentions it. So he called it a long time ago, and I think that information is still very relevant, so I’m enjoying reading that. It’s a good basics.
Russ Perry: I’m still amazed he’s not known by people.
Mika Perry: I know.
Russ Perry: When you were like, “I’m reading this book by Gary Vaynerchuk”, I was like oh my gosh that book, you’re just reading this stuff?
Mika Perry: Well I’m just reading it, but I’ve known about him since he had Wine Library.
Russ Perry: Oh okay.
Mika Perry: Yeah, I’ve seen that before.
Russ Perry: Fair enough.
Mika Perry: Okay, listening. I am in the middle of an episode on The Skinny Confidential of Dr. Steven Gundry. He has made his rounds around the podcast because he’s so knowledgeable and well-known, I’m really excited that he made it onto one of my favorite podcasts, The Skinny Confidential. He is the author of The Plant Paradox, and he actually has a problem with some vegetables, and it’s not about just eat vegan or just eat paleo, it’s actually the ingredients inside of vegetables and other plant-based, well plants that have lectin, lectin is the problem, and also things in beans and how you cook quinoa can lead to cancer, all sorts of things, so it’s really interesting. I’ve heard him on many other podcasts, but I’m in the middle of hearing him in this iteration of an interview.
Russ Perry: I mean I thought being vegan was pretty controversy-free, but apparently not.
Mika Perry: Yeah, there’s a lot of controversy around vegan too.
Russ Perry: Like inside of their own circles.
Mika Perry: Yeah.
Russ Perry: Okay.
Mika Perry: Okay, oh it’s still me.
Russ Perry: You’re still on.
Mika Perry: Eating, we went to Vegas, and we had a fabulous dinner at Joel Robuchon at the MGM. He has two restaurants there, the L’atalier, and his original, the big guns restaurant. We went there on a Friday night with friends of ours to celebrate Russ’s birthdays. We had how many courses? 17, 18?
Russ Perry: Yeah, it was [crosstalk]
Mika Perry: I mean it was hours, we got out of there around midnight, and huge tasting menu, beautiful, pretty much the epitome of French fine dining but with really fun elements. They had a bread cart, they had a mint cart where they snip mint and leaves to make a herbal tea. They had a butter cart where they shave butter for you, it was fantastic, so I loved it. If you’re in Vegas, try to get a reservation there, it’s worth it. Finally, loving. In Vegas, we stayed for the second time at Aria Sky Suites. Don’t you love that place?
Russ Perry: It’s fantastic.
Mika Perry: It’s our new favorite place in Vegas. We haven’t stayed everywhere. In fact up until then, we had been loving the Cosmopolitan next door, but I think we’ve kinda graduated from that demographic. I know a lot of people love the Wynn, but Aria Sky Suites, very private, you don’t have to walk through the casino, there’s-
Russ Perry: You don’t get yelled at by drunk people in bathing suits.
Mika Perry: No, it’s very quiet, and we don’t party or anything, we’re pretty subdued in Vegas, so it’s a nice relaxing time there. So if you need a hotel in Vegas, check out Aria Sky Suites.
Russ Perry: All right, so what am I reading? I am reading something actually online, but I printed it, old school fashion, The Intercom Growth Handbook. So Intercom is an app we use for our client communication, and they publish pretty regularly these really good guides, and it’s effectively excerpts from their podcast, excerpts from their blog, and they compile it all around certain topics. So I just started reading it and it’s fantastic. It’s a page an idea, so I just read a couple pages and I have a couple ideas already that I’m using for our design [inaudible] in fact I’m gonna be working on it later today. What am I listening to? I am listening to the song, When I Was Older, by Billie Eilish. Have you heard about her?
She is, I just looked her up, I was looking her up on Wikipedia before this. She’s 17, and is like crushing this genre of folk-y, raspy singing, female-led vocals, but it’s entrancing. You listen to it and you’re whisked away to Ireland. I know she, reading in my Wikipedia study, her family had a lot of Irish musical roots, but she’s gonna be someone to watch out for. I could see her being the next Lady Gaga, just with her style and her intrigue and her uniqueness and her musical, what she creates, it’s fantastic. And the designer that I love, the Japanese designer-
Mika Perry: Takashi Murakami?
Russ Perry: Takashi Murakami, they’re buds. So I always see her wearing his clothing.
Mika Perry: Is that how you found her?
Russ Perry: No, I found her through hearing her, she had a couple big songs, but then I was like, she’s very striking. She doesn’t look famous at all, she just looks like a 17 year old, I don’t know, it’s hard to describe. This is a podcast so it’s hard to describe that. But then I saw her decked out at some awards with the flower burst pattern trench coat. I was like oh, okay, I wish I was friends with Takashi Murakami. I’m all mixed up in my list here because it’s out of order. What am I-
Mika Perry: Eating.
Russ Perry: Eating, well you took my thunder, I will go after my two favorite courses on that monster dinner we had, which was literally four hours. We got there at, oh no a little less, like three and a half hours. First was the glitter butterfly. There was the final dessert, and there were these marshmallow-made butterfly that looked like paper fine art filled with glitter, and I was blown away by the intricacy of it.
Mika Perry: And it was in a glass bowl and it looked like you were eating a garden, like a mossy forest garden, but it was actually everything was made out of chocolate.
Russ Perry: Yeah, and then I’m gonna throw this out there, because I usually don’t like this, but I loved it, but was the pate.
Mika Perry: No, foie gras.
Russ Perry: Oh, foie gras, sorry.
Mika Perry: You liked it because it wasn’t pate.
Russ Perry: Yeah, foie gras, it’s hard to say.
Mika Perry: Foie gras.
Russ Perry: But still, I’ve never really liked that, and it was fantastic. We had it paired with a steak, it was insane.
Mika Perry: They put foie gras and truffle on pretty much every other dish that came out, a lot of truffles and foie gras.
Russ Perry: Yeah, which I’m not really used to. What am I loving? I’m loving your Christmas present, the Peloton Bike, which is, thanks for letting me use it so much. It has been fantastic to use, especially at night when you don’t, you missed a workout, you weren’t able to do it, and you just wanna get after it. I remember doing that with dinner like I like, it was like I’m gonna go get a spin in, get a ride in, and it’s just fantastic. Super pumped up about the classes.
All right, so you can get our whole list, as well as links to other things over on our website, goodtobehomepodcast.com, as well as links to past episodes if you’re curious. But today, we’re gonna get back to the topic on food and meal prep. This topic is fun because it’s something that as we were planning it, we realized entrepreneurs, this is a huge thing for many people. How do you get better at how you fill yourself?
Mika Perry: Right, and it’s a bit of a catch-22 because a lot of us, I know you and I both do this, and I’m sure you listening may do this as well, but you forget to eat, or you are starving when it’s finally time to eat and you haven’t prepped anything, or you don’t know what to eat, so you end up getting something that’s convenient, and therefore perhaps not as healthy, or you just eat everything in sight. So the catch-22 is that you need time to prep your meals, but then meal prepping gives you more time, does that make sense?
Russ Perry: Yeah, absolutely. It’s the same I say about meditation like people don’t wanna meditate, “I don’t have time to meditate”, but actually meditation gives you more focus throughout the day to do more, when you actually make time for it.
Mika Perry: Therefore giving you more time, yeah.
Russ Perry: Yeah, so practically, let’s just talk real practically how that works, how you feel. Let’s not get into the details of meal prep, although I think people wanna hear your, you’re like a master at it when you really get into it. But when I think about eating, I also think about socializing, I think about going places, doing it with other people. I find that with meal prepping, you’re really looking at food as a function, not so much as this experience, or like we did in Vegas, let’s have big long drawn-out experience around it.
Mika Perry: Absolutely, it’s changing your mindset around food to look at it as fuel. It doesn’t have to be boring, you could still make it tasty and make it fun, but it really is looking at each ingredient that you put into your body as some sort of beneficial, it’s a purposeful mindset.
Russ Perry: Right, and I know a lot of the times I will, before or when I don’t meal prep, I will default to eating with others or going out, finding food, and it just adds up. It adds up, half an hour here, 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there, whereas if there’s a fridge full of something I can just grab, and yeah I don’t have to eat in an isolation tank by myself, I could sit around with someone, but it’s there, it’s ready to go, I can eat, and I can be back at whatever I’m at, fueled, feeling good, feeling full and healthy. It just sets me on an awesome course for the rest of the day, or for the morning if it’s something I’m grabbing in the morning.
Mika Perry: You mentioned adding up, it also adds up with calories, and it adds up with money too, if you are grabbing something from your corner shop or Uber Eats all the time, it adds up, and then most likely if it’s prepared outside of your control, they’re adding ingredients that are adding calories or fat or things that you just don’t want, sodium, a lot of salt.
Russ Perry: I love salt though, I mean I couldn’t have pickles without salt.
Mika Perry: True.
Russ Perry: Can’t have that.
Mika Perry: Nothing wrong with salt, and especially Himalayan sea salt, you put that in your water.
Russ Perry: I did.
Mika Perry: What’s the purpose of that?
Russ Perry: I don’t know really. My training coach just told me to have a glass of water with Himalayan salt in the morning, so I do it.
Mika Perry: It has a lot, it’s very mineral-rich, and you definitely wanna select that over, I think it’s not as inflammatory. I actually, our girls love to eat rice, love rice, and so this morning they had it for breakfast. I told them they can sprinkle pink salt on it.
Russ Perry: Oh, did they.
Mika Perry: Paige loved it, Reese was like, “No, I didn’t want it.”
Russ Perry: She just wants-
Mika Perry: She wanted the Japanese seasoning called furikake, but we’ll get into bringing the family kid aspect into meal planning and prepping into this, but let’s talk about the ways that we have used meal prepping and planning over the course of our lives as individuals, as business owners, as a family, and also how it related to our fitness goals and health goals, not just fitness but health too.
Russ Perry: Right, so meal prep isn’t just little Tupperwares of food in your fridge, there different ways to look at this topic. That first time I’d say we fell into the meal planning, prepping category, was when we decided to go paleo. So choosing a diet, whether it’s a type of diet where you’re only eating certain kinds of foods, or we mentioned being vegan, now there’s keto, there’s all sorts of things out there, pescatarian, all of that falls into the bucket of meal prep. It’s something that you can basically get a framework to eat better and eat healthier and have some guidelines that end up guiding you into other areas of it.
Mika Perry: Now you mentioned meal prep, I would correct that and say it’s meal planning.
Russ Perry: Meal planning, yeah.
Mika Perry: Because you’re planning what you are going to eat for the day, for the week, for an extended period of time. Meal prepping is now taking the parameters within your meal plan, and then planning ahead and creating those meals.
Russ Perry: I just got served a paleo correction, yeah you’re right.
Mika Perry: No any, all correction.
Russ Perry: Meal planning precedes meal prepping.
Mika Perry: Yes.
Russ Perry: So that’s where you start, is like what do I want to identify with? We were doing a fitness challenge at Orangetheory fitness, by the way is an awesome place to start any fitness journey. It’s fun, high-energy, totally done for you, you just show up and sweat. Out of that, they had a fitness weight loss 30 or 60?
Mika Perry: Six weeks.
Russ Perry: Six weeks challenge, and from there we went into the challenge also saying, “Hey, if we want to win, which we’re competitive, we need to eat better, and we stepped into the paleo world.
Mika Perry: And we won. I got first place, got a big check, you got second place.
Russ Perry: I did get second place.
Mika Perry: Of the whole studio.
Russ Perry: Yeah, I think the person who got first place for me was a professional weight loss winner.
Mika Perry: Challenge winner, yeah.
Russ Perry: Because he was talking about how he’s won multiple times, I’m like shouldn’t you only really be able to win once if you’re really sticking to it?
Mika Perry: If you’re being honest, yeah, I agree. But yeah, that was the beginning of where we changed our mindset around food. It was the first time we became more aware of the purpose of food, how the function of the food fit into our goals. Before then, we loved cooking. I loved looking up recipes and reading cookbooks, I still do, but I would just make whatever sounded good.
When we had the goal of the weight loss challenge, I knew that cutting out carbs would be good. It was the height of paleo, so we adopted that diet, or that type of eating, and created a meal plan around it. I prepped, that’s when I started my Sunday meal preps. We had Maddox, she was like first grade, second grade, third grade, kind of in that timeframe, and Reese had been born. She wasn’t quite one yet, so I had some baby weight to lose as well so that was a huge motivation for me.
Maddie was great because she will still eat anything. So we were basically meal prepping for the three of us, as a family of three at that time, because Reese was just a little baby, Paige hadn’t come around yet. What I would do is just cook up a bunch of proteins, and bunch of vegetables, and every day of the week, I would pair a protein and a vegetable, and that was basically your dinner. That’s where I started learning how to make one of our favorite recipes, which is grilled chicken thighs on the grill.
Even now our kids will, this is one type of meal that all of us will eat for dinner happily, and it’s grilled chicken thighs seasoned on both sides with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. It almost tastes to me like yakitori in Japan, which is like chicken skewers, and it’s really good. So you season that pretty heavily and then grill it both sides on the grill and it’s done, and then I would also grill or roast red bell peppers, create a kale salad, chop up cauliflower, chop up sweet potatoes, make other salad, and so we’d create just a variety of ingredients that then I would simply pair together.
One cookbook I recommend if you’re interested in paleo or looking for some new ideas is one called Well Fed. That book gave me the idea that you don’t have to make a recipe every night. You can just either in advance prepare, or every night prepare, simple meats and vegetables, and just pair them together kind of like, she called it a hot plate, so it’s just a plate of good food. Then you can use some seasoning, maybe low-calorie seasonings or sauces.
Russ Perry: Cholula.
Mika Perry: You could do hot sauce, yep, and just create some flavors, even with fresh herbs, to kind of amp the flavor factor. We lost, we really leaned out. At that time, we did have one cheat meal a week, do you remember that?
Russ Perry: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mika Perry: We would eat clean all week, and then like Friday or Saturday we would have a cheat meal. Back then we were still drinking, so I remember that was the one night we drank wine, or you had a beer or something. I remember, and I think you felt the same way, that when that cheat meal rolled around, we weren’t craving carbs and craving all the junk food and pizzas. If you cleanse your system out of the sugars and the high carbs, you don’t crave it as much.
So I remember it would be like, “Let’s throw in maybe some rice, or a cup of pasta”, but we wouldn’t really go to town, and I loved that feeling. I still have really fond memories of that initial first time we did all this healthy clean eating, because it worked really well. Since then, it’s evolved, really with the addition of more children into our family.
Russ Perry: Right, it’s been harder. Let me just add before we get into that, I would say from the entrepreneurial standpoint, always having something ready to go was key. In addition to prepping the meals is I would get a big bag of almonds, divide it up into the appropriate serving size, which is way smaller than you actually think, a quarter of a cup is like itty bitty, but putting that in little baggies so that I could just have a snack ready to go, and I learned that when I was planning to fuel myself throughout the day, strategically, that my output and my focus and my creativity and everything would be at a higher level, because I wasn’t wandering about at some point midday, starving or distracted because I’m so hungry and rummaging for the nut pack, the nut and cheese tray leftover from Christmas that’s still around that I’m like [inaudible] and just eating it.
So this planning piece for me as an entrepreneur, what Mika’s talking about, was so helpful for me to just be better to grow the businesses, because at that time, there was no design Design Pickle, there was no, I was working in the agency world and I was oscillating between a lot of travel, which I would be terrible about eating, and then when I came back and I had this plan and I had things readily available that were just simple and I knew it was there, the consistency, it was just fantastic for me on my end.
Mika Perry: Yeah, and then on my end as a mom, at that time I had just stopped teaching and I was a stay-at-home mom. For me, I found a lot of value out of spending one day a week making almost everything. And by making, I don’t mean you actually cook and heat everything, you just have a lot of items ready for you. For example, your broccoli is cleaned and chopped up, your cauliflower, it’s not sitting in your fridge as a head of cauliflower, and then when you’re ready to eat it you chop it up.
Doing that every single night, especially with a baby, just was stressful. So instead on Sunday, like you had the kids, or they were just playing around me in the kitchen, I would cut up the cauliflower and put it in a Ziploc bag, and peel and dice up the sweet potatoes, you would go out to the grill that we had in our backyard and you would grill the red peppers and onions and the chicken and the fish, or shrimp. There’s another one, a marinated lemon chicken that I would make in a Ziploc bag. I would cut up the kale but I wouldn’t put the marinade or the salad dressing on it quite yet. So it’s really prepping, if you know anything about food service it’s like a mise en place, like a prepping all your ingredients, so that when the order comes in you have all the ingredients ready for you. So for me, the order was every night at dinner, I would be ready, like here we go, and it would make it so much faster. The energy that it took was a lot less.
Russ Perry: Right, so do you wanna walk us through a Sunday prep session before we get into the family stuff, or should we talk about how this has evolved over into the family? Because I know-
Mika Perry: Evolve, because I think the next evolution of meal planning comes to where I started doing the actual packaged meal prep containers, and macros, and weighing ingredients.
Russ Perry: Okay.
Mika Perry: So much more aligned to a fitness aspect.
Russ Perry: But you will walk us through?
Mika Perry: Yes, oh absolutely.
Russ Perry: Okay, I’m dying to know.
Mika Perry: Yes, and this is something that actually my blog readers have been asking for for a long time, and on Instagram, because I share this a lot on stories. It’s like, “Please do a meal prepping, please do one”, and there’s so much, there’s years behind this. I’ve done guest blogs on other blogs for meal planning and prepping, and there’s just so much to it that I feel a lot of pressure of this post being really good, so I’ve been putting it off because there’s just so much to share. So it is coming, part of the motivation for me to get this blog post out is doing this podcast, so that I can kind of have both come out around the same time, so I’m hitting you from all angles, finally [crosstalk]
Russ Perry: Multisensory, you know the real torture right now?
Mika Perry: Are you hungry?
Russ Perry: I’m doing another one of those fasts, so this is a painful episode.
Mika Perry: A pain, let’s talk about your fast at the end, because I think we should talk about the crazy eating life of Russ Perry at some point.
Russ Perry: That’ll be a separate episode.
Mika Perry: Yeah. Okay so what we just described in our first go at meal prepping was actually building the foundation and the basics that I continue today. So then when I hired a trainer to do a fitness competition, which I’ve mentioned before I did not do the competition, but I trained for it. That was kind of a bucket list type of item that I wanted to do, and in doing so I was like all right, I really need to eat super clean and really nail down my nutrition. There’s plenty of meal prep services all around. Russ, you can talk about later the different services you have used just for convenience. I just thought, “You know what? I’m pretty good at this, I can do this myself”, and I was pretty good at it.
So what I did was I portioned out and created every single meal and snack I ate every single day. What was great about this is that I learned about macros, which is thinking of each meal you eat as a division of protein, fat, and carbs. So all foods have those basic nutritional building blocks, so you’re not thinking about vitamins or anything, you’re thinking about, or really even calories. You do add up to a certain caloric limit every day, but you think about how much protein do you wanna eat per meal, per day, and so on?
Russ Perry: Right, because 200 calories of fat is different than 200 calories of carbs, which is different than 200 calories of protein.
Mika Perry: Correct, and what was awesome and different for me was that I was bringing carbs back into my life, and that felt weird, to eat carbs and to measure carbs, and actually have that be the second most biggest thing that I ate. It would be protein, then carbs, then fat. Also, if you eat any sort of low-fat diet, bringing that back in can be kind of uncomfortable, so it really challenges your mental shifts, and your beliefs, and your mindset around food in some ways.
Another benefit of macros is that you can pretty much anything you want, and there’s even apps that help you. MyFitnessPal I think is one that I used, and you can look up any food, including restaurant foods, and know the breakdown of macros. So as long as it fit into your macros, quote-unquote, which you’ll hear in the fitness and food prepping and that sort of meal prepping world, if it fits in your macros, you can eat it, which is nice because then you don’t feel as limited, so that was nice.
There’s a lot of cons with macro counting. I think if you are a single person preparing just meals for yourself, pretty easy. It is time-consuming, you have to use measuring cups and a scale and measure everything out, but after you do it a while, you can visually see how much you need for rice or whatever, or chicken or a vegetable, what a cup looks like and so forth. Even I got pretty good at four grams of chicken, I knew what that looked like.
But then if you start bringing, if you have to cook for your family, most likely-
Russ Perry: Or Russ Perry.
Mika Perry: Or Russ Perry, they’re not gonna be eating that way. Your kids should not be following your macro plan, they have different nutritional needs. Your husband may not want to, or when I actually was doing the macro meal prepping, our fridge was filled with these black-bottomed, clear-top, plastic meal prep containers, but for you, you needed more than me, because we had the same trainer. You didn’t have a competing goal, but she said you guys can eat the same stuff, but just double his.
So it was like creating mine, and then doubling, and then making yours, and then labeling each one so we knew which one was the double portion versus a single portion for mine. Then I had to figure out what the kids were gonna eat, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so it was a lot of time doing that. Did I do it? Yes. Was it sustainable? Not really. If I was actively competing, I would have to make it sustainable because that is my priority.
But after I decided I wasn’t going to compete because it coincided with a lot of life events that were happening, we were moving, I just said this is not the right time for me or my family, and so I dropped the macro counting part. After that, I was used to creating lunches and breakfast, not just dinners, but prepping those meals as well. I know that you really liked having your lunches made, especially going to the office, because what you do Russ is that, you have done, is that you will just skip meals, and then you’d be-
Russ Perry: Oh yeah, I won’t eat, and then I’ll come back, have three protein bar as dinner, and a bowl of cereal, and I’ll eat three to four times more in that go because I’m just ravenously hungry.
Mika Perry: Yeah, so you said, “Mika, I love having lunches”, so I started prepping lunches for you. Then for a while there it kinda got into a, what is our goal? I don’t know, but I still just prepared things to just make life easier, whether that be chopped up ingredients in big Ziplocs or big containers for the fridge, so I can use those throughout the week as ingredients for dinner, or breakfast or lunch. Sometimes I can make a frittata, I don’t eat eggs now, so throw in food allergies, and that makes all this challenging.
But back then I would make a frittata for breakfast and chop it up into pie slices and put those into containers, and then we all had breakfast ready to go. Shakes are a really easy breakfast, so there’s a lot of components that I just kinda kept going without any sort of paleo, Whole 30, keto, fitness, it was pretty healthy, let’s eat as clean as we can.
Now, I think we can throw in some of the things that you have tried, you can share a little bit about the food meal prep services that we decided you would just use for lunch.
Russ Perry: Right.
Mika Perry: I would continue dinner prep, breakfast as well, but then lunch, I was kind of hitting my limit at times of I didn’t have time to do it, I already prepped dinner, but man, lunch on top of that? A smart idea, you said, “You know what Mika? For lunches, I really enjoy having those prepped meals, so I’ll just use a food service.”
Russ Perry: Right, so cut to now my side of all of this. I always enjoyed having food in the meal, in preps and all that. I do remember in your macro phase, I would get in trouble because I’d eat the wrong things, or too much, so that was a definite stressor on me. But ultimately, I went down the service meal prep plans, because of our inconsistencies in the planning, in the prepping process over weekends we would be traveling or there would be other things going on. So we traditionally only have prepped foods for the week if we’re home on Sunday. It’s not like you’re cranking this out on a Tuesday.
Mika Perry: No, so yeah Sunday is critical for us.
Russ Perry: Yeah, on the weekend. So if we’re like this week we have nothing, now I’m not eating because I’m doing a mimicking fast, but if I was, I would be kind of in a position that led me to get prepped meals in the first place, where it’s like oh, we were supposed to have these prepped meals, now I have nothing, now I’m back to the I just eat whatever crosses my path phase. So I went, and I’ve tried a bunch, Pete’s Paleo is one I started with, it’s a great company out of Southern California.
The one I did locally here was Scratch Kitchen in Arizona, in Scottsdale, they were fantastic. I really like them, although they were not necessarily as customizable as I wanted. You just kinda picked from a few selections, same thing with Pete’s Paleo, it was just like here’s our menu, and you can kinda customize it a little bit. Obviously, Pete’s Paleo being paleo, Scratch Kitchen being kind of more just healthy, and local and organic.
Then the one that I most recently used, which I found through my coach and a fitness sponsored athlete that he coaches, is Trifecta Meals, and they’re out of California. I actually liked that one the most. The meals are fantastic, they’re flavorful, there’s a lot of variety, but I stopped because, well you said we’re gonna be now prepping meals together, that’s one of our 2019 things to do, so this is the last week that I will have those delivered.
Mika Perry: Now you forgot a vegan one, remember your vegan kick? You had that meal, it was like 23 Carrots or something?
Russ Perry: I don’t remember, yeah.
Mika Perry: What was the name of that? But yeah, for a while Russ was vegan.
Russ Perry: Yeah, I did have a vegan one, I guess it wasn’t that memorable. You know, let me talk about veganism for a second to everybody listening. I go back and forth on eating animal flesh. I think about it and I’m just, I don’t know about this, and so sometimes I really wanna go vegan, and you joke about it like, “Russ wishes he could be vegan”, because I really think about it sometimes, and I just think that there’s a lot, all of the health risks that I have as a man are all accentuated by eating meat. Like if I want to live longer, don’t eat meat, period, unequivocally amount of evidence on there.
But meat’s delicious, and there’s a lot of yummy things out there, but what really made me not so wrapped up about it was when I was learning about science in terms of energy from the sun coming down and going into plants, and really plants take that energy and then they become energy for animals, and then animals can be come energy for us. Really when you’re eating anything, it’s just energy from the sun. So it’s doesn’t actually matter if it’s a plant or an animal, you could eat a human, it doesn’t matter, it’s all energy from the sun that has just been reformed a few times.
Mika Perry: So my new meal plan then is to meal prep by putting containers out in our backyard, and just open them up and just let them-
Russ Perry: Collect the sun.
Mika Perry: Collect the sun?
Russ Perry: No, so only plants can eat sunlight.
Mika Perry: That’s true, okay.
Russ Perry: Photosynthesis, so we can’t do that, but we can then eat the plants or eat the animals that eat the plants. So that was kind of like a morality balancing act inside my mind, now there’s all sorts of, I could just go onto Netflix and watch a documentary or five that freaks me out about something, so I stay away from it. But overall, I think now I am A, really committed, to doing meal preps with you, and one of that is just to connect with you.
Mika Perry: Yeah, so this something we haven’t done, and we said for this year we wanted to try, is using the Sunday meal preps as a time for us to almost like a at-home date day, to use that time where I’m just mindlessly chopping veggies and cooking, I’m a Tasmanian devil in the kitchen while I do this, and it does take a few hours, but this is when I typically put on a podcast, the kids are watching TV or hanging out, just doing whatever, and I would do all the meal prepping.
We identified that as really prime opportunity for us to spend some time together, and then maybe use Sunday as kind of a quote-unquote cheat day where we try a new recipe together that may not fit into the rest of the week’s meal plan. Then we have a great Sunday dinner, we’ve spent time together, we have the rest of the week prepped and ready to go, it’s like win-win-win on so many levels.
Russ Perry: Right. You’re gonna have to talk to me while we’re doing this, you’re not gonna have to put on headphones and [crosstalk]
Mika Perry: Oh, well then I don’t know, no I’m just kidding.
Russ Perry: You realize-
Mika Perry: We have to interact?
Russ Perry: Yes.
Mika Perry: Okay, well we haven’t done this yet because we were traveling, so we’ll report back on how it goes.
Russ Perry: This Sunday.
Mika Perry: This Sunday, yeah this Sunday we’re in town, and we’re gonna definitely spend time doing it, but I’m looking forward to that. As I’m listening here between us talking about kind of our history with meal planning and meal prep, we have had lots of different goals, and that’s why it’s changed. So I think it’s important to decide what is your goal in food? I think that’ll help you direct where to go, and with your vegan, not-vegan, you’ve gone through different goals like-
Russ Perry: Targets, I prefer targets.
Mika Perry: Targets, okay you’ve had different targets for your health, you’ve had different targets for your fitness, and so have I, so that has informed what we decide to do. The cool thing is that now I feel like you and I have, in a way, tried so many things, almost like we’ve tried everything, now we can pick and choose from what we have done to create a customized lifestyle of eating that fits our goals.
Russ Perry: What’s your target this year?
Mika Perry: My target this year is eliminating, or at least reducing, gluten and dairy.
Russ Perry: Okay, my target is to get stronger and ski down a black diamond and have a good time.
Mika Perry: So yours are very action-oriented. Mine, it’s because of food allergies. I know that they’re not good for me, from blood tests that I’ve done. I’ve already eliminated eggs last year, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be, and so now I think I’m ready to do gluten and dairy. I think maybe Paige may have a dairy allergy as well, and so also I want to reduce the kids’ gluten and dairy consumption as well. Also by doing that, that’s gonna force me to eat more vegetables and proteins, and that, in turn, will align with my fitness goal of leaning out. In the past when I’ve cut out carbs, and dairy usually is never associated with anything very healthy, really there’s no nutritional benefit for dairy, then I think it’ll just align really well then give me some results, fitness-wise.
Russ Perry: Okay, so we have a large contingency of listeners who want you to walk them through-
Mika Perry: A day in meal prep?
Russ Perry: A meal prep framework, current, 2019 model, Mika Perry, three, two, one, go.
Mika Perry: All right, so it’s Sunday, we’ve gone to church. Conveniently, our church is located in front of Costco.
Russ Perry: May or may not have influenced our decision.
Mika Perry: No we love, our church is Impact Church here in Scottsdale, Arizona. But all right, so once church is done, it’s time for me to hit the grocery stores. Some people are like I will never go to a grocery store on a Sunday, specifically Costco is insane, but we go to the early service so we arrive at Costco right around the time that it opens up, which is nice. I don’t mind shopping in a hectic environment, I find it motivating in a way, and I know Costco like the back of my hand. So I come with a plan, I know what to do. Okay, I should take a step back here though because how do I know what to get, right?
Russ Perry: Oh yeah, you jumped ahead.
Mika Perry: I did jump ahead, let me take a step back here because I have two things to share with you that are super important in our meal planning. So prior to going anywhere like Costco, I have a menu board and a grocery shopping app that I utilize to create my plan. So by now, I have most of the recipes and things I make in my head, and again, why are you laughing at me?
Russ Perry: Just like, you’re in the zone.
Mika Perry: I am.
Russ Perry: I love it, I’m really, I thought, “This episode’s gonna go viral.”
Mika Perry: Stop. Okay, so I have my grocery shop app, and I know what I generally get every week. I buy chicken breast, I buy chicken thighs, I buy salmon, I buy broccoli, I buy cauliflower, sweet potatoes, berries, apples, bananas, any pantry item that we’re low on, so those are the items I always get. Eggs, because the rest of the family eats them. Spinach, we buy a big thing of spinach. Those are just the building blocks of the meals that I create for the family.
So before we go, I kinda scan through the fridge, I do a fridge clean-out if I can beforehand, and then I scan the pantry, scan the fridge for any items that we might need, and I will go in my grocery app, it’s called ShopList Free, and it’s an app I’ve used since those paleo initial first meal prepping days. So the format of it is like iPhone 3. They haven’t updated it, but it’s so good, and I’m used to it. I input every single thing I need to buy, and then when I’m at the store, I click through it.
Reese and Maddox have both helped me click through the ingredients as we go, so that’s a little game for them, and then as far as a layout of a menu for the week, I kind of combined all the things I know how to make in my head, think about things we haven’t had in a while, and then I try to balance the week’s menu with proteins, with flavors, with ethnic foods, like Italian, Mexican, Japanese-Asian, and use that so I’m not being repetitive, we’re not having chicken every week. Ground turkey is something we use a lot, and not ground beef, because we’ve really eliminated most red meat in our house. We’ll eat it when we go out, but at the house, I stick to those kind of lean proteins and fish.
So I will just come up with days like grilled chicken thighs and veggies, or quinoa chicken chili is something that I make. Recently I’ve been making a turkey and sweet potato no-bean chili, that’s really good. Salsa chicken I’ve mentioned before is the easiest crock pot recipe you can ever make. You put chicken breast and salsa in a crock pot, done, the end, that’s it, then you shred that up and you can put that into quesadillas for the kids, with like tortilla, they have a really good uncooked flour tortilla at Costco, and some cheese and then, I don’t know how long they can eat that because we’re gonna limit gluten and dairy.
But then for me and Russ, we will put it on a bed of quinoa with some vegetables, and put some hot sauce on it. So I take a lot of the building blocks, like proteins and veggies, and then morph those into almost two different versions of the same meal. So I never created two completely unrelated meals for the kids and us, I just take the basics that I’ve made and customize it towards what they will eat, because to be honest, it is hard feeding kids because two of our kids are picky, so I always have to keep that in mind now. I think that’s been my biggest challenge in meal prepping and meal planning.
So in creating a weekly menu, I know broccoli, Reese will eat, she loves broccoli. Maddox will eat anything, thankfully. Reese doesn’t like a lot of meat. Paige loves fruit and berries. Everyone loves Japanese food. No one like anything spicy except for Russ and I, so it is a lot to mentally think about that goes on, before I even go to the grocery store.
Then we go to Costco, sometimes I’ll go by myself, like we’ll go home first or we’ll drive separately, and then I’ll go by myself. Or if everyone’s in a good mood, we’ll go together. Then I will go through Costco, starting with the meat section, then the produce section, and then the refrigerator/freezer section.
Russ Perry: It’s like a treasure map.
Mika Perry: It is like a treasure map.
Russ Perry: I’ve gotten this lists, like Meeka will give me a list and it’s literally the walkthrough of the store is how you’ll categorize everything.
Mika Perry: Yeah, so that’s another tip, is if you don’t use an app, if you or you’re sending someone else to go shop, write your grocery list in categories. So for example, meats, produce, aisles, frozen, bakery, whatever, but then put it in order of either counterclockwise or clockwise of that store. So our Costco, you enter and go around in a counterclockwise direction, so that’s kinda how we shop.
So then I would pick up just tons of veggies, tons of proteins, any other staples that we need. We use almond milk a lot for our protein smoothies in the mornings, so I would get almond milk. A lot of times, we always have frozen strawberries and fruits to put in smoothies. I get the Orgain protein powder at Costco, and so we will have those basics.
Then I bring it home, I try not to go to a second location, but sometimes I have to, so then I will drop everything off at home, then head to Whole Foods, and get those smaller items that I don’t need Costco size of. For example, baby carrots, that’s a vegetable all of our kids will eat, and Costco sells them as a bag of like 10 pounds?
Russ Perry: We don’t eat it fast enough.
Mika Perry: It’s huge, so that I will save for regular grocery store size. Same with celery, you’ll get this huge thing, but spinach? Spinach we go through like crazy. Sauteed spinach is something Maddox likes, and you and I like, and we put it in our protein smoothies. So that goes fast, so that I’ll get at Costco. Strawberries and berries, I think the best place to get organic berries is at Costco, and so I will prep those and have them ready to go for the week. So we go to Whole Foods, I get anything else I need to get, salmon I’ll mention, Costco’s a great place to get salmon. So everything’s at home now.
Russ Perry: We’re back, I help unload the car, no LaCroixs have fallen out the back.
Mika Perry: Yeah so we have, I get LaCroixs at Costco too. What would we do without Costco? Then I start laying everything out, and what’s really helpful is if you make a to-do list of what you need to do, including items like wash and chop up kale, cook quinoa, because what I do cook are grains, if I need to do any grains, I will precook those for the week, it’s super convenient for lunches and dinners, to have that ready. Even pasta, like spiral pasta or elbow macaroni, you can cook that in advance for lunches for the kids.
So then I would write down all the things I need to do. This keeps me on track and helps me kinda plan what I need to do for those couple of hours, but then also it really feels good to just cross it off. You feel really accomplished. So then I will just start prepping.
Russ Perry: Getting after it.
Mika Perry: Getting after it.
Russ Perry: How much are you making … You have the whole week planned out, you have all these meals, how much is a meal ready to go, versus components of a meal?
Mika Perry: I’d say it’s 75% components and 25%-
Russ Perry: So like that day, maybe the next day.
Mika Perry: Exactly, yeah. So I will plan it so that the things that I cook on Sunday can last through Monday-Tuesday, and then the meals that we have on Wednesday-Thursday are ones that I am going to create on the spot.
Russ Perry: Yeah, and I notice too when you’ll find something that you can do in bulk, like a big egg scramble for me for breakfast, there’ll just be four or five of those ready to go because it’ll last the whole week.
Mika Perry: For the whole week, and same with overnight oats. This past week I put them into little Mason jars and had those ready.
Russ Perry: The chia matcha pudding-
Mika Perry: That was intense, sorry I put too much matcha in it.
Russ Perry: Yeah, that was …
Mika Perry: Sorry, it’s actually really good if you balance it with some frozen mango on top, if you have a topping like that, because the sweet counterbalances the matcha, but sorry.
Russ Perry: I opened one of those, I was talking to someone at work, took my first bite it was like [inaudible]
Mika Perry: Way too much matcha, sorry. It was weird because when you make it, it doesn’t turn green, but then after everything starts to settle and kind of get absorbed, then it turns really green.
Russ Perry: Okay, so then talk about the containers you use too, because that’s important.
Mika Perry: Very important, and something I share a lot on Instagram. So if you to my blog, MikaPerry.com, there’s a post there called Amazon Favorites. By the time you listen to this, hopefully, I will have my meal prep blog post available as well, but just for the containers, I have it on that post of Amazon favorites, and they are glass containers with snapping lids. They have those at Costco, but here, why I don’t buy those, is because they’re all different colors. Like the rim, like the seal-
Russ Perry: Beware.
Mika Perry: The sealant rim, they’re all in different colors and that drives me crazy. So the ones I get from Amazon are all green, and then I also buy Pyrex, a peel lid type of situation, I have those. I like to have square shapes because they stack really well in the fridge. I have moved the shelves around in our fridge, configuring them to fit the size of those containers, into zones into the fridge, that makes sense for the week ahead.
Russ Perry: Could you take a picture of our fridge when you’re done and then do a diagram overlay for us?
Mika Perry: Yeah, I could totally do that.
Russ Perry: Okay, serious, I’m sure people would appreciate that.
Mika Perry: Yeah, it’s so worth the time to configure your fridge for the items you’re putting it in there to make sense. So I have the protein zone, I have the veggie zone, I have the prep snack zone, I have the Mason jar shelves. The other item I use for meal preps are Mason jars, just the bald glass Mason jars, and then you can buy white plastic screw-on lids, the caps for them. What I’ll put in there are chopped up celery, baby carrots, kind of snacking items, I’ll put any soups that I make, or chili. I will put fruits, so grapes, strawberries that I wash and cut the tops off and cut in half in advance and put them in the jars, which has been controversial on Instagram.
It’s one of my most engaged posts I’ve ever done was on the berry prep. So I’ll do strawberries, because people think you shouldn’t wash them and put them in jars, but let me tell you, if you prep berries or anything in advance, and put them where you can see them clearly in the fridge, in clear glass containers, whether it’s the Mason jars or the snap lids with green thing and Pyrex, whatever, it is just like a closet where if you can see it, you will eat it, you’ll know about it.
Russ Perry: What do you eat in your closet?
Mika Perry: No, like you’ll use it, is what I mean.
Russ Perry: Oh okay, I’m like why are you storing food in your closet?
Mika Perry: So like in your closet, if everything is messed up, you don’t know what you have, and you’ll just kinda grab whatever is easiest to grab. Same thing for the fridge, is that if you have a well laid-out fridge configuration, and you can see what you have, all the ingredients, make those healthy things accessible. That’s why I have the berries prepped in jars, and they don’t go bad, because they keep fresh, but also because we eat them.
Russ Perry: They’re consumed.
Mika Perry: They’re consumed, because the kids see them, they open the fridge and they’re like here it is, conveniently for you, prepped fruits and vegetables, instead of just this mish-mosh and they just grab, I don’t know, something unhealthy.
Russ Perry: It’s like in a drawer, in a big, in the bottom, not ready to go.
Mika Perry: Yes, and I also love Ziploc bags. I will use those for anything. I marinate in advance, and I also take out broccoli, bell peppers, anything that are in their own bags, salads sometimes even, salad mixes; bags of arugula, I love arugula, I will take them all out of their mismatched bags and put them all into Ziplocs and line them up file fold type, or file, I will file them in one of the crisper drawers.
Russ Perry: I love you.
Mika Perry: Honestly, like having an organized fridge is the best thing.
Russ Perry: I only reap the benefits of it.
Mika Perry: You really do.
Russ Perry: But I’m gonna try to help this Sunday, I’m gonna try to get into it. I’ve done, like I mentioned earlier, I’ve poured a big bag of almonds into the smaller almond Ziploc bags, and I’ve tried, I’ve done a little bit of this. When I travel, I’ll portion out things into snack packs and whatnot, so I’m learning.
Mika Perry: Yeah, and then I’ll also make ground turkey, I’ll brown a bunch of ground turkey, and then that way I have that for using in a bolognese sauce. One thing I love to do is ground turkey with our favorite Costco Victoria White Linen organic marinara sauce, and I would eat that over, I’ll just eat that by itself, and the kids have it with pasta.
Russ Perry: Spaghetti squash.
Mika Perry: Or spaghetti squash, I also love shaved brussel sprouts, and put that on top, it’s very substantial. I’m not a huge fan of zoodles, but you could do that as well, the spiralized zoodles.
Russ Perry: What are [crosstalk]
Mika Perry: Zoodles, they’re zucchini noodles.
Russ Perry: Okay.
Mika Perry: Yeah, so a lot of protein you can cook in advance and it keeps. I mentioned salmon, salmon keeps for a few days if you cook it. So if you make a huge, big slab of salmon at Costco, I cook that up, a lot of times we’ll have that for dinner on Sunday or Monday, and then the others I’ll cut into portions and put it with green beans, sauteed green beans or a salad, into containers for your organized lunches.
Russ Perry: Okay, so you went and prepped your lists, maybe the night before or-
Mika Perry: The morning of.
Russ Perry: Yeah, hopefully not during church, and then go to Costco, hit up the ancillary stores, then you make a plan, once you bring everything out, put everything out and make a plan, then you get busy prepping, get everything organized and stored into the fridge, then what?
Mika Perry: Then I make sure, if I haven’t yet, I will write the menu board.
Russ Perry: The menu board.
Mika Perry: The menu board, because some things will change, sometimes I’ll change my mind once I get home, but if I didn’t already make the menu board then I will write it out, and this is a framed, glass picture frame, where underneath the glass I have printed out a piece of paper that simply just says menu, and Sunday through the following Saturday. This is something I started when we started meal planning in the paleo days, we’ll just call it that. I made a big menu board and-
Russ Perry: The paleo era.
Mika Perry: Era, sure. I put that up, and since then, that has been game-changing, because it keeps me accountable for the meals, Maddie will be like, “Oh we’re having this tonight?”, and I’m like, “Yes, that is what we’re having tonight”, and it gives them a sense of comfort to know what they’re gonna have for dinner that night. It’s just a great tool, so I highly suggest if you’re going to get into any sort of meal planning or prepping, is to consider putting up a menu board, especially for your family.
Russ Perry: I love listening to this, and thank you, seriously. You put in a lot of work for this, and it matters.
Mika Perry: I do, yeah.
Russ Perry: I’m excited to work on my knife skills, get better at that. That’s my favorite part of any cooking show is when they do the mise en place competition, how fast can you break down a chicken.
Mika Perry: Yeah, a good knife is definitely essential in the kitchen. We have a huge chopping board, like a butcher board now, that’s really great. You really don’t need a lot of items to meal prep, and even your kitchen itself, I did this in a house that we rented, then we did it in our small, tiny apartment that we had, and in a way it was easy to meal prep in that small kitchen, because i could just stay pretty much in one spot, I wasn’t running around the kitchen. I would turn to the right and there’s a sink I would turn to the left, there’s an oven, so it was-
Russ Perry: Everything’s arms reach.
Mika Perry: Yeah, everything was within arms reach. Our kitchen now is much bigger, and honestly, I find going over here for the fridge, and over here for the oven, it’s on two different sides, so I definitely utilize the whole kitchen.
Russ Perry: Well maybe that’s how we can plan out our strategy, where I’ll have the north end and you’ll have the south end.
Mika Perry: Okay.
Russ Perry: And you like toss things to me and like, “Take this”, and, “Put it in the fridge”, or whatever.
Mika Perry: Perfect, okay I love it.
Russ Perry: Awesome, so I cannot wait for your blog post, you’re gonna have to do it now after all of this, and the pictures and everything that we need to get down.
Mika Perry: Absolutely, and I will definitely include some family-friendly recipes in that blog post, and if I can, I’ll try to link it to this episode. But whatever you don’t find here, head over to that blog post and I’ll have some examples. Yeah, kids can be challenging, but it’s worth it to show them how to eat healthy and model that for them. I think it’s really piqued an interest in, especially Reese, on cooking. She is very interested, and we watch Master Chef Junior together, and I think it’s only beneficial to, you don’t have to invite them to meal prep with you. I think that takes a long time to cook with the kids, but just them watching you do it is an education enough.
Russ Perry: Awesome. So that blog post, as well as other stuff that Mika has posted specifically on this topic, containers and everything, is over at MikaPerry.com, and if you wanna find out the links to everything we’ve talked about here, don’t forget go to our podcast episode over at goodtobehomepodcast.com, and Mika, final question. What’s gonna be on the meal plan next?
Mika Perry: Definitely a rerun of that turkey no-bean sweet potato chili.
Russ Perry: Delicious. All right everyone, thanks for listening so much to Good to be Home. Please leave us a rating, subscribe to us on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play, and Mika, where can people reach out if they have any ideas, questions, comments, et cetera?
Mika Perry: You can email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, we’d love to hear from you as a review on iTunes, we really appreciate those, and couldn’t say thank you enough.
Russ Perry: All right, talk to you next week.
Mika Perry: Bye.
Russ Perry: Thanks for listening to this episode of Good to be Home.
Mika Perry: And don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes and give us a rating.
Russ Perry: See you next time.