Meal Prep Saves Lives.
Well, it saves forests. And saving forests saves lives- animals who live and depend on forests, and even us mighty humans. Without trees, we would literally not be able to breathe, so trees and the forests are kind of a big deal.Sustainable practices with paper and wood products is the best way to fight deforestation. And it’s the little things that add up. Recycling is important. But there is a reason the motto is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. Recycling helps, but it is the least effective of the three. The best way to protect and save forests is to reduce the amount of waste we consume.
Every time we eat out, we consume what seems to be an insignificant amount of trash. But it certainly adds up. According to the Foundation for the Conservation of Salamanders, more than 3.5 million trees are harvested for disposable chopsticks alone. Think of how many trees are felled for napkins, cups, coffee stirrers, bags, take-out containers, place mats, and everything else. While fast food restaurants are certainly the easy scapegoat for the majority of paper waste, they are far from the only culprit. Many eat-in establishments use paper napkins, paper table cloths, and plenty of paper for their take-out containers.
Eating out is also one of the main reasons it is so difficult for people to meet their fitness goals. In a busy society, where everything is instant, we don’t stop to think how our habits of grabbing fast food is affecting our waistline, our health, and our planet.
I hate guilting people into conservation action. I would rather empower my friends to make healthy decisions they can feel good about. Decisions which promote a positive impact on the environment as well.
Most of us have a favorite animal who depends on forests for its livelihood. When we say no to fast food, or eating out unnecessarily, we are saying yes to our the animals we love. We can make a difference in the lives of sloths, tigers, elephants, birds, and insects when we take care of ourselves.
To combat our busy lifestyles and still avoid eating out every day, I advocate meal prepping. Meal prep saves time. It saves money. It makes our willpower stronger when we know we already have our meal planned for us. And it reduces waste which is destroying forests.
Meal prep has two connotations. There is making large batches of food to then divvy up in smaller portions meal prepping, and there is meal prepping where you prepare your ingredients ahead of time so it is easy to fix your meal when you are hungry.
I have tons of recipes I like to use for getting ready for the week ahead. I created ZooFit when I was a very busy zookeeper. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have shortened breaks because something was going on with the animals. Meal prep was my BFF in combatting temptations to eat out nearly every day.
One of my favorite recipes is the Quinoa Salad. I have made it so many times, and found it is modifiable, for whatever your tastes may be. If you like chicken, tofu, chickpeas, whatever protein you desire, this Quinoa Salad is a great go-to. Make the salad on your Sunday, divide the whole batch into five containers, and then just grab and go on your way out the door. Lunch is ready when you are.
5 servings- nutritional facts are approximate, depending on which type of protein you are using- 320 calories, Carbs: 39 g, Fat: 6 g, Protein: 17 g
- 3 cups quinoa
- Choice of protein- 1 can 16oz chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 1 container tofu (pressed and sliced), or 8oz chicken
- 2 cups fresh kale, chopped
- 1 cup grapes, halved
- 1 cup almonds
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Prepare quinoa according to directions. Fluff with a fork
- Cook protein in a pan. Fry tofu or chicken in a tablespoon of olive oil until browned.
- In a large bowl, mix protein, quinoa, kale, grapes, and almonds
- Add oil, salt & pepper, and vinegar and thoroughly mix to blend.
- Divide into 5 containers. Store in a refrigerator, stays good for 7 days.