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Eating three healthy meals a day–five if you count snacks–when you live alone is a challenge. It requires time for planning, shopping, prep, cooking and cleanup. And fresh vegetables cost money. I can’t buy small enough quantities for one person for one meal, so I am stuck with either eating leftovers or throwing food away. So much easier to eat peanut butter and crackers when I don’t go out to eat. It hasn’t taken me long to figure out that I can take a few elementary steps to speed up the process, but I had no idea that meal prep is now a science.

Go to Pinterest and search for healthy meal prep. See how many pins you get. Most are far too complicated for me, and I don’t want a refrigerator full of a week’s meals. I don’t want to cook a week’s meals on Sunday afternoon. I don’t want to buy, wash and store a case of Ball’s jars. However, I spotted one that actually has some practical suggestions that I can tweak to work for me: Meal Prep Tips, Tricks, & Inspiration, pinned by the Natural Nurturer.

My Food Prep Shortcuts
  • Wash fresh fruit and vegetables as soon as I get home from the grocery store.
  • Scrape and slice a few carrots and celery for quick snacks. (Pre-cleaned and cut vegetables in vacuum-sealed bags do not taste the same. I think they have been treated with preservatives and stored too long.)
  • Hard-boil and peel several eggs.
  • Brown a pound of lean beef or sausage for meat crumbles.
  • Mix a carton of fat-free yoghurt and an equal amount of salsa for a dip and salad dressing.
  • Mix cartons of plain and vanilla-flavored fat-free yoghurt to eat with fresh fruit.
Tasty, quick, healthy breakfast
Savory Breakfast Custard

As a lifelong cereal eater, I find that cooking and eating a big breakfast with lots of protein and vegetables are a special challenge.  So Friday I tried something new: I made a savory custard with sausage, mushrooms and spinach.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together:
6 eggs
2 cups skim milk
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper

dash Tabasco sauce (optional)

Layer in a greased 2-quart casserole dish:
1 cup cooked lean sausage crumbles

1 cup wilted spinach*
1 cup sliced mushrooms

Add egg mixture to the casserole. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Bake for 45 minutes or until inserted knife blade comes out clean. Serve warm with fresh fruit or a grilled tomato. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave. 4 servings.

*To Wilt Spinach:

Wrap about 2 cups fresh spinach in a paper towel. Microwave for 15 seconds.

Is all this worth the trouble? I have lost more pounds in one month than my goal for three months, and my diet calls for more meat and vegetables than I can consume. I have almost completely given up carbs, and I have drastically reduced my intake of dairy products. It’s obvious that my problem is what I eat, not how much. I have good incentives: To fit in a very special dress by Christmas, to avoid knee surgery and to win a bet with a friend.

Photos: Savory Breakfast Custard with sausage, spinach, mushrooms and cheese; tasty, quick, healthy breakfast of savory custard with blueberries, yoghurt and Fiber One crumbles.

Revised recipe. Originally posted July 11, 2015.