Imagine this can of tuna you would find in the store. It’s approximately five ounces in weight.
Now picture a typical dinner meal: About 3-4 ounces of protein, maybe more; about a half cup of some sort of starch like potatoes, rice, or pasta; About the same amount of green vegetable; Perhaps a salad in addition, perhaps some bread. That can add up to at least 12 ounces of food. This doesn’t count things like a steak dinner, or a Holiday Feast, where a meal can be up to two whole pounds.
Bariatric patients can no longer indulge in large meals. Everything on a normal plate needs to fit into the weight of that can of tuna.
This means that I have to sometimes have four to five meals per day to make my nutrition requirements. Which means that instead of having to cook a couple times a day, I cook about once a week, and that takes care of everything for the following week.
Meal prep is nothing new. Meal prep for bariatric patients has to take macro nutrients into account. While I’m not on a keto diet, I must keep my protein levels high. We’re talking at least 90g of protein per day. One ounce of meat or other protein contains approximately 7g of protein. Multiplying it out, that means between 12 and 15 oz of protein a day.
For some, learning to properly prep is something new. Me, I have a slight advantage. I am one of five siblings, and when we would cook for the family, we had to make sure it fed seven people. Even when most of my siblings moved away and I stayed with mom and dad because reasons, I still cooked for seven. And so did my mom, for the most part. So I had a head start in the prep department, especially because that one big meal for seven can routinely now feed me for close to a full week.
For me, the easiest meal prep is simple baked meat. For example, One chicken thigh is one meal. I simply season them, place them on a sheet pan with a rack, and bake them off until cooked and the skin is nice and crispy. One thigh, nothing else. I do the same thing with boneless skinless chicken breast. I empty a can of cream of celery, a can of mushrooms, and some seasoning, put the breasts in, and then bake them until perfectly done. I only serve it with the juice from the soup and what not. These give me meals with over 25g of protein. Enough so I can easily reach the protein goal without having to eat more calories than I should.
But sometimes I want stuff to go with it. Although I SHOULD be paring my protein with nice healthy veggies, I usually do it with some sort of starch. One example is my pork tenderloin 40 cloves. Using 3oz of pork and 2oz of the couscous, gives me everything I need. However, that only made meals for like 4 days at the most. I would have to cook again during the week. One preparation that DOES use lots of veggies is my bigos recipe, but it’s all cabbage, which is good for you. Something like that WILL make meals for the whole week. When I do meals that have protein and other stuff, as opposed to just eating some meat, I always, before cooking, enter the recipe in MyFitnessPal. This will break down the macros of each ingredient so I know how many calories per meal, and importantly, how much protein per meal. My recipe book has recipes ranging from 150 calories to 350 calories. If I have 3-4 of them per day, I’m usually good to go on my macros.
So now I have enough food for the week. How do I store it? I use 6oz baby food storage containers. They have that snap lock lid, and there’s an O-ring in the lid that seals the container well. I weigh out EVERY part of the meal—protein, sides, etc. if it’s not a “one pot”. Then I parcel it out. There are other ways to store, also. Here’s a meal prep video where the cook preps breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a week. The fried rice and the curry are the types of recipe I do the most. For me, the amounts of food he makes for a week would last me well over two weeks. This is how I cook every week. Take for example last week. If you recall, I made both my ravioli in gravy, and tuna casserole. I sometimes do this for variation, as nothing but chicken soup for a whole week, for example, can get a little boring. One does want variety.
So, as a bariatric patient, I’m doing good things in weighing out, recording recipes, and what not, but, as you can see from some of the stuff I’ve posted in the last couple of years, I do enjoy richer, higher calorie foods. But I always manage to get my protein in. This helps me keep on track with my weight loss as I only shop once a week, and there is no unnecessary stuff in my fridge I can cheat with. What’s this week’s cooking? Welp, it’s spring break so I’m finishing up my stuff from last week, and on Tuesday, I’ll be making my mom’s “fish soup”, which is basically a chowder. I’ll have TONS of meals with that, because I use my mom’s recipe, which, as I’ve mentioned, I learned while cooking for a family of seven. And there were ALWAYS tons of leftovers. Look for that in the next available diary, probably somewhere in April. Hint, hint, ninkasi23