My Secret to Painless Meal Prep

Meal planning was not something that came naturally to me. I mean let’s be honest what in heaven’s name is natural about cooking in the kitchen for hours on end, not to mention the amount of dishes you are left with afterwards?! I was a hater for sometime, not even going to lie.  I did not like the idea of meal planning, UNTIL….wait for it…

I found a way to make it work! I cooked a week’s worth of meals in 2 hours and now I want to share my method with you!

Whether you are a hater or have been converted into a meal plan lover, this article is meant for anyone and everyone who meal preps or wants to give it a try!

It seems the easiest way to explain how I did this would be to go in chronological order, so first step is the planning portion. What meals are you going to eat? This is obviously the most important step in the meal planning process.  My issue that I had with planning is I would get bored with the same food.  I have a taste for variety and eating the same meal 5 nights in a row would not fly with me.  Then I realized I could plan what I ate and that meal planning doesn’t necessarily mean the same meal every night.

journal plan.jpeg

Tip 1: Plan for meals that can be interchangeable. Plan meals that use similar ingredients, but have different flavors.  For example, I used ground turkey, black beans, sweet potato and onions and made stuffed peppers for one dinner and took the same concoction added a little organic BBQ sauce and BAM! I had a BBQ lettuce wrap. Two totally different meals, but easy to make since I used similar ingredients. I also made a couple sides to pull for meals if I was looking for something different. I had broccoli and then a salad kit from Dole that was easily split into at least 3 servings. Similar ingredients and easy side dishes helped keep cooking time down to a minimum.


Tip 2: Cut it all up! If you are using any sort of veggie or fruit that needs to be cut.  Do that first.  I found that it was much easier to start cooking with having all my ingredients ready to go.

chopped veggies.jpg

Tip 3: Be smart about your kitchen appliances.  What are you making that needs to go in the stove? What can you make without using the oven? What will go in the fridge and what will go in the freezer? Where will I find the space to fit all these plastic containers? That last one was a serious struggle, LOL.  I went in order and started with breakfast items.  One dish was a yogurt parfait in a mason jar  ( which took 5 minutes) Second was an egg, black bean and cheese breakfast burritos that I was able to freeze and pull throughout the week.  Used stove top and counter space, total time: 20 minutes.

On to lunch and dinner. I made 4 servings of salmon and asparagus in the oven, made cauliflower chicken fried rice on the stove top, put the stove top on low so I could make a turkey wrap for lunch.  The way that I used my appliances helped cut down on time.  Even though this portion of the process took longer, I ended up with most of the cooking being done for the week.

Tip 4: Get healthy pre-packaged snacks.  This one helps cut down time tremendously! Some of my favorite healthy snacks are the individual size bags of skinny pop white cheddar popcorn, unsweetened applesauce, rice cake with Peanut Butter and snap pea crisps (wasabi ranch flavored to be specific). I also have halo top, which is my go to for desserts! It’s a protein based ice cream and the chocolate almond crunch flavor I bought was only 280 calories for the whole pint!  Not to mention, it does not have a watery taste, it has the consistency of creamy ice cream! In case you were not already aware, my excessive use of exclamation points translates to me highly recommending this product!!! <– There.. three more for the road…okay I’m done, I promise.



These key points are what made it possible to make a whole week’s worth of meals in 2 hours and if I can do it, ANYONE can do it. Trust me. My last tip would be to stay patient, sometimes things don’t go the way you planned, but the work definitely pays off!  Coming home after work and NOT having to think about what I am going to eat or cook is priceless.  The extra time allows me to focus on other things like working out, walking my dog and writing blog posts of course! Meal planning has definitely given me a balance that I have been missing out on. I am thrilled to say that I am no longer drinking the hater-ade and have officially been converted into a meal plan lover.

Thank you for reading!  In case you wanted to see what meals I had and what each day looked like, I listed them all below!

Day 1 & 3:

Breakfast- yogurt parfait

Lunch-Turkey, spinach and cranberry pinwheels with a side of celery, apples and PB

Dinner-Salmon with orange fig glaze and garlic parmesan asparagus

Day 2 & 4:

Breakfast-Breakfast Burrito

Lunch- chicken cauliflower fried rice

Dinner-(day 2)BBQ lettuce wrap (day 4) stuffed peppers

Day 5:

Breakfast-scrambled eggs & turkey bacon

Lunch-left over salad (Dole Kale Lemon Vinagrette)

Dinner-Turkey Polish sausage and vegetable skillet

Sides/snacks: cooked broccoli, Dole Kale Lemon vinagrette salad kit, apple & PB, rice cake & PB, unsweetened apple sauce, skinny pop white cheddar popcorn, natural cheese and beef stick, celery, nuts and wasabi snap pea crisps.

Dessert: Chocolate Almond Crunch Halo Top!

Everything made was doubled for 2 people.

Stay tuned for my next post where I will be sharing some of the recipes I used for this meal prep!



-The Mod Maven

2017, the year of…

A new year means something different for everyone. We are now 8 days in to 2017 and there are a few observations I have made that have inspired what you are about to read.

First off, I love that people use this time of year to reflect on the past and also plan for the future.  I love that a new year initiates motivation and creates promise for individuals. Each new year has ups & downs,  but there is always something I can take away from each year.  I have learned that,

Time does not define your success, your actions do.

There is nothing wrong with setting a goal for yourself to be completed in a year, but anything can happen in a day, let alone 12 months.  Don’t get caught up in time.  Time can be quick, slow, fleeting or all of the above.  Focus on the actions needed to complete the goal and the rest will follow.

Eliminate comparison.

Comparison can rob you of joy and contentment.  It can obstruct your vision and mask the true uniqueness of you.  Quit looking at other people’s achievements and comparing them to yours.  We must realize that everyone’s story is special and we all accomplish our goals differently.  Eliminate comparison from your mindset and relish in the fact that you are doing what works for you and only you.

Celebrate the small stuff.

Often times a new year consists of rather stupendous goals that can be overwhelming at times.  Don’t forget to celebrate the small wins!  It is still a win in the end.

Never give up.

You are your best fan.  You know yourself better than anyone else and that is why it is so important to never give up on yourself.  Even when times seem dark and you feel far off track, remember why you started in the first place and keep moving forward.

These reminders have truly helped me get over some speed bumps and I hope they have brought some encouragement into your new year.  I’d love to hear what some of your new year goals/resolutions are! Feel free to comment below and stay tuned for more fun filled posts in 2017.

Much love,

The Mod Maven

Morning Mindfulness

Hello loves! Todays post is highlighting the importance of a self-care routine at the start of your day.  I am not writing this because I am an expert.  In fact, I am not what I would call a “morning person” to say the least.  I am writing this because I am learning what self-care means for me and through that discovery I now understand the importance of taking time for yourself in the morning.




There are days I literally crawl out of the covers and my mornings seem very rushed.  The next thing you know I am throwing on my shoes and out the door without ever eating breakfast.  I recently was given a promotion and my schedule changed to mornings.  So… to be perfectly honest I was not a morning person, but was somewhat forced to become one (which is perfectly okay with me since I love my new job!!!).  There was an adjustment period, but as I started to incorporate self-practice this is what I found:

1. I feel more prepared to take on my day

2. I am more productive

3. I feel more energized

4. I now look forward to mornings!




Now that I have found something that works, I’d like to share it with all you lovely people!  My routine can be broken down into three categories:


First category is MIND!  There are so many decisions you have to make throughout the day.  Start your day out right by preparing your mind for the interactions and decisions you have to make that day.  Some ideas I came up with that fall under the mind category include:

-Read a self improvement novel

-Meditate for 10 minutes

-Work on a crossword puzzle or sudoku

-Words with friends ( or a trivia app, lumosity, etc.)

-Watch part of a Ted talk discussion on youtube

I usually incorporate this specific step of self-care while I eat breakfast, or if I meditate I do it first thing in the morning.




Second category is BODY! This portion can give you the energy you need to make it to the end of the day.  Here is what I came up with for Body:

-Stretch for 10 minutes

-Go on a brisk walk around the block (and if you have furry friends that love to walk, take them with you!)

-Try out different yoga poses for 20 minutes

-Fuel your body with a smoothie full of veggies & fruits

-Turn hot water on in the shower and let the room become steamy..Stand outside the shower and deeply inhale/exhale (the steam also has great benefits for your skin and lungs)




Last category is SOUL! I look at this as a time of reflection and a way to connect to your higher power, whatever that may be.  It can also be used as a time to connect with yourself and give thanks.  Here are some ideas for soul:

-Keeping a Gratitude journal


-Scripture reading

-Soul writing/ reflection journal

-Look in the mirror and compliment yourself




These can be done in any order! By focusing on mind, body and soul, I have felt more balance during the early morning and on throughout the day!  I would love to hear what y’all are doing for self-care morning routines! Let me know in the comments or find me on Instagram: @the_modmaven or Facebook!


Peace & love,


-The Mod Maven


(This is not a sponsored post)




Just Start.


I’m sure by now that you are all aware that this is a health/wellness blog.  In case this is your first time visiting I want to point out that I too am on my own health journey.

Some questions that have come from starting this blog include, “What did you do to start getting healthy?”  “How did you manage to get started?”

That is the one question that I can answer in three words.


I simply began.  I literally grabbed my sneakers and went on a run.  It hurt like hell and I thought my knees were going to give out the whole time, but I still did it.  I am not a fitness guru,  I have failed and that makes me human.  I understand how hard it can be to get started or to have failed and have to start again. In this post I am mostly referring to health and fitness, however, it can be carried over to a number of things.

 It could be conquering a new skill, like playing the guitar.


Or creating something new that you can share with others.


No matter what it is, you have to take that step to START.

After you achieve certain goals, you realize that choosing to start becomes a daily choice.  After the initiative is there,  you have to decide what is the purpose of starting?

For me in terms of health,  it is not a diet, but a lifestyle.  Not for him or for her, but for me.  Not for a day, but every single day.  Not to feel good in skinny jeans, but to feel good in my skin.  Not for the beach, but for my mind.  Not to compete with anyone, but to compete with myself to become the best version of myself.  Every single day.


That is why I choose to start.  The beauty is that it is never too late to get going and if you fail, you can start again.  Have faith and believe in the power of beginnings.


-The Mod Maven




MIA Tour-A road trip unlike any other.


I know what you’re thinking…what does a chicken car in New York City have anything to do with what I’m writing about?

Well, if you have not heard already this unique set of wheels was driven around the country by three guys with the ambition to travel through 48 states in two months with the purpose of promoting mental health awareness.

Patrick Taylor, Alex Vassiliadis and Nate Perez met during college at the University of Illinois in Champaign, IL. It was through many conversations that this idea unfolded into a full fledged tour known as the Mental Illness Awareness Tour or MIA tour.  With each members personal connection to mental health they let two worlds collide and combined their dream of traveling the country with helping people along the way.  This road trip was a public forum for people to share their stories, connect those in need to accessible resources and discuss mental illness in a positive, yet transparent environment.


Pictured: Alex (left) Patrick  (middle) and Nate (right), Founders of the Mental Illness Awareness Tour

The following dialogue was from a Q & A session that I was fortunate enough to have with Patrick.  He discusses his own personal opinion on mental health and the   experiences he had during the tour.

Q: What does mental health look like to you?

A: “To me, mental wellness is like maintenance on a car. You use your mind every day all day, and need to remember to take time to maintain it. Or in terms of the car, getting an oil change. I think many people get caught up in their day to day activities and forget to reflect on themselves and ensuring that they are Operating at 100%. Taking only a few short minutes every day or two to reflect on your mental health is mental wellness. How you spend those couple of minutes is different for everyone, but it is worth exploring what helps you unwind to stay mentally well.”

Q: Why do you think it is important that we spread mental illness awareness?

A:  “I think it’s important to talk about mental illness to educate people. The average person does not know what resources are available to them, or how to react to a person having a mental breakdown, or how controlling mental illness is to the person suffering. Through education, we can make our communities more inclusive and understanding of the situation others endure with mental illness.”

Q: Top 3 cities you visited and why?

A: “1. Sandpoint, Idaho for glacier lake, mountains, and friendly welcoming people. 2. Philadelphia, PA for Pat’s cheesesteaks and the rocky impersonator. 3. New Orleans for the Cajun food!”



I think it is safe to say that these three guys (plus a chicken) are making a positive impact.  To date, they have raised over $21,000 and are happy to be donating whatever isn’t used to cover their costs back to mental health organizations that have helped them along the way.  The chicken car is currently traveling around Illinois and speaking at Mental Health events.

A little birdy told me to be ready for  Mental Illness Awareness tour 2017!  For more information or to help fund their cause, check out the MIA tour website: MIA Tour Like them on Facebook and continue to see their efforts as they prepare for their next tour.


Their story is a reminder that we are the ones that can help change the attitude surrounding mental illness. If you know someone who is struggling or have been struggling yourself, remember that it is okay to ask for the help that you not only may need, but deserve. Sending love to you all!

(Photo credit: Mental Illness Awareness 2016)


-The Mod Maven



Less negative. More positive.

In a world that is constantly pulling us different ways, self-care has never been more important.  I find the action of taking care of one self can be mistaken for selfishness, and that my friends is just not the case.  Before we delve into the conversation of what self-care looks like, I find it best to define the word.  Self-care has been defined differently throughout the interwebs, but overall describes the same concept.  In my own words, self-care includes any intentional thought or action you take to care for your mental, physical and spiritual health.  When it comes to incorporating these thoughts or actions, it is easy to take other people out of the picture.  Self-care means taking time for you, right?! Well, what about the people you surround yourself with?




If you spend time with one person or a group of people whether that be a significant other, friends, family or co-workers, it is usually because you spend this time with them intentionally.  Now that brings us to the question, what effect do they have on your life?  Is it positive?




During the past few years I have learned to be true to myself and continue relationships or put them to an end depending on the effect they had on my life.  I’ve been in toxic relationships before and I quickly saw the effects they had (not only to my mental health, but to my physical and spiritual health).  Eventually the “self” I embodied, the very  existence I had once was gone.  I am lucky to have realized these feelings and emotions were not healthy for me.  However, sometimes it is easier said than done.  After many periods of trial and tribulations, I can say I feel comfortable with where I am and who I spend my time with.  Sometimes it is hard to let people go, but if it is the right thing to do for you and your personal well-being, you will thank yourself down the road.  I have been blessed with a partner in life that is GOOD for me.  He loves every weird quirk, including my insane obsession for ranch and I love him more then I thought I could ever love someone.  I have a family that is supportive and caring and have had friends who stuck by my side through it all.  This place where I am took a long time to get to, but I am thankful for this season of life.

I now write directly to you.  You are important.  Your time is valuable and you have the ability to choose who you spend it with.  If you feel that someone does not value your worth, then move along.  Be weary of the people who come around for conveniences and who do not put forth the same effort into your relationships.  By removing the toxicity and negativity you are taking the initiative to better yourself.  You are deserving.


Sending love to you all,



-The Mod Maven

Beyond the Mirror.


Something that’s been on my mind a lot lately is the process of getting healthy and the end result that drives us to the finish line.




For a long period in my life, I would consider the final product of a health journey as achieving a certain look.  Most of the time I had a celebrity or role model that I would compare myself to and the ability to have a body like them was synonymous to what I deemed as a successful result. Mind you, this was when I was younger probably around high school.  I soon realized that no matter how many planks I held I would not have the Beyonce behind or the washboard abs of Blake Lively.  Each one of us is effected differently in the way we exercise and eat making every individual body unique.  Although, I came to terms with this concept I still associated success with looks rather than how I felt.

I look back at my old self and say “Wow, I don’t blame you, I see why you had that thought process.”  It was everywhere: the magazines, TV commercials, clothing ads, I was taught at a young age that looks were of the utmost importance.  As a society, we are getting better at showing different body types on media platforms, but we still have a long way to go.

When I decided to take my health into my own hands most recently, I decided to call it my health journey rather than a weight loss journey.  Weight loss made me feel like I had to reach a certain number and that I would look a certain way once I got there.  A health journey is constant and that is what your health should be, a long term commitment!  Instead of looks, I now focus on how I feel!


After incorporating daily exercise and eating healthier foods I FEEL great.I have found success in the amount of weight I can lift, the energy I maintain throughout the day and the endorphins that come from finishing a hard workout.  I found that once you start to embrace how you feel, those feelings will manifest into a positive body image.  I still struggle and there are days where I find it hard to focus on how I feel vs. how I look, but I know at the end of the day the physiological emotion of feeling good is much more satisfying and promotes positive self-care and self-esteem.  I challenge to those reading to focus on how you feel for success rather than how you look.  After all… that’s what is left after you take away the mirror.



-The Mod Maven.

Small Town…Big Beach.

So here’s the deal. My fun-loving kooky clan decided to take a family road trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama for a six day vaca. We thought it would be fun to try someplace new since Florida is usually our go to vacation spot. Why Gulf Shores you ask? It seemed like a place where we could enjoy the beach, but without the hustle and bustle of a big city.


It ended up being six days of pure relaxation and after coming back I feel completely rejuvenated from our little adventure! So let’s recap shall we?!


My sister, my boyfriend and myself endured the 12 hour drive down to Gulf Shores with a pit stop in Kentucky at one of our favorite restaurants. When I was younger my family traveled quite often, and one of the places we loved to visit was Kentucky Lake. Right off the interstate there is this amazing restaurant called Patti’s Settlement with THE BEST southern comfort foods. I am pretty sure they invented the fried pickle because I have yet to find a place that does it better. Another staple item is their flowerpot bread with homemade strawberry butter. YUM!  If you’re passing through the area I highly recommend stopping by, you do not know what you’re missing!

patti's 2


After a long day in my car we made it to Alabama where we met up with my mom, dad, brother, sister in-law and my niece. Most of the houses were built on stilts to avoid any water or storm damage.  Our condo followed this common beach house design. It was interesting to have the ability to park your car under the house.  The best part?  It was only a five minute walk to the beach!


houses GS

Our days were spent lounging on the beach, playing board games, visiting the zoo and enjoying the local shops and community. While at the zoo, I found that the goats in particular were very photogenic.  See featured selfie below.


goat selfie GS


All silliness put aside, we really enjoyed this magical small town where the beaches stretched for miles.  My boyfriend and I enjoyed a little parasailing excursion on our last full day.


air shot 1coca cola shot 1water shot 5


When you are on the boat it is loud and you feel the movement of the waves, but once you are up in the air it gets so quiet.  Both of us had a profound moment where you realize just how small you are and how beautiful the world is from a different point of view.

shrimp GS

This was the delicious meal I had on our last night.  The shrimp tasted like it was caught the same day.  So good!  My family went out for dinner to celebrate my parents being married for 31 years.  Way to go parental units!

On the way home my boyfriend and I stopped in Mattoon, IL for his stepbrothers wedding, and what a beautiful wedding it was!  As cheesy as it sounds, we love celebrating love.  Congrats again Katlin and Quinton!  We had a great time.

wedding GS

Overall, it was a wonderful week and a half spending time with loved ones.  Thanks Gulf Shores for making it so hard to leave and thanks to our families who made it a memorable trip!

“TRAVELING.  It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”


-The Mod Maven



First off, I’d like to say congratulations.  We made it to Friday! Welcome to the weekend everyone.  I have something delicious up my sleeve with this post, and you will not believe how healthy and yummy this substitute recipe is.

My boyfriend and I love to cook together.  In honor of Friday we decided to try a steak and veggie stir fry.  Me being the carb lover that I am decided to swap out the rice and use cauliflower as an alternative.  I have finally perfected the cauliflower rice to the point where I cannot tell the difference.  I will explain in detail on the steps to achieve this below.

Here is our grocery list for the stir fry:

-Flat Iron Steak

-Veggies: zucchini (1), Squash (1), onion (1), mushrooms (1 pckg), and cauliflower (1 head)

-2 eggs

-Garlic powder, Himalayan salt, and pepper to taste

-Allegro marinade (for steak)

-Makato teriyaki sauce (for veggies)

raw veggies-stir fry


Marinate steaks overnight to get full flavor.  Cut into strips and cook in a skillet until medium well (or whatever you prefer, I like a little bit of pink).


hand pic.jpg


Cut up the cauliflower and broil it in a pot with hot water for about 10 minutes until it is partially soft. (We don’t want it to be too soft because then you’ll end up with mashed potatoes instead of rice.)  Once it is ready, strain the water out.  Now this is the key to making successful rice!  My little secret..

Place the cauliflower back into the pot after water has been drained.  Mash cauliflower with a potato masher (works best) or a fork, until it has reached a rice like consistency.  Then place cauliflower rice in the middle of a clean kitchen towel.


towel cauliflower-stir fry.jpg


Wrap up the cauliflower and squeeze the excess water out over the sink.  Once there is hardly any water dropping this is when you are ready to cook the rice in a skillet.


water towel-stir fry


At this point, cut the remaining vegetables and cook in skillet on medium to high heat.  I use a little bit of coconut oil before putting veggies in the skillet.  Drizzle the teriyaki sauce over the vegetables, I use about 4-6 tablespoons.  After about 5 minutes add your cauliflower rice to the skillet and cook for another 5 minutes.


stir fry skillet .jpg


Add the two eggs and scramble them into the mix and add steak.  There you have it!  An amazing healthy alternative to stir fry!


finished product-stir fry


Hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

What substitute recipes work for you?! Let me know in the comment section!


-The Mod Maven








Victorious Vaca

pool raft

Vacation (noun): an extended period of consuming copious amounts of food……oh and a (insert amazing landmark).  


That description was my own personal rendition, but often times going on vacation is associated with the freedom of eating “bad foods”.

The aftermath: you find yourself back home, your jeans are a little more snug and you are overwhelmed with a sense of guilt.   I myself haver certainly gone overboard, but maybe if we changed our mentality of “all or nothing” we might find more success.  The all or nothing mentality can be described two ways.   You choose to eat extremely healthy and avoid all “bad foods”, or you indulge in “bad foods” and avoid healthy food.  PLOT TWIST: there can be a happy medium!  Finding a middle ground can ease you back into a healthy routine when you get back home from your vaca.  Here are my tips for not going overboard!


1. BYOB….Bring your own breakfast.

strawberry B-fast


Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to prepare in my opinion.  Packing some steel cut oats, fruit, or even some turkey bacon makes for a nutritious breakfast without all the added calories that you find in a restaurant breakfast combo.  If you are not staying somewhere with a kitchen, my go to is RX bars.  They have all natural ingredients and a variety of flavors to choose from.  Providing your own breakfast will save money and allow you to spend it elsewhere!



2. Sharing is caring.

food restaurant

Realistically, you might go out to eat at least once.  If that is the case, try sharing different dishes instead of ordering an individual entree to yourself.  By splitting a dish in half you are less likely to overeat and can sense when you begin to feel full.  This is great for portion control!  Plus, you might find a new favorite dish while sharing the culinary experience with a friend or family member!



3. Small plate magic trick.

plates restaurant

When I try to avoid overeating I ask the waitress to put my entree on a smaller plate.  My plate looks fuller, which tricks my body into thinking it’s getting more food.  Even though it is the same amount, I end up eating half and taking the other half home since it feels like I am eating more.  This illusion is definitely worth giving a try if you’re trying to avoid overeating.



4. Sweet Substitute.


The sweet tooth is real when it comes to vacation.  Whenever I am craving something sweet I try to have a healthy alternative on hand.  If your searching the menu for a healthy option check to see if the restaurant has some sort of fruit.  There is still a lot of sugar in fruit, but it will be more beneficial than eating a carb loaded cupcake or piece of cheesecake.  Another substitution would be dark chocolate.  I normally buy the 80-90% dark cacao bar and eat a small portion (2 squares).  The dark chocolate can be a little bitter but melt it over half a banana with a sprinkle of cinnamon and you have yourself a sweet alternative.  Finding substitutions can be fun, find what works for you!


Again, if you want a cupcake have a cupcake.  If you decide that is what you want to treat yourself, enjoy the cupcake and be aware of the rest of your meals that day.  Maybe you choose a light lunch, half of a chicken entree and then go for the cupcake.  Or maybe you have a burger, but you don’t eat the bun. It’s all about balance.  These tips are just a few that have helped me focus on portion control and have eliminated the continued bad habits after coming home from vacation.  Don’t be afraid to treat yourself, but remember to  feed your body nutrients that do not leave you feeling sluggish when you come home.  Finding that happy medium is the key!



-The Mod Maven



Thanks for reading! Please comment, share, and follow for more posts on health and wellness.  This post was not sponsored.