Meal Prepping Made Easy

Left: October 29, 2016.
Right: December 14, 2016.

When I show people this picture, I always get asked, “how long ago was the first picture?” and “how did you do this?” The progress to lose the weight took only 6 weeks! I’ve always worked out regularly for the last 3 years and was constantly trying to improve my diet. But at the end of October 2016, I noticed my shirts were getting tighter, my pants were bulging and uncomfortable, and I was not feeling confident looking at my pictures. My partner and I decided to cut down on junk food for 6 weeks and just see what happens. I did not change my regular workouts and exercise, which I’ve always done about 4-5 times a week. 3 times the least. The only difference during these 6 weeks was changing my diet.

First, we threw out almost all of our sweets and junk food. I wanted to do meal prepping like a regular person, not necessarily for body building goals or anything extreme. I’ve meal prepped for about 2 years, but this time I intentionally did meal prepping to force myself to put vegetables in my meals. I don’t like salads, nothing against salads, it’s just not for us. I wanted to find a container which will be able to have multiple compartments because I don’t like mixing my food. I needed containers that were microwavable and reusable, and BPA free. But I didn’t want to spend too much so I found containers like these:


BPA Free 2 Compartment Meal Prep Containers

I know some diets can be strict, but we didn’t want to do that to ourselves. Eating clean is the goal, but we still want our food to taste good. I don’t measure my food with a food scale. For me it was mainly to make sure I had more protein, more vegetables, and less carbs. I put extra food for my partner who eats more than me with extra carbs. If I was hungry, I would eat. It didn’t matter if it was late at night or before sleeping. The main thing is I continued to focus on eating clean. I also noticed that I ate a lot more food and a lot more times than before. I was always hungry! Healthy food just has less calories, so you get hungry faster. The difference was avoiding eating my favorites after getting off work past midnight, like bread and cheese, or Animal Style Fries from In-N-Out. That was the hardest part, getting off the freeway before 1am and making that decision to turn left to go home instead of turning right to go to the In-N-Out Drive Thru.

Since we are also both so busy, the meal prepping is a way for us to make sure we have food to eat. I’m usually watching TV after work while I’m meal prepping. It might be cooking the vegetables, watching the oven while I’m baking, watching the saucepan, or letting my quinoa get cooked in the rice cooker.  We try to do red meat once a week, but most of our food is mainly ground turkey, chicken, or fish. The fish is usually salmon or tilapia. Ingredients are pretty basic.

VEGETABLES
For vegetables, I can saute spinach, I can steam broccoli or cauliflower, but cauliflower does go bad quickly. I tried the cauliflower rice, which is just bits of cauliflower and can be mixed with the meat or the rice, but it goes bad in 2-3 days so it wasn’t really ideal for us. We do garlic spinach with no oil, I just spray the pan a little bit with Pam cooking spray. Put in the garlic, and then do the spinach. Don’t overcook it, squeeze some lemon in it and that should be good. I will also do asparagus or string beans. That’s for your veggies.

MEAT
For chicken, I just buy the rotisserie chicken at Costco or Ralph’s, and then I tear it up into pieces and put them into several meal prep containers. I used to love eating the chicken skin, but now we don’t eat any of the skin. Or I’ll buy drumsticks from Costco, marinate them overnight and then bake them. We take off the skin when it’s ready to eat.

For ground turkey, I buy the Foster Farms packages that are 93% Lean and 7% Fat. I cook it in a pot with garlic and a mix of different vegetables like roma tomatoes, onions, and celery. One time we were brave and tried the Foster Farms 99% Fat Free, and it ended up tasting like rubber. That was the first and last time we bought 99%. We decided a little fat is OK 😉

For red meat, I buy beef steaks. Since we both have genetically high cholesterol, we try not to eat this a lot so sometimes instead of buying and cooking we just go out to eat. If we cook, the fastest and easiest way is to use the George Foreman Grill. We use the same grill my partner’s been using since college.

FISH
For salmon, I just do a basic baked salmon recipe. When I buy salmon I buy from Costco, you can buy farmed or wild. Some people may want organic and wild. If I buy a lot of fish, I bring it home and first I separate what I want to cook. Maybe 2 to 3 days worth of meals instead of 7 days because I want the food to stay fresh, especially fish. I filet it, cut it into portions, and then freeze what I don’t cook. It saves you time later because you don’t have to thaw the whole fish again, just thaw the portion depending on how much you want to cook. And then when cooking the salmon I just sprinkle some garlic salt from Lawry’s and ground pepper. Make sure you dry the salmon, because it gets watery. Take out the water by patting it down with a paper towel before you bake it. You can use lemon pepper or Cajun flavoring depending on what you like. If you’re on a no salt or low salt diet, you can use Mrs Dash Salt-Free Seasoning or Flavor God low sodium seasoning. Then that’s it, bake it at 400 degrees for 10 minutes and then take it out. It took me a while to figure out how long to put the fish, but I mastered it at basically 10 minutes. It’s juicy and not dry, even after microwaving later. That’s the big problem with fish is that it gets dry.

For tilapia, I will do almost the same baking recipe as I do with the salmon. Separate the filets to cook and to freeze. Sometimes as a treat, I’ll fry it lightly with less oil and a little bit of tapioca starch which I found very tasty. The tapioca starch came from my (soon to be) mother-in-law. It’s not the best for us, but it’s very tasty. For oil, I use canola or olive oil.

FRUITS
Fruits are our sweet snacks and keep us from eating too much sweets or desserts. It just depends on what is in season. I like apples and mangoes, but I also like to buy strawberries, blueberries and grapes which are really easy and don’t require cutting. I rinse them and then put them in small containers like these:


Small Rubbermaid BPA Free Containers

GREEN SHAKES
I always drink a lot of water, but I also used to drink a lot of sugary drinks like the dollar Sweet Tea from McDonald’s. I started making Green Shakes, which is a mixture of a lot of veggies, some fruit, and a little juice and some water. I’ll drink a shake when I’m not having fruits that day, so I don’t have too much sugar from both the fruits and the shake.

For veggies, I always use celery and add either raw spinach or raw kale. For fruits I buy the big bags of frozen fruits from Costco, usually it’s the Mixed Berries or Mango Chunks. I grab a small handful of fruits. The juice will either be orange juice or carrot juice, mixed with water.

Sometimes I will add in chia seeds to help with digestion. Then I blend it all together in a Nutri Bullet. I have a juicer at home, but I get lazy to wash it. It’s easy to wash but it’s still one extra thing to wash. The Nutri Bullet is just easier to clean and maintain and we drink everything including the veggie pulp. These shakes don’t taste bad, but they should taste “healthy” and not necessarily delicious. It should be mostly veggies, which honestly I prefer to drink than to eat.

We use the Nutri Bullet every day, and it doesn’t take up a lot of space.

FOCUS ON THE ACTIVITY
I gave myself a cheat day during the week, but I tried not to overdo it and eat too bad. It usually ended up as a cheat meal and a few snacks throughout the day. Or it could be a little bit of sweets like an extra piece of a cupcake at the end of the week. I cut down on a lot of carbs like bread and white rice, I love those but I have to just know my limits. And then I tried to avoid the peer pressure at work to eat sweets or oily food. It really helped to prepare my food ahead of time, so when I got hungry I would always have something to eat that would be a healthy choice.

I kept progress by weighing myself almost daily, and it was really inspiring to see the weight go down so quickly! I was surprised, but my partner said it was because my body already had the muscle underneath from the last 3 years of working out. It was just my diet that was keeping me from slimming down. 3 years ago when I first started working out, I was not toned. I got discouraged when I wasn’t losing weight, but he told me it was OK to not lose weight right away because my body was now building muscle that it didn’t have before. If you don’t see weight loss right away, don’t get discouraged. Focus on doing the right activities, eating right and getting good exercise!

IT’S WORTH IT!

It takes a lot of time and energy to meal prep, especially after I get home from work. But when I’m done, I’m happy because we now have food to eat and I don’t have to worry about us being hungry for the next few days. Food that is healthy and I choose to cook exactly what we both like to eat. And I’m excited with my results! Clothes that no longer fit on me now fit again. I don’t want to say that my confidence is better because I look better, but it really makes a difference and I feel better. You gotta take care of your health, better to do it now than later. I’m here to support you if you need any help!

The Pros And Cons Of Constitutional Silver

Constitutional Silver is often referred to as Junk Silver, and sometimes referred to as 90% Silver or Pre-1964 Coins. With a few exceptions, Constitutional Silver carries 90% silver content and is dated 1964 or earlier due to The Coinage Act of 1965, which eliminated silver from US dimes and quarters and reduced silver in half dollars from 90% to 40%. After 1970, the half dollar’s 40% silver content was completely eliminated.

The term Junk Silver comes from coins that are in fair condition but have no collectible value outside of the silver content it contains. It is loosely called “junk” only because of the lack of collectible value as opposed to the condition of the coins.

Gresham’s Law states that “bad money drives out good money”, meaning that if there are two forms of money circulating and accepted as similar value, the more valuable form of money will disappear. This is why today, it is almost impossible to find Constitutional Silver coins among the base metal coins we see circulating today.

If there is one type of silver investment that requires applying a little elbow grease to obtain instead of just buying from precious metals websites, it would be Constitutional Silver. These websites charge relatively large premiums over spot price and won’t change their pricing, most likely due to their ability to provide convenience as well as allow targeted purchases (such as buying only Kennedy Half Dollars, or a roll of quarters). Meanwhile, local coin dealers and pawn shops will more easily negotiate the price because they must keep their product moving as they likely don’t have the deep pockets to match the companies that own these websites. Expect a mixed bag of random coins, which can be bought indiscriminately or purchased by your own choosing based on their limited selection. Since there’s no real collectible value, the main point of contention is going to be how much or how little gets paid over spot price.

ADVANTAGES OF CONSTITUTIONAL SILVER
Constitutional Silver is very popular with preppers if the proverbial crap hits the spinning object, for several reasons:
1) Easily recognizable coins in dimes, quarters, and half dollars
2) Legal tender which can still be spent as dimes, quarters, and half dollars – even if it’s a bad idea to do so today
3) Smaller denominations that are less than 1 troy ounce, as small as dimes that contain less than 1/10 of an ounce of silver
4) Can be obtained at close to spot price or even at spot price of silver, and regardless it’s still actual silver
5) If hyperinflation were to kick in with our current global fiat currency, such as in Venezuela or Zimbabwe, the idea is that precious metals would maintain their purchasing power and constitutional silver could be a nice alternative to have around

DISADVANTAGES OF CONSTITUTIONAL SILVER
1) They can take up a lot of room and weigh a lot, storage generally isn’t as simple as stacking up 99.9% silver bars and rounds
2) There is no additional numismatic value, the silver content is only good for its “melt value”
3) If a societal collapse were to happen, Constitutional Silver could be very valuable for bartering if this actual situation were to occur. But if there is no collapse, avoid adding 35-40% silver coins to your collection as there is next to no demand from dealers and selling those back will fetch much less than spot price. That’s a lot of dead weight for storage compared to 90% silver coins.
4) Understand the process when selling to a dealer. A dealer will pay the most for 99.9% silver, so if you walk in with 90% silver to sell, the dealer has to give up part of his present cash flow to hold silver that is not as easily tradable as 99.9% silver. In extreme market or societal situations, if a dealer’s cash flow is tied up, 90% silver could suffer a larger discount relative to the spot price.

Each coin is different in weight, it’s not rounded off nicely like 1 troy ounce. And even then, only 90% of it is silver. Next, let’s figure out the easy trick to calculate the actual silver content within each coin.

Silver Shield – A Unique and Revolutionary Art Series

I initially came across the Silver Shield brand by accident while looking for other silver rounds on eBay, and coming across ads that kept asking if “you might also be interested” in something else. Usually I gloss over the ads but every once in a while I would do a double take. Nothing else came close to catching my attention the way the Silver Shield rounds would for their well made designs and clever themes that brought me in for a closer look. It’s one thing to simply enjoy silver artwork, but to recognize that there’s a deeper meaning behind the designs allows a greater appreciation for it. Eventually, I started searching for the Silver Shield product, and the search results were nothing short of stunning. One fantastic piece followed the next, some witty and funny, others blunt and scornful. Most of which were must own pieces.

How’s this for believing in your own product? The owner and creator, Chris Duane, eats his own cooking by keeping no less than the first 100 rounds in every single mintage he puts out (and 20 each of his 5 ounce mintages), and his prolific work is relentless. Relentless in the amount of material he releases in rapid fire succession, relentless in the backlog of material he is still itching to put out, and particularly relentless in his unapologetic message, where he holds absolutely nothing back. Who knows if most people will be able to understand his point of view of the world as it is today, only time will tell. But looking at his creative skills, it’s clear Mr Duane is working his hardest to spread his form of exposure and awareness.

As of now, in my view no other precious metals designer has been able to match the combination of intense wit or the art quality that displays Mr Duane’s often satirical messages. Anyone else who has tried to mint something clever has either come across as trying too hard or not trying hard enough. Their message is typically questionable at best with no clear point or understandable meaning, and the artwork is almost always crude and laughable. It often wreaks with the desperate smell of a money grab. Meanwhile, the Silver Shield message stays on point and flows with ease.

Just have a look for yourself, at some of my favorite designs:

Uncle Sam wants you, by gunpoint if necessary.

“I conquer not by force but by virtue.”

Santa hat – 5 dollars. Racking up the debt. Thousands of dollars. This design? Priceless. For everything else, there’s SlaveCard.

Is this what the Christmas season is really about? The Bratty Child shows her ungratefulness, Sex sells, and the sucker keeps the party going with his SlaveCard. Ho Ho Ho, Merry Consumerism!

The superficial modern day version of Lady Liberty, chained down with debt in all of her bikini clad, high heeled, Botox lipped, selfie taking glory. Source: Chasing Obscurity

Here’s a side by side comparison:

Satire of the American Silver Eagle. No longer with olive branches but with a war axe. No longer in humble sandals but in stiletto pumps. No longer the graceful gesture but now the perfect camera angle to capture the duck lips.

This next round is titled The Crucible, which is a type of vessel holding substances that can be heated to high temperatures. But there’s a second definition for “crucible”, which also means a severe trial or test. Something that most of us can identify with on a regular basis.

Essentially the Silver Shield itself, fighting back the flames of lies and corruption in search of the truth. Credit: Chasing Obscurity

The highly sought after Pyramid of Power set:

The Pyramid of Power series, designs 1-7

The Pyramid of Power series, designs 8-14

The ultra rare and ever elusive to find “Indoc” reverse proof

The art just jumps out better on these larger diameter 2 Oz proofs.

There’s something special and indescribable holding this 2 Oz “NTG” in the hand when compared to the other 1 Oz rounds.

The picture below is a powerful example of one of Mr Duane’s simple and straight to the point messages:

The NON-government owned Federal Reserve.

One of my all time favorites is this next design, part of the Slave Queen series titled Democide. Every detail has a purpose.

A mock of Queen Elizabeth II, who is on the obverse of so many coins in existence. A skillful play off of the James Bond movie “License to Kill”, with the gun barrel background. Credit: Chasing Obscurity

With one of the stranger elections in recent memory, it’s no surprise that 2016 was dominated by election headlines. Chris Duane was right there to document his version of the news.

Corruption knows no political boundaries.

No presidential candidate was safe from their own dirty laundry. Here’s a few of the highlights.

Getting ready to make his move…

Rejected!

How about…

Hillary defending herself in the Benghazi scandal…

and Chris Duane immortalizing Hillary on a reverse proof.

Football fans may notice the New England Patriots logo in the over-the-top hairdo on the next one.

Read the bottom phrase carefully. The last letter is a “B”

How many times did we hear about “having to vote for the lesser evil” before the election?

If you haven’t seen the fictional President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho from the satire comedy film Idiocracy, it is absolutely a must watch movie. The following design mimics a scene straight out of the epic flick, except with Trump wearing Camacho’s presidential attire.

Who could forget Trump bragging about his big hands? The rocket has the words “Freedom Is Coming”, a classic double entendre.

And one more hilarious masterpiece:

A Few Thoughts On Miscellaneous Physical Silver

Since spot price is based on per troy ounce, a 1 troy ounce bar, round, or coin is easy to resell and also easy to find storage space, making it the most attractive and also the most popular. For this basic reason, owning anything in different sizes should always be carefully scrutinized before you decide to add these to your collection.

Owning strange pieces in a collection should likewise be judged with extreme caution. Remember to build a collection primarily for your own individual taste, but also in the event of selling off parts or all of it in the future. Unless you just have enormous amounts of money to blow, in which case I’d happily accept charity from you, consider your precious metals as also a very good form of investment of which it can be sold into a relatively liquid market sometime in the future. The more strange the piece of silver, the more limited the demand will be for someone else to want to buy it. When it comes to your collection and investment, don’t be that weird person dressed up in a great formal suit, but killing your own look with orange striped Dr Seuss socks. You can still maintain your individuality without literally having to dress like a clown.

Don’t be like these guys!

Large Bars: These which I generally consider as anything over 1 troy ounce, are more commonly sold in round number ounces (such as 5, 10, 100) and can also be sold in grams (such as 250 grams, 1 kilogram). These are primarily held less for their art appeal and more for increasing total silver ounces in a precious metals collection.

In general, the larger the bar, the lower the premium it will cost over the spot price per ounce. For example, while a 100 troy ounce silver bar may be attractive to buy relative to cost over spot, the demand for it to resell later is extremely low. This is due to its higher cost of owning 100 ounces all at once, the lack of flexibility of being able to sell, say just 20 ounces, and the large area space needed to store the bar itself. And there’s just not a whole lot of surface area for art that can be put on a large silver bar, relative to the surface area of 100 individual troy ounces of silver.

Larger Size Rounds and Fractional Rounds: most 1 troy ounce silver coins and rounds have a diameter between 38mm to 40mm. Due to this universal sizing, even many 2 troy ounce silver coins carry the same diameter but are essentially twice as thick when looking on the edge.

I like them thick

Thicker rounds with the same diameter up to 40mm make storage pretty much just as easy. Storage gets tougher once coins and rounds have a diameter that exceeds 40mm. For example, the 1 troy ounce Perth Mint Lunar Series coins are 45.6mm in diameter. While these coins remain extremely popular, they cannot be stored like most other rounds. Also, if the plastic capsules that hold them get cracked or broken, they are much tougher to find and replace.

As for fractional coins and rounds, these are typically smaller than 1 troy ounce. I’m not really sure what the point of fractional rounds are. I’ve been told that in case of a societal collapse it would be good to have the option to barter with smaller fractions of silver. To each their own, just know that fractional rounds carry a high premium over spot price. And if the world does collapse, I’d rather have something to barter with that didn’t cost me a big premium up front to obtain, like constitutional silver.

Odd Shapes: Have you ever watched a movie that started really bad, and you hoped it would get better as it went on, and then it just never got better? And after it ended, you wondered how a group of people came together and somehow approved and produced such a bad movie? Sometimes I wonder the same thing with how certain pieces of silver get made. I’ve seen 3D pyramid shapes, hexagonal “rounds”, miniature silver statues of dragons or fairies, GI Joe type silver figurines, and even a 3D coin in the shape of an oyster shell with a pearl in it. The shell looked ridiculous in my opinion, but even if the people who bought it thought it looked great, there’s for sure others who also would think it looks ridiculous. The point being, understand that owning these odd shaped pieces would almost certainly hinder its resale value. If you really, really, really love it, well even then think real hard about it before pulling the trigger if you must. But otherwise, beware the grotesque.

I feel the urge to give this reminder…

Don’t be like these guys!

Holiday Rounds: Holiday rounds are issued by different mints on a regular basis, and most of them look gimmicky with uninspiring art. The premiums to purchase these rounds are high, and of course the websites aggressively promote them as the appropriate holiday approaches. It’s like the designers just threw something out there last minute with little thought, to take advantage of whatever sales they could scrounge up before the holiday ends and the next one comes up. The Christmas rounds seem to be in particular the most notorious for bad artwork. Don’t let your holiday spirit sucker you in. Choose wisely, or don’t choose at all.

Here’s one of the rare Christmas rounds that had some thought put into it, with great art and even a little story in it. In this case, Christmas round or not, a picture truly is worth a thousand words.

The Abominable Snowman gets the jump on Santa

Few are made anywhere near as nicely as this Halloween themed round:

The Headless Horseman – 2 Oz Round with Antique Finish

Colored Rounds: Just looking at a silver color over and over can eventually get boring, so surely that’s the thought behind where colored rounds were created. And many of these are done spectacularly, giving the coins and rounds a lot of life. Some people will take a silver coin and paint on their own colors with amateur methods, then try to sell them at jacked up prices. Only a greater fool pays for damaged coins like that. Nothing but colored rounds done professionally by the mint should be considered. And even then, remember that the premiums usually shoot through the roof. Colored rounds for the most part are priced as collectibles, and of course that limits its future upside.

A couple more things about colored rounds: some of them no matter how professionally done, still look dreadful. Some of them have so much color, they are no longer recognizable as silver coins. Nor are their sky high prices recognizable either.

The coin pictured below has not been priced as high as a collectible, although it still costs a hefty premium over spot price. The art is done directly by Perth Mint and looks terrific.

Lunar Monkey King 1 Oz Round by Perth Mint

Enjoy the art, but getting too fancy could limit your ability to resell in the future if it lacks popularity. It’s easy to say “I don’t care if there is no future market, I would never sell this item anyway”. However, never say never to whatever our future circumstances may be. We may simply dislike that item later, or we may be forced to raise cash for a short term emergency. A liquid market to sell into would be very helpful.