Meal Prep Tips for a Simpler Week
Alright I can’t live in denial any longer, it’s happening, summer is drawing to an end whether we like it or not and I’m back to work tomorrow with the kiddos joining me in about a week. How does the summer always seem to go by too quickly? With work and school approaching, life is about to get busy and it’s time to get back into a routine. Living a healthy lifestyle is a priority of mine, and it definitely takes preparation and commitment. I have found that in order to stay on track with my goals, budget, and healthy eating habits I need to prepare my meals, snacks, and food I have on hand in advance.
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” – John Wooden
What is “Meal Prep”?
Meal prep can mean different things to different people, but essentially it’s a routine of preparing your meals and snacks for the week (or just a few days) in advance. I love it because it takes the guess work out of my week, and I never find myself staring at the refrigerator or driving through a drive through in a pinch. Typically meal prep works well on a Sunday and consists of washing, chopping, cooking, and preparing meals and snacks for grab-and-go during the work week. This strategy is a surefire way to keep me on track and in alignment with my fitness, health, and wellness goals. It helps me ensure I am nourishing myself properly for work and work-outs, decreases stress (everything is already set and ready!), and saves me so much time in the long run. For me, meal prep looks like about a 2-3 hour routine of grocery shopping and cooking on Sunday afternoon in order to have all my breakfasts, lunches, and snacks prepared for the week. I like to cook dinner each night, or go out with friends 🙂 For you though, your routine might be longer or shorter, and you may choose to only do dinners, lunches, breakfast or any combination! It’s good to trial different strategies until you find the routine that works best for you and aligns with your goals most efficiently.
Benefits of Meal Prepping:
- You’re more likely to eat healthy
- You will be more likely to make progress towards your health/wellness goals
- You’ll save your mental energy (everything is already prepared!)
- Less stress
- Saves time
- You’ll feel better (because you’ll eat better!)
- Saves money
- Decreases mindless snacking
Okay, Let’s do it! Here are 5 simple meal prepping steps:
- Have a strategy. First brainstorm recipes that sound appealing to you and are easy to make in large batches. Then create a grocery shopping list. Know in advance which grocery stores you will need to go to, and plan out your shopping trip. Maybe you can pick up all the ingredients at Costco, or perhaps you might have to make a stop at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods depending on your dietary needs and what you will be cooking. I like to do this step on Friday or Saturday.
- Go grocery shopping. Stick to your plan and purchase your groceries accordingly. I always get into trouble when I start throwing random items into my cart. Always stick to the plan! I like to do this step on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.
- Wash, Chop, Store. This is more for snacks and veggies/fruits you plan to use in salads or smoothies. I like to buy a ton fresh fruits and veggies to use for easy and healthy snacks during the work week. Go ahead and wash all your fruits/veggies and chop them up if need be. Store them in individual containers/baggies for a grab-and-go snack, smoothie-pack, or as a side for a meal. I like to do this step as soon as I get home from the grocery store.
- Fire up the oven! I love roasting a pan of veggies, baking sweet potatoes, and/or making a big casserole type dish (think enchiladas, lasagna, quiche, etc.) that I can then portion out. All of these items can be great for a main meal, or used in smaller portions as a side or snack. Use your strategy and recipe game plan, and cook your ingredients accordingly.
- Portion & Assemble. In this final step you will put together each ingredient to assemble each meal. For example, if I am making a beans & rice dish for my lunches I would take out 5 containers and portion out a serving of beans, rice, veggies, spinach, and any other toppings into each container. Hold off on adding ingredients that would taste best added day of (like avocado) or make the meal become soggy (like dressing or oils). Considering all other fruits and veggies are already chopped and bagged, you already have options to easily pair for a side and just like that 5 lunches done and ready to go! Complete the same process for breakfasts/snacks/dinners.
I hope these steps are helpful to you! Do you tend to meal prep? What do you find to be the barriers of meal prepping?