Eating healthy can be hard, I’ll be the first to admit that. It isn’t always easy to choose prepare the healthy meal when unhealthier foods can be made much faster. And while there is beginning to be healthier options at fast-food places, it is still best for you to eat as many home-cooked and prepared meals as you can and eat out only when it is necessary. Luckily, if you spend just a little bit of time (I’m talking 2-3 hours) a weekend (or whatever day is best for you), you can plan and prepare your meals for the week to ensure you’re being fueled through your day all week-long! Really, the old cliché statement, “a little goes a long way”, is so true here! If you haven’t tried it or haven’t found success in doing so, I highly recommend you try out the following tips to both plan and prepare your meals for the week!
1. Plan ahead before you shop
Oftentimes people have good intentions when they go grocery shopping, but if you don’t have a plan for your meals, it can be hard to know exactly what and how much of it to buy. Planning also allows you to have an idea of what your meals will be instead of scrambling around last-minute or just skipping the meal (big no-no!). An easy way to plan ahead is to write your meals you plan to make and eat down ahead of time. This can be on a piece of paper, a whiteboard, chalkboard, app such as My Fitness Pal etc. For example, write each day of the week down and then what you’ll have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that day. This will help you know how what to buy to make for dinner and what days you’ll eat leftovers, etc. Planning takes about 5-10 minutes and it really makes eating healthy hassle-free!
2. Be okay with leftovers
Before I get into ideas of how to meal prep, now that you’ve planned so well, this is an important statement: learn to like and eat leftovers. I mean this isn’t like 100% absolutely necessary, but unless you just LOVE cooking 7 nights a week, it sure helps. To be able to cook 2-3 times a week and still have healthy dinners every night (i.e. not getting fast food or ordering a pizza because you don’t have anything to cook/eat), is a really life-saver for eating healthy and a big time saver if you’re always busy (who isn’t these days?) I think leftovers get a bad rap, but they don’t have to be boring–mine certainly aren’t! Some nights I do eat the same exact “meal” again, but often my leftovers consist of batches of chicken or rice or ground turkey that I made earlier in the week and then I use them to make creative, delicious and healthy meals throughout the week! Learn to have fun and enjoy creating meals out of leftovers and eating healthy will be that much more simple!
3. Meal Prep: Big Batches for Lunches/Dinner
Every weekend I spend 2-3 hours total grocery shopping and meal prepping to prepare myself for the coming week. 2-3 hours, that’s it. One of the biggest keys for meal prepping is to make large batches, hence the leftovers statement above. I’ll bake 2-3 chicken breasts, cook up some ground turkey, make a few servings of rice, etc. so that throughout the week I have lots of options for fun and healthy meals! You can make batches of soup or chili in the crockpot, cook meats in the crockpot, roast veggies, bake chicken, cook ground meat, prepare batches of grains such as rice or pasta. The options are endless so find what works for you and do it! TIP: Get a lot of different sizes of tupperware…you’re gonna need it.
Meal Prep: Breakfasts and Snacks
Meal prepping isn’t just for lunches and dinners either! As you’ll see in the picture below, I prepped some bags of snacks and breakfast sandwiches too. You can make freezer breakfast sandwiches or burritos, make a big batch of overnight oats or even oatmeal in the crock-pot, make egg muffins/scramble/frittata. For snacks, make your own trail mix like I did, or portion out a serving of the snack into baggies to have quick, ready-to-grab-and-go snacks for yourself! Also, have a few bars ready to go (my go-tos: Oatmega, Larabar, RX Bar). These meals and snacks don’t have to be rushed if you take the time at the beginning of each week to prepare!
This is a picture of my meal prep from this past week! Quinoa, ground turkey, baked chicken, homemade trail mix, egg breakfast sandwiches.
I made this mediterranean quinoa salad from the quinoa and chicken leftovers I had from prep. Just to show you that making big batches and having leftovers doesn’t have to “be boring” or “get old” if you have a little fun with it! (I also did a blog post about the creative meals I make using my leftovers…so check that out!)
What are your tips and ideas for making eating healthy easier by meal planning and prepping?