“Just meal prep at the beginning of the week, it’s so easy!” I’m sure we’ve all heard this comment made at least once. Meal prepping can be simple… for someone who regularly does it or enjoys making food in advance. But what if you are new and don’t know how to fit that activity into your busy schedule??
Well then you are in the right place to learn how to meal prep now and save time later!
Preparing food in advance is a super efficient way to save time throughout the week or the rest of your day. Not to mention, if you know what you’re going to eat, you don’t need to worry later about finding “the healthy option” or a “low-calorie choice.” You have already made that decision to eat a healthy and satisfying meal, so it makes following through so much easier! We dive deeper in our other post: Don’t Forget to Eat!
Here are our tips for making meal prep simple!
1. Simplify your weekly menu
Creating a menu for dinner, or even for all your meals throughout the day does not need to be complicated! With breakfast, lunch and dinner for seven days in a week, that is 21 different potential meals! You’ll drive yourself crazy if you try to make something unique for each and every meal.
Whip out a pen and paper, and chart all 7 days of the week. Fill in any meals that you have scheduled, such as a date night or business lunch. Label the restaurant you are going to, and you can even take a peek at the menu in advance to decide what healthy option you will order.
For breakfast, eat the same thing every morning, and switch it up the next week. For the remaining meals left during your week, plan two lunch recipes, and three dinner recipes that you will have, and rotate through. That way you can save yourself a huge headache and less time grocery shopping.
Another option is to simplify your weekly meal prep by having some of your lunches pre-made. You can look into local meal prep companies such as Protein House or Atlas Meals, and have a healthy, balanced lunch delivered to your door!
2. Build each meal around a protein source
Every meal, yes including snacks, should include a protein source. We say this for a few reasons:
First, it makes it easier to ensure you consume an adequate amount of protein for the day if you have a little at each meal and snack, rather than saving most protein for dinner. Two, this slows down the rate at which carbohydrates travel into your bloodstream, thus affecting your blood sugar levels. Three, you will stay satisfied longer and feel less hungry throughout the day, preventing you from binging on starchy or sugary foods.
After you’ve selected your protein source, you’ll build a balanced plate with a complex carbohydrate (rice, potatoes, quinoa, etc), veggie (make em’ colorful!) and a little healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, etc). Make sure to check your portion sizes using this easy guide:
3. Cook in bulk
- There are several ways to cook in bulk, so try the following options to see what works best for you:
- Cook chicken for an entire week of dinners
- Chop veggies up for the next few days so they are ready to cook (or buy pre-chopped!)
- Prepare your meals for the next day, the night before
- Make dinner one night and saving leftovers for the next day’s lunch or dinner
4.Have Healthy Snacks On Hand
If you are one to get a late afternoon craving a little before dinner, that is okay! If you are new to learning about nutrition, it’s a good idea to start slow. Having healthy snacks on hand for between meals is one of the best ways to prevent yourself from making bad food choices if you get too hungry!
First, you need to build your pantry for your lifestyle. If you consistently have highly refined foods within reach, it is going to be very challenging to substitute them out for healthier alternatives. So don’t buy food that doesn’t align with your health goals! You can’t eat what’s not in the house!
Second, any time you have a snack, pair it with either a fat or protein source. Here are some examples:
- Cottage cheese + fruit
- Almonds + apple
- Nut butter + banana
- Cheese stick + carrots
- Whole wheat crackers + hummus
- Fresh veggies + hummus
- Tuna packet + Whole wheat crackers
Meal prepping should not be a burden, it should be a tool! It’s something you are able to use to your advantage and if done right, will make your life less stressful. Checkout our Facebook page as we share some meal prep ideas or drop us a line for more tips!