Are you tired of all the meal prepping photos popping up EVERYWHERE? You know the ones- they show rows and rows of uniform food all packaged up into little plastic containers. Every time I see one of those I want to run at the screen with a sledge hammer just like the heroine in the iconic Apple Macintosh ad where she (representing the computer) saves the world from conformity. Smash!
So ya, the idea of eating the same little box of food day after day completely turns me off. How about you?
But everybody says that’s the key to eating healthy, so what to do? I do agree that planning out meals and prepping ingredients ahead of time is key. It really does help you eat healthier and it frees up time and anguish spent each day on what to eat AND it saves you money! But it doesn’t have to be boring.
While it doesn’t have to be an arduous process it does take some level of commitment and work … I might not even call it work, it’s more on the lines of forethought.
When I started meal prepping, It took a few weeks (maybe months) to really get into the habit. But coming home from work and being able to just toss pre-ready ingredients together in minutes meant I could eat put dinner together and actually eat before the delivery guy could arrive. I also found myself snacking on more veggies and fruit instead of chips and crackers as long as they were cleaned, cut and ready to grab. This was one of the first steps in helping to change the way I ate and it’s key to how I approach meals to the this day.
It helps to think about cost first:
- You can make a batch of grains (rice, quinoa, freekah) for around .20-.30 cents per serving. In a restaurant, just that as a side dish that will cost you over $3-$6 on average!
- Lentils are even cheaper to make at home, costing about .15 cents per 1 cup serving.
- Eggs, which are one of nature’s most nutritious pre-packaged natural ingredient, run about 17 cents per egg.
Can you feel the savings already?
Now look at what you are actually buying:
When buy a pre-packaged box or bag of food from the store, a lot of what we pay for is actually the packaging, shipping and marketing not to mention the added chemicals and preservatives, which are bad for our systems anyway. Making your own homemade salad dressing can be as simple as shaking a bit of lemon, oil, vinegar and a few spices in a left-over peanut butter jar. Voila! No chemicals, nothing unpronounceable and no extra bottle to dispose of after. Super simple and the jar is reusable hundreds of times.
Make it simple:
Yes, you do need to set aside time to actually prep the food. Turn on your favorite show, pop on a podcast or crank some music and just do it.
- Set aside 1 – 2 hours one day a week for prepping
- Don’t go overboard, just a couple of meals – don’t try to make 14 meals at once
- Make a list and stick to it. Those supermarket endcaps and deathly to the healthy diet so put your blinders on and keep to the list
Just think about what you like to eat and build from there. Pick a protein, add veggies and grains and most important is the the sauce. When you spend a little time cutting veggies, whisking a dressing, baking a chicken and cooking a few grains, you’ll find that both lunches and dinners become a snap to put together.
- Weekly tasks
- Chop or spiralize veggies
- For in salads and soups
- For snacking
- Spiralize onions and freeze in baggies; break apart once frozen
- Zoodles and butternut squash noodles last up to 5 days
- Carrots, onions and peppers last up to a week
- Rinse greens
- Wrap in moist paper towel, roll and store in crisper
- Mix dressings
- Most dressing will last a week to two weeks
- Cook soups or stew
- Have all the ingredients ready (beans, small diced veggies, cooked meat) and just add to a thermos in the morning with hot broth
- Cook hard boiled eggs in the oven
- Place eggs in a muffin tin, bake for 30 minutes
- Create smoothie freezer bags
- Place ingredients in a ziplock bag and freeze. In the morning add to blender with liquid and blend
- Chop or spiralize veggies
It’s even easier if you buy a few things prepped for you:
- Buy a rotisserie chicken or turkey for ease.
- Use the grocery store salad bar for pre-cut veggies
- Homemade is best but there are decent options out there, just remember to look at the ingredients and look or more fresh versions usually found in the chiller near the produce.
- Save extras in your freezer to use next week
Once you have everything prepped, you COULD assemble each meal into a few containers but I like to leave each item separate and get creative each day with the items I want. Most important is to start small and grow into it. A couple of hours a week is all it takes to make all the difference in your health and your pocket book.
Imagine this, if you had all this prepped: protein, a grain or two, various veggies, lettuces, fruits and a two sauces or salsas, you could make dishes like these in mintues:
- Stuffed peppers
- Simple fried rice
- Spiralized noodle salad
- Stuffed avocado
- Tortilla pizza
- Buddha bowls
- Lettuce wraps
- Lettuce wraps
- Tortilla or sandwich
- Jar salad
- Burrito with salsa
Incorporating a few of these food prep tips really will help your healthy, un-boring side prevail.
Need a little more help with your meal prep and planning? Contact me for a private working session.