I am sure you have all heard this saying before “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. It may sound a bit harsh but it is SO true, especially when it comes to preparing your meals.
Don’t let the term overwhelm you Meal prep can just become - I’m cooking for the week.
And here’s the thing - yes it will take up time to organize, plan, and actually cook the meals, however you get all that time back during the week. Consider all the time you spend thinking about what you’re going to eat, making random grocery store runs for a few items here and there. Does that sound familiar? How much time wasting doing all that? Think about the mental energy it takes up it takes up in your mind during the week - when you have 100 other things to do. If this part of your life is already setup on auto pilot, what else would you be able to do with that extra time and mental energy?
Maybe you can actually sit and enjoy eating the meal for a longer period of time. When we dine ou - we make it an experience. We sit, relax, and enjoy our meals. Why not make most of your meals an experience? Remember, food is meant to be enjoyed.
Let’s talk about why meal prepping is so important
We live in one of the busiest times in history - where we have not just jobs - but careers, relationships, family, perhaps motherhood, and keeping up a social life oh and taking care of yourself. We live in very privileged world as women have choice for everything in our lives, however think we still expect more from our women. We are expected to do it all - or maybe you expect that of yourself. So If preparing at least 70% of you meals in advance can help take some stress off your shoulders - why not?
Also, If you don’t plan and prepare your meals in advance, you’ll often find yourself eating junk or the wrong foods over and over - just out of habit and routine. You will be reacting to hunger vs acknowledging and planning for it.
People will often ask me - What should I do if I don’t have time to cook or meal prep at all
When I get asked that - I ask them how much of a priority is it for you to feel strong, energetic, and confident in the skin you’re in? It may sound a bit abrupt, but it’s important to ask yourself these tough questions.
I question if not having the time an obstacle or an an objection. Are you saying it’s not possible or is not a priority?
The truth is - we make time for what we believe is important to us. If having an abundance of healthy, delicious foods ready and available to you is important - then I’m confident that you will organize the same 24 hours that we all get so that you do have time to partake in one of the most basic forms of self care - eating.
That being said, there will be times when you will be short on time and in those instances, you make what I call set it and forget it recipes like casserole or slow cooker recipes that you throw together and walk away. Let the gadgets to the heavy lifting.
So now let’s talk about how to actually meal prep
Pick a day of the week. A lot of people meal prep on Sundays, but for you it can be on any day you have more time.
2. Set a aside 2-3 hours to complete the shopping, chopping, and cooking. This may sound like a lot, but remember you will buy that time back during the week. Make it an experience - have your significant or girlfriends prep with you. Cooking is an incredible bonding experience. If you need alone time, pour some wine, turn on the music, and make it therapeutic "me time.". The options are endless - all you have to do is decide how you are going to make this process enjoyable for you.
3. Plan how many meals you will have from home and how many meals you will eat out. Be realistic.
The purpose isn’t to deprive yourself of eating out, but its to make sure you are eating cleaning 90% of the time. If you've never tried meal prepping before don't try to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for an entire week. You'll go crazy. Instead figure out when you're busiest and make meals based around that.Maybe you never have time for lunch, or you don't want to cook dinner after a long day. If that's the case try making a week of lunches and/ or dinners.
4. Pick 3 recipes for the week. If you pick 2 familiar ones, and 1 new recipe, by the end of the month, you will have learned four new recipes. Keep it simple, don’t get hung up creative, fancy recipes. When you’re first starting out, stick to flavors you already enjoy. There are tons of healthy food blogs out to choose from. Eventually, you will have a few favorites that you keep on rotating.
5. Write up a grocery list. This will help you save time at the grocery store. You get what you need and you get out - typically within the hour. Plus you won't be wasting money or food. Try to go grocery shopping during off time, so you’re not waiting on line for 20 min just to check out.
6. Cook the meal. Start with items that you will take longer to cook such as rice or quinoa. Set a timer so you don't burn it.
Prepare your protein, bake or grill that as well. While all of that being cooked, chop of the veggies and season them generously with seasonings and herbs. Most vegetables taste delicious roasted in the oven with coconut oil and seasonings.
If you’re going to eat, you might as well eat something that tastes good.There’s nothing worse then eating bland, boring food in the name of health. Because if you’re not happy during the meal AND after your meal - it’s not healthy. Part of being healthy is felling satisfied and fulfilled.
7. Finally, if you have a sweet tooth, PREPARE DESSERT. Do not deny yourself dessert, make a healthier version at home. If you restrict yourself there is higher possibility of overindulgence with most likely something really unhealthy later on. My motto is just find the cleanest versions of your favorite foods. If you like brownies, try making back bean brownies. They are delicious, I promise. If you enjoy cookies, bake oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. You can also slice and grill apples with coconut oil and cinnamon for a quick sweet bite. Have an apple or banana with Peanut or almond Butter. There’s so many options for healthy desserts.
After the food is all done, let it cool and store it in containers. Some people prefer to portion it out for the week, others like to store it in big containers and make different variations everyday using those ingredients so the meals are a little different each day. The preference is yours. If you’re prepping all 5 days, I suggest freezing Thursdays and Friday’s meals. Some foods stay well for 5 days, others don’t - use your judgement.
Finally, investing in high quality containers is very helpful. I always recommend using glass containers but If you use plastic, please be sure they are BPA free, especially if you’re going to warm up your meals in the same container. I personally mason jars. They are my saving grace. They are affordable, sustainable, and you can freeze or warm things up in them.
I hope this sheds some light on what meal prep means and, more importantly, how to do it. Remember to do what feels comfortable for you and it accommodates your lifestyle. A little bit of meal prep is still better than none at all. Even it's just chopping up a few veggies and packing them as snacks, it's a great start to start eventually building on.