Life gets so busy that it can be hard to eat healthy during the week. It’s so easy to pick-up breakfast on the way to work, or takeout dinner on the way home. I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to do that, and since those haven’t been an option, I had to figure out a way to make sure that I always had something ready to eat in the fridge. Even though there are times where takeout is a lot easier, it’s so much more satisfying to eat a home cooked meal that I know exactly what was used to prepare it. Meal prep is the only way that I am able to stay on track with my health and fitness goals.
I spend about 3-4 hours every weekend doing my meal prep, from washing and cutting up all my fruits and veggies for the week, to cooking meals and preparing snacks. The advantage is that during the week, I spend less than 30 minutes in the kitchen preparing my lunch box for the next day (including breakfast, 2 snacks, and lunch) as well as my dinner. Considering that I get home from the gym around 6:30 – 7:00 PM at least 4 times per week, it’s a life saver because I don’t have a lot of time to get everything done and I’ll also have some me-time and/or hubby-time. At the end of the day, I feel happy that I am investing time and effort in my health. Even though it can be tiring to spend that much time in the kitchen in one go doing all the meal prep, I always feel happy and proud that I rarely (if ever buy) my lunch or breakfast during the week (other than a few coffees, which I also want to minimize) and I can also have home cooked dinners.
I still have room for improvement when it comes to meal prep (i.e. not making the kitchen look like the Tasmanian devil just went through it) but there are few simple tricks that go a long way and I wish I had learned them from the beginning. These are good foundation tips if you are just starting to get into meal prepping.
–Invest in storage containers: My grandmother was a Tupperware lady over 50 years ago and I swear by them. I have specific containers for my veggies that keep them fresh all week (seriously though, they are AMAZING!) and I also have specific containers for the freezer. Investing in a good quality set of containers that can be stacked together not only helps organizing your fridge and freezer to be able to see everything easily, but it will also keep your food fresh longer.
–Plan ahead: Choose your recipes and plan your grocery list. Plan your breakfast, lunch, snacks, and at least 2-3 dinners. I have a table in my Bullet Journal where I organize what I will eat every day so that I’m sure every meal is covered and I can plan ahead if I will be going out for dinner one evening or if I will be home earlier one evening and will have time to cook. You should even decide if you want to spend one evening cooking because leftovers can be your lunch for the following day and you want to factor that in. Just make sure that you are thinking ahead so that way you can plan accordingly!
–Your freezer is your best friend: I always cook a bit more and the leftovers are split in individuals containers for a single lunch in case I don’t have time to cook over the weekend. I always have at least 2-3 of these containers ready to go in the freezer and they are life-savers! I will also freeze things like cooked onions or chopped garlic that I can use the next time I cooked something. This is especially helpful if I decide to cook a meal during the week because it saves a lot of time not having to chop and cook onions for example.
–Prepare everything: Wash all your fruits and veggies to make it as easy as possible for you during the week. Think ‘Grab-and-Go’ so that you really don’t have an excuse. I always have fruits ready to be eaten, and all my veggies are cut up so I just need to put them in a container to go alongside my lunch.
–Build your repertoire: Have a few go-to recipes that you know how to make in your sleep so that if you are tight on time during the weekend, you can at least prepare one meal and double up the recipe that will last you for a few more lunches. This means that you’ll have to eat the same thing over and over again, but I don’t mind. I’d rather do that then buy my lunch!
–Make it fun: You are taking care of your body and your overall health, so do it with a smile! I listen to music and sing along (and even dance a bit.. why not!), catch up on YouTube videos, or invite a friend or family member to lend a helping hand. You want to develop a positive association to meal prepping, so do anything that will help you enjoy the process.
–Make extra: If you’re cooking brown rice for example, cook extra so that you can keep some in the fridge. That way if you decide to cook dinner during the week, you’re cutting down on your time in the kitchen by having that part ready. Or you can stick in the freezer for the following weekend meal prep session so that you save time. Try to always think ahead because it takes less time to do something in bigger quantities than it is doing it twice.
How do you organize your meals for the week? How do you make sure that you eat healthy during the week? Please share your tips with everyone, I love hearing from you and want to improve my meal prep skills. Stay in touch!