There is nothing worse than coming home from a long day after slumming through traffic only to find a near-empty fridge with three-day-old leftover takeout that can hardly be considered a satisfying meal. If you are committed to living healthier but always seem to hit a wall once it comes to the kitchen, you’ll enjoy these tips.
The key to any long-lasting habit (especially around nutrition) is convenience. The reason why fast-food chains are so successful is partly due to the simple science behind added convenience. When you make healthier options more accessible, you can almost always guarantee naturally gravitating towards them. For those who want a jump start to healthier eating, consider the tips we’re providing below as we navigate simple ways you can prepare for success.
We are all a product of meal-prepping in some regard, even if we are not the ones responsible for cooking the meals we eat on a daily basis. Whether it is pre-made school lunches or buffets during your work lunch hour, someone made it possible for you to conveniently grab that food and go about your day. Hopefully, after reading, you will feel willing and able to do the same!
Everyone’s meal prep might look different. First, identify which meals are most important for you to pre-make throughout the week. If you are away from home the majority of the day or know that the upcoming week will be difficult to both cook and pick up the kids from soccer practice, consider adding another meal on the preparation list.
Generally speaking, you can approach meal prepping from two ways:
Option A: Assembled dishes or, Option B: Non-assembled dishes.
Some days require you to be more detailed in preparation, demanding that you have my meals already pre-assembled, so the only work you’ll have to do is re-heating. Here is a sample of what a super simple meal prep would consist of for those busier than busy days:
Sample Meal Prep (Option A):
- Meal 1: Overnight oats
- Snack: Serving of seasonal fresh fruit
- Meal 2: Quinoa Salad bowl
- Snack: Raw/ roasted mixed nuts
- Meal 3: Veggie stir-fry with choice of protein
If stacking your fridge with countless containers of Tupperware is unrealistic or unnecessary for you, consider Option B; wherein your meal-prep consists of cooking simple side dishes and proteins that can be stored in 3-5 containers where they are easily accessible.
Sample Meal Prep (Option B):
- Assortment of steamed, grilled, or sautéed veggies
- Pre-washed and cut raw seasonal fruit/veggies
- Grilled or pan-cooked protein of your choice
- Steamed grains (i.e. brown or wild rice, quinoa)
What you’ll need:
- A meal plan, grocery list
- Tupperware (glass is preferable as food tends to stay fresher longer)
- Mason Jars for easy on the go salad or oatmeal mixtures
Meal prepping may seem like a daunting task, but when you compartmentalize these four main components, the process will leave you less overwhelmed:
What to expect:
- Grocery shopping
- Cleaning and chopping foods
- Cooking food
- Storing food
Tips for beginners:
- Cook your food at the same time (two racks in the oven is perfect for baking veggies and proteins together).
- Plan on making two different lunches and dinners to add variety throughout the week.
- Buy grains and nuts in bulk.
- Don’t buy what you won’t eat for your meal-prep that week to prevent food waste.
- Purchase foods that are in season to ensure quality and that are more economical.
- Store fruit that is bought in excess or is ripe by pre-washing/cutting and leave in the freezer for smoothies (i.e., bananas, berries).
Let’s face it, life can be incredibly demanding and require our full attention at the office, at university, or carving out that important space for some me-time in the mix of it all. This is one habit you can begin to practice that you won’t regret. Similar to working out, meal-prepping requires a level of discipline but once exercised, the physical, mental, and even economic results are substantial.
Give meal-prepping a try for a week even if it is starting small by meal-prepping one meal for every day. Eventually, you can graduate to an additional meal a day or as needed. In no time, you’ll see what a little planning and small steps of execution can help boost your productivity in your week while supporting you in your journey towards healthy living!