When you think about meal prepping does it seem like some daunting, time consuming task that you HAVE to do? It definitely used to be that way for me. I felt like I needed to prep something different for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day. That, as you can imagine, led to a lot of money wasted on ingredients and a lot of extra food that sometimes went to waste. I now have a pretty tight budget when it comes to groceries because it can be so easy to go overboard. Developing a simple meal prep routine has really helped me stay on budget each month, eat healthy, and save time during the work week.
Here are my top tips for keeping meal prep simple:
- Make a plan for the entire week. Figure out your schedule with work, workouts, and extra curriculars and see where you can most benefit from meals that are already prepped. Hitting up the 6:40 PM class consistently? Definitely meal prep your dinners, so that by the time you get home all you need to do is reheat your food.
- Batch cook! Prep things like protein and starches in bulk. Add a bunch of chicken to a sheet pan or crock pot and cook enough servings for the entire week. Same with your starches– sweet potatoes, rice, spaghetti squash, etc. These generally take longer to cook and reheat fairly well, so make them ahead of the week to save time.
- Use convenience appliances like a crock pot or instant pot. During your weekend prep you can create entire meals to store in the freezer, then during the week add the meal to your crock pot and let it cook all day. Easy for family dinner nights! Pinterest has A TON of freezer meal ideas.
- Plan for meals that you know you will be eating out. Make meals out special! Spend your time and money wisely and choose places that serve quality food. Rather than grabbing fast food on your lunch break or on your way home from the gym (gasp).
- Choose a method that work for you. Do enjoy cooking dinner for yourself or your family each night? Great! When you do your weekend prepping make a plan for the week ahead and get all the ingredients you need. You can prepare ingredients like washing and chopping vegetables and thawing out protein. Everything will be ready to go each night when you make dinner. Do you know for a fact that you will not cook during the week? Then follow step 1!
I hope this helps! Establishing a healthy meal prep, or nutrition in general for that matter, routine takes some trial and error. You cannot know what will work best for you until you try out different things. You can only benefit from being organized!
Anna Fink is a Nutrition and Flux Coach at CrossFit Icehouse. She is passionate about helping others reach their optimal health through nutritional and lifestyle changes.