Meal Prep Tips + Tricks!

Christmas at the Beach
January 12, 2016
Pumpkin Muffins
January 19, 2016

Meal Prep Tips + Tricks!

Happy Wednesday! As some of you know, I’m on a healthy living mission for this year – I’m revamping my workouts, eating habits, and meals. This includes MEAL PREP.It’s one of the things that I love to hate. I love it because it makes eating healthfully all week super easy. I hate it because it takes a huge chunk of my time on Sundays. I love it because the fridge is beautifully stocked with vegetables, fruits, complete lunches, and snacks. I hate it because I always choose the absolute wrong time to go to the grocery store. Note to self: stop going on Sunday mornings! I love it because it’s a way to try new recipes. I hate it because we’ve found so many good ones that it’s hard to choose but easy to eat the same thing every single day. See my instagram if you don’t believe me!

I 333% believe in the benefits of meal planning. I’ve already noticed a huge difference between this year and last year in just this area of life. I’m all about simplifying and making my days less hurried. Meal prep is something you can do to help yourself – and stay on track! Here are a few things I think about when meal prepping for the week:

1. Make a plan! Yes – you’re thinking “duh!” But really, open your calendar and truly think about what you have on your schedule each day. Work lunches? Dinner out? Drinks? Understanding what you’re starting with from a schedule perspective will make shopping and preparing so much easier. Note: this will also save you money! I used to overbuy produce and waste SO much.

I usually do this on Sunday mornings. I look at the week ahead and count the number of lunches and dinners I’ll need to prepare for. This usually means about 4 lunches and 3-4 dinners (only for workdays) for both Grant and I. I also have a separate notepad that I use for our meals only. I write out each day of the week (M-F) and list each of our meals on it.

2. Do your homework.

For lunch – think about what makes you energized and kicks the mid-afternoon slump. For me, this means a veggie and protein rich meal. Luckily, Grant eats anything, so we have the same thing for lunch. Easy peasy! If you have recipes in mind, make a list. If not, Pinterest will be your BFF. Use this step to brainstorm what sounds good – think about what’s in season and what might be easy to eat at work.

For dinner – Be creative! It doesn’t have to be some fancy shmancy meal every night. Think outside of the box! For us, we like to keep dinners simple and healthy. While we’re both foodies and love to try new things, we don’t do this on weeknights. Time is already limited, so our focus is on a nutritious and easy meal (think breakfast for dinner, soup and salad, quinoa and veggies, etc.). Often times, this allows for prep in advance and minimal cleanup. And the meals are usually pretty quick to prepare!

3. Make a list. Include everything you need for each meal of the week. (I usually forget something and end up running to the store at least one additional time during the week). Some people (hi, mom!) like to go to the store every day. Whatever works for you! I’m sharing my perspective of what works for us and our schedule – it simply doesn’t allow for a daily grocery run.

Then, take inventory of what you currently have in stock. Cross those things off your list. While you’re at it – is there anything you need to use up? Adjust your meals if so.

4. Shop! And actually stick to your list. Try to resist the urge to make impulse, unhealthy purchases. If it’s not at home and available to you, you can’t eat it, can you?! Make it as easy on yourself as possible when you’re at home – and this starts when at the store.

5. Prep. The dreaded preparation. This usually takes about 3-4 hours depending on how many meals I’m putting together. Our typical preparation activities for the week include:

  • Making a big batch of quinoa, putting it into individual bags, and freezing it for grab and go.
  • Chopping and baking all sorts of veggies (think broccoli, sweet potatoes, peppers, brussel sprouts, onions, tomatoes, etc.)
  • Make and bake turkey meatballs. G’s recipe is coming soon! I don’t touch meat so I don’t make these. But I do make lentil loaf. Another recipe coming soon!
  • Salad dressing – make a batch and put it into individual containers.
  • Snacks – chop veggies and fruit to have on hand. The easier it is to grab, the more healthy your decisions will be! Put them in pretty containers so they look even more enticing 🙂
  • Portion nuts, trail mix, or anything else into appropriate serving sizes (usually 1/4c.). You’ll find that 1/4c is much smaller than you might think! Makes it harder to just stick your hand in the bag and grab 3 servings worth!
  • Other – depending on the week. We don’t typically prepare dinner ahead because we choose simple dinner options that don’t take much time.

6. Pack your meals. I just do this for lunches. I pack lunches through Wednesday. Then on Wednesday night, I’ll make another batch of roasted veggies or something small to get through Friday. I don’t like to let veggies sit for an entire week. Extra quinoa, meatballs, and lentil loaf are already in the freezer, so just add those to your fresh veggies and bam! More lunches ready to go. I usually use one container for my meals – these are my favorite. Also note – only eat what you bring! Don’t snack on other people’s food, office snacks, the jar of M&Ms… You packed your food for a reason. Stick to it! (Easier said than done!)

7. Plan in advance. Reference the schedule you made for your week (see #1 above). Put together your meals at night for the next day. I promise your mornings will be less rushed. If your meal is in one container, place it in a lunch bag and add any snacks, sparkling waters, and anything else you might need while away from home to make healthy choices. I like to keep my list on or near the fridge. That way, we can easily reference what we need to pack and don’t forget anything!

8. Repeat! I know this can get old, tiring, boring… It’s just SO MUCH EASIER to go out for lunch. To stop for a quick snack at Starbucks. To grab a pizza on the way home for dinner. BUT you will thank yourself for it! A little planning and prep time can go a LONG way for your ultimate healthy living goals.

What do y’all usually do for meal prep? Next week – I’ll share some of our meal prep recipes and what an actual week looks like for us!

Questions? Anything I missed? Let me know. As you can tell, this is one of my favorite topics!