Why do I meal prep? Because hope is not a strategy for healthy eating.
Meal prepping. Many hate to do it, many don’t know how to do it, and many end up throwing away three containers at the end of the week. I’ve been there, guys. I tried for YEARS to throw together some greens and a piece of grilled chicken and pretend like I wasn’t going to opt for Chipotle when 12:30 came around. For me, realizing what was not only good for me, but sounded like something I would love to eat was the key to changing that outlook. Not only that, but I got into a routine, planned ahead of time, and actually started to get excited for my weekly Sunday meal prep. So here’s my biggest tips for meal prepping effectively:
- Plan BEFORE you grocery shop
The biggest mistake I used to make was thinking about my week AFTER my grocery store trip. I had some kind of guideline; I knew I would pick up some chicken, some veggies, maybe a grain, etc… but when I got home I realized I had no sauces or forgot to get an avocado. Now, I shop completely different, and reduce waste in the process. I choose what meals to make beforehand (via Pinterest, something I’ve made before, my fave food bloggers) and write down the ingredients and amounts I’m going to need. This way, I have no excuse not to actually make the food once I get home.
2. Be smart about perishable items
Has anyone else left a prepped lunch in the fridge because their lettuce looked a little brown? Yeah, me too. This is one of the most frustrating parts about prepping meals. I combat it by keeping the food as separated as possible, and even putting crunchy things like apple slices or salad toppings in separate plastic bags to make them last. I also try to only buy ingredients that I know won’t go bad after 4 or 5 days. If you’re not sure, you can always look up online how long your produce or meat will last once cooked. The good thing is: if your food is fresh it’ll last much longer.
3. Make something that will fill you up
Foodie friends of mine know about my OBSESSION with Kelly Leveque and her “Fab Four” that she says should show up on every plate. Every time I meal prep, I look at the recipe and see if there’s representation of greens, fat, fiber, and protein. This doesn’t just mean making a salad every day, believe me! No matter what I make, I try to add a side of spring mix or spinach for those greens. My favorite fats are some olive oil, pesto, walnuts, or avocado slices. For fiber, vegetables are often my way to go; broccoli is a personal favorite. When it comes to protein, your options are endless and don’t mean just meat options. Baked salmon, grilled turkey or chicken, an egg, or some chickpeas. This combo is sure to curve your hunger and make you full until dinner.
4. If you make it, eat it
It sounds simple, but it happens all the time. When you hear your co-workers talking about burgers for lunch and your mouth is watering, it makes sense why you forget about your meal prepped lunch. So, make a promise to yourself. Don’t let yourself choose going out when you brought a prepped meal. Rather, plan out when you will go out with friends or co-workers. When you know in advance, you can save time and money, and have time to think about which healthy choice you are going to make beforehand. If you make excuses for yourself every now and then, you won’t build strong habits. Just bring your Tupperware to Panera and eat your own meal!
5. Make it exciting
Meal prepping doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself! Give yourself healthy treats and prep enough to fill yourself up. My strategy is to pack a little “dessert” with each meal I prep. A personal fave is a handful of roasted almonds or blueberries and a few small pieces of dark chocolate. Another way to make it more exciting is to pack a seltzer water or kombucha to complete the meal. For the food itself, switch up your recipes and utilize the internet! You’d be amazed at how many fun recipes are out there.
When it comes to meal prepping, practice makes perfect. Try it out for just two or three days a week out first and find out what works best for you. If you need some inspiration, check out my “Prep” Instagram story highlight for ideas @goood_eaats, and be sure to tag me if you try any out!