Meal Prepping and Planning
Trying to eat healthy seems overwhelming already then add daily stresses of work, trying to squeeze in a workout, having a family, and trying to have a life makes it feel impossible. Let’s face it, many of us having busy schedules, busy lifestyles, weeknight cooking constraints, or plain hunger getting the best of us wanting something now.
In comes meal planning and prepping. Scheduling or putting aside a block of time on the weekend to plan and prep for the week will save your sanity, save you money, save you from making bad choices, help with weight loss or muscle gain, and nourish your body with a healthy balanced meal. Meal prepping also helps you to eat more of a Whole Foods nutritious diet and less processed. You are also able to control what is in your food without the hidden or additional fats, sugars, and processed ingredients in a lot of out to eat meals.
How do you start meal planning and prepping for the week?
Plan and schedule. Decide what you would like to have for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks. This can come through looking at Pinterest, searching online, or from your favorite cookbook. Make sure the meals are balanced and healthy. Then schedule some time that works for you on a weekend to prep and cook for the week, making sure you have plenty of leftovers to carry throughout the week. You might even have a little extra to throw in the freezer as a bonus.
Cooking & Prep Time! In the beginning, try to not make it complicated. Keep it simple.
You can do batch cooking, make-ahead full meals, or prepare individual containers of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for grab and go for each day. You can also incorporate both, which I do to help switch things up and make life easier. I usually have breakfast prepared in individual containers, snacks, and some lunches when I am out and about but I also have Batch cooking done for dinners, optional lunch/snack days on switching things up. You will find out quickly by experimenting which options work best for you and your lifestyle.
Breakfast Meal Prep Ideas
Smoothies-Smoothies-Having cut up fruit, pints of berries, and frozen fruit makes it easy to throw in a blender to make the next day. Usually, a good base of a smoothie is nondairy or regular milk or yogurt, frozen fruit…banana is always my must-have ingredient for potassium and then I will throw another fruit of choice. Fruit is great for fiber, antioxidants, and much more nutritional factors. Then throw in a handful of Veggies like spinach or kale or cucumbers or carrots or beets. Believe it or not, the fruit overtakes the veggie taste if you are trying to incorporate more veggies but not a fan.
Here is an example recipe for one of my go too smoothies.
Pear-Delicious Green Smoothie
|1 1/2 cups Unsweetened Almond Milk|
1 Banana (Frozen)
1 cup Baby Spinach
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tbsp Hemp Seeds or Flax Seeds (great for Omega-3s)
1 Scoop of Vanilla Protein Powder (I use Vega One)
Serving Size -1
Overnight Oats or Cooked Oats-Overnight oats are an easy lazy way to prepare your Breakfast for the week. Throw in 1/2 cup of dry rolled oats & 1 cup of nondairy or regular milk. Then you can stir in yogurt if desired (use less milk), optional protein powder, fresh or frozen fruit, hemp/chia/flax seeds, and even nut butter. If you need a little sweetness you a drizzle maple syrup or chop dates in.
Chia Seed Pudding-Chia pudding is a great quick and easy breakfast to prepare the night before. This Breakfast is chock full of protein, Omega-3s, Fiber, and Antioxidants. If you are looking for a lower carb Breakfast, this a good choice as well. The best starter on making this healthy Breakfast is to add 1/2 cup of nondairy milk, 2 tbs of Chia seeds, 1tsp Vanilla, & a handful fruit of choice. You can also drizzle maple syrup or honey, even diced dates in for added sweetness.
Lunch & Dinner Meal Prep Ideas
Lunch and Dinner are generally easy as you can do batch cooking to have items to throw together and reheat or you can pre-make soup, stews, or meals ahead of time, or both. You can throw different combinations and options in individual containers for your meals on the go this was as well.
Batch Cooking-Cooking sides in batches make life easier and is a lifesaver. You can easily throw sides together with a meal or protein of choice, make a bowl, throw together in a salad, or wrap. The possibilities are limitless and will be so helpful when you get home tired and starved.
- Oats or Steel Cut Oats (Pre-cook and place in individual containers to have different toppings on each to switch it up)
- Rice or Quinoa (Great to have on hand to throw in as a side, in a wrap/burrito, salad, or in soup/stews)
- Vegetables-Roast, steam, or sauté vegetables (Great to have these prepared ahead of time to throw in as a side or pretty much anything)
- Beans (Having these on hand is a great additional source of Protein and Fiber to have as a side and incorporated in meals)
- Roasted diced or Baked Sweet Potatoes (Sweet potatoes are very filling, nutritious, high in Fiber, Antioxidants, and are a great choice for any time of the day.)
- Fruits-Cut up Raw or Cooked (having fruits cut or prepared are great for snacks, desserts, or to throw in meals)
If you are a meat eater-Batch cooking roasted, baked, grilled, or crockpot-instant pot meats are great to have on hand for lunch/dinners and to throw in anything. If you are not in the mood of cooking, you can always buy a rotisserie chicken to make life easier.
If you want to cut time on cooking or standing over the stove having an instant pot or crockpot will help you be able to multitask and make life easier when meal prepping. Also on lazy days, it is good to have frozen fruits, frozen veggies, frozen or bagged cook rice, or canned items to throw in meals instead of batch cooking.
My usual go to’s for lunch would be a huge salad with beans, veggies roasted or raw, diced roasted sweet potatoes at times or quinoa, and side of high-quality balsamic vinegar to drizzle over. I even throw in everything seasoning by Trader Joe’s or Savory Spice Shop or maybe sprinkle some Hemp Hearts Chipotle or Rosemary garlic hemp seeds. I am also a fan of soups or stews so those are usually my go-to for lunch or dinners as well but I will throw in extra veggies, beans, and quinoa if I am wanting it heartier along with a side salad. Dinner usually would be a bowl of a lot of Batch cooking, an entree I prepared during meal prepping or a large bowl of soup/stew.
- Fresh cut of veggies from meal prepping with hummus
- Fresh raspberries with a little high-quality dark chocolate inside
- Fresh fruit and nuts
- Larabar (love they are only 3-5 ingredients)
- Homemade energy bites or bars
- Cooked edamame
- Portion sized Skinny Pop or popcorn
- Mary Gone Crazy Crackers, Nut Thins, or Pretzel Thins (even homemade crackers) with nondairy cheese or if you eat dairy-laughing cow cheese
- Apples or banana slices with peanut butter or nut butter of choice
Containers & Storage
Having a good supply of containers helps with meal prepping and organizing your refrigerator and organizing your life. You can choose a different variety of sizes of containers, stackable ones, bento boxes, or divided boxes. Glassware is the best as you can easily see the food, they are sturdier, last longer, and you don’t have to worry about chemicals leaching into food. If you don’t want to buy any containers and have plastic ones, that is fine just make sure not to microwave or heat up in the containers.
Enjoy the work you put in from the weekend. I understand Meal prepping and planning seems overwhelming, but take it one day at a time. You can always start with meal prepping Breakfast first or snacks, then work on more the next time. I promise you, it will become easier and help you reach your goals along with bringing more healthy eating and less stressed living. Hopefully, this blog has helped to give all you need to slowly get started with meal planning and prepping so you can make life a little easier.
If you have some of your favorite meal prepping or planning tips, please do not hesitate to comment to share.
Also, if you would like to have these helpful tips emailed to you in a pdf booklet or if you would like to sign up for a weekly or monthly meal plan program-please do not hesitate to email me TODAY!