You hear all over that people are meal prepping to make sure they’ve always got access to quick and easy healthy meals. You’ve probably thought, Wow, what a great idea! But right after, you’ve probably also thought, Yeah, but I don’t have time for that…who actually has time to meal prep? Who can actually do that?
Let’s face it – we’re all busy. And with being busy comes a lot less time to devote to things like what we eat. And it doesn’t help that eating healthy food is a bit more involved than just grabbing a bag of potato chips from the pantry – it requires you to prepare and cook things, since you’re using whole ingredients rather than relying on processed and packaged goods.
So how the heck do you make meal prepping work for you? It sure seems like a lot of work, doesn’t it? In all actuality, you’ll save time by prepping for the week rather than cooking a new meal every night, you’ll ensure you’re eating healthily, and you’ll set yourself up for success!
Let’s take a look at how you can make meal prepping happen:
1. Choose a day
You need to pick a day that will be known, from this point forward, as the day of meal prep! This is the day you spend preparing all your meals for the week, so choose what works best for your schedule. For most people, the perfect day for this is Sunday. So devote a chunk of your Sunday to meal prepping and make it consistent – it’ll become just a regular addition to your schedule.
2. Start slow
Don’t overwhelm yourself and try to prep for 7 full days on your very first Sunday. You’re likely to feel overwhelmed and give up before you finish! Instead, try prepping for 3 days when you start out. You’ll get the hang of portion sizes, timing, and just how the process works for your specific needs.
3. Come up with the meals you want
Plan out and actually write down the meals you’re going to be making. You should have a clear idea of what breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you’ll be creating. Make sure each meal consists of appropriate levels – based on your training and personal needs – of proteins, healthy fats, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
4. Get to the store
Now that you have your plan all set, you’ll need to head to the store and find what you need. Steer clear of junk food – if it’s not in the house, you’re not going to eat it. Make sure you have your list of meals, amounts of each food you’ll need, and pay attention to utilizing items that spoil sooner in the week for your meals.
5. Use proper containers
This is an often overlooked facet of meal prepping, but it’s a big deal. First of all, ideal containers are transparent so you can see what you have to choose from. And you’ll want containers that have dividers – you won’t want your meals to be all mixed together in one big Tupperware bowl. Also make sure these containers are air tight to keep up the freshness, BPA-free, freezer safe, dishwasher safe, and microwavable. And another little tip – keep the containers the same size so they’ll stack easily in your fridge.
6. Focus on simple but nutritious meals
Go for simple meals that you can cook easily in bulk – things like chicken (can be cooked endless ways and stored easily), white fish, beans, vegetables, fruits, brown rice, and quinoa are ideal. You can come up with hundreds of different meals based off of those few staple ingredients alone.
You can cook many things at one time. While you’re steaming broccoli, have a pot of eggs getting hard-boiled, throw your protein on the grill and/or oven, and cut up fresh fruit in the meantime. Use aluminum foil as dividers on large trays to separate what you’re cooking, season things in bulk, and have your prepping containers ready to be filled.