Why is meal prep so important? Having meals already prepared and on hand can make sticking to your goals so much easier! By staying ahead of the game, when life throws something unexpected at you (and it always does), you already have healthy meals ready for when it is time to eat. When you get home from work and you are starving and will eat anything in sight, you will have a healthy meal ready and waiting for you so you have no choice but to stick to your goals! If you are traveling for work often or have a busy schedule, rather than resorting to fast food each day, you will already have your healthy lunch prepared! Here are some ways to make your meal prep routine a success:
Keep it simple!
There are so many recipes available online for meal prepping elaborate dishes. That seems like a good idea and can make for some exciting lunches and dinners that week, but in reality it will take so long to prepare, cook, and organize them all that you will never do it again! Instead, keep it simple by picking two or three of your favorite food items that can be made in a big quantity and divvy it up as needed throughout the week. Add variety by using different spices on each half of a dish or having a variety of condiment options to top your meals with (just be mindful of the nutrition label).
Find a routine that is manageable and sustainable!
This also falls under keeping it simple, if your meal prep routine is overwhelming, time consuming, and complicated, it will never seem manageable or sustainable! Everyone is different and has a different routine already established within their week, so find what works best for you to keep healthy, prepared meals on hand to help you stick to your goals! Most often, prepping on a Sunday works best to have meals prepared for Monday-Friday, but you can also prepare foods each morning while you are already making breakfast if you have the time, prepare a few dishes on Sunday and a few on another night of the week (like Wednesday or Thursday) to keep the cooking load a little lighter (and make sure you have enough food to get you through the entire week).
Choose easy to make options!
Don’t be tempted by the cute, Pinterest “stack your meals in a jar” or chicken stuffed with x wrapped in y and baked on top of a bed of x, y, z. If you have the time, space, skill set, and ability to whip up something like that quickly and easily, then go for it!…but most likely that isn’t realistic. Try to contain your meal prep to as few pots and pans as possible. Put a variety of vegetables on a pan, add a little olive oil and spices, and roast in the oven, add diced sweet potatoes and other veggies to one pan and saute them all together, or bake chicken on one half of a pan and vegetables or sweet potato slices on the other half. Make it easiest for you so you can look forward to preparing your meals for the week rather than dread having to clean up your mess afterwards! (Or keep this in mind when you get to meal prep!)
Make foods that are easily mixed and matched!
To keep some variety in your day to day meals, making options that can be mixed and matched will make your meals less redundant which will help to keep you on track and excited about your meals!
Make 2 protein options, 2 complex-carb options, and 2+ vegetables!
If you are meal prepping for the entire week, you will want some variety between lunches and dinners. By making 2 different protein options you can alternate each one or have a choice for which you are in the mood for. Having 2 complex-carb options (like sweet potatoes, rices, whole grains, beans and lentils) you can pair them with each protein option to mix and match easily! By having 2+ types of vegetables made, you will be able to keep the variety between meals as well as ensure you are getting a broad range of vitamins and minerals since different vegetables provide different nutrients!
Want some simple recipes to make?
Perfect Breakfasts & Recipe: Breakfast Meatballs/TurkeyVeggie Burgers
Eating the Rainbow & Recipe: Cauliflower Fried Rice
Recipe: The ‘Macrofriendliest’ Bagels
Recipe: “Caulifloweroni” & Cheese Stuffed Peppers
Recipe: Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, Spicy Mexican
Summer Impasta Salad with Italian Chicken
Recipe: Mozzarella Stuffed Sun-dried Tomato, Basil Turkey Burger