Working out that you can prep meals each week so you can get on with living is like the discovery of the light bulb, illuminating and profound.
Do you want to eat healthier, but you’re super-busy and just can’t find the time to research recipes that are healthy?
Perhaps you resort to eating out or takeaways because, well, it’s just easier.
Quick and convenient is higher on the importance scale for you so healthy gets bumped more than you care to admit.
It bothers you that you can’t get into an easy rhythm when it comes to your health and fitness goals.
You want to improve your diet and health and you know you don’t need the extra calories in fast and convenient food anymore.
AND, you DO want to save time and money.
I get it! Not to worry, this health coach has got your back.
You don’t even need to completely abandon your regular meals out. You can use my strategy to help you eat out just one or two fewer times per week. It’s up to you.
As with any lifestyle change, start gradually so you can build consistency. The key here is to make it easy, doable and rewarding enough to do again and again. If you slip up and order out from time to time, go easy on yourself. Give yourself the chance to do it right the rest of the time.
Let me walk you through my simple system to prep meal and how this can work for you.
I prefer to do this on the weekend.
Generally, I have a very small selection of things I make for midweek that I go back to time and again with just slight variations just to keep it a little interesting.
Maybe I will change the meat used or the vegetables I put with it depending on what is in season and is cheap.
I’ll even pick which days to have which meals if I’m feeling overly ambitious, but that’s not necessary if you’re new to this.
I write my chosen recipes down in a notebook or even a sheet of paper to put on my fridge. I like to have at least one crock pot meal or if you are at home, slow-cooked meal, each week because they’re so easy, and dinner is ready and waiting when you get home.
Then I create my grocery list. I take a quick look in my fridge, freezer and pantry, and list the recipe ingredients that I need to buy.
Consider buying a “backup” of things you use most often so that you don’t run out. I’ve had times where the tomato sauce I planned to use was short of what I needed. Having to run out in the middle of meal prep can be very frustrating and defeats the purpose of quick and convenient.
Another thing to consider is doubling the recipe(s), so you can prep and cook once, but have twice the meal at the end. The extras can be taken for lunch, or frozen to pull out the night before a busy day, so you just need to heat it up when you’re ready.
We have a saying in our house when the girls ask what is for dinner the answer at this time of year is often “freezer surprise”.
If you’re doubling a recipe, don’t forget to double what you buy from the grocery store.
Once you have your grocery list ready, you can head to the supermarket and pick up your essentials. If you don’t have enough food storage containers for your meals, now’s the time to pick up some of those too. I find they are cheaper if you get them in those cheap variety stores. Just make sure they are food-safe.
If you’re not a fan of washing and chopping produce, then consider buying them already pre-washed and pre-chopped, or even frozen. You can make your meal prep even easier if you don’t mind spending a couple of extra dollars.
Now it’s time to prep.
Get your recipes ready, clear off your counter, and play some music. I like to catch up on podcasts or have something on the T.V. playing through my headphones.
At this point, depending on time, I’ll either prep the ingredients, or pre-cook the entire recipe. Sometimes just washing and chopping produce and putting it in containers is a huge time-saver for weeknights. Or, you can go through and make a whole meal, and divide it up into portions and refrigerate or freeze.
It’s really up to you. The more you do now, the less you’ll have to do when you’re hungry.
When I am doing anything on the weekend that includes vegetables I always do extra. The extra can go into an egg bake, or get added to cauliflower rice to have with fish or chicken.
The same goes for if I make coleslaw at any time I make twice as much as I need and the rest is used for lunches. Of course, don’t dress it until you need it as it will go watery.
There is one meal that is easiest to plan and prepare in advance. It’s one that’s also often the most difficult to eat at home if you’re busy.
Planning some overnight oatmeal is a great start to any day.
Place ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup your choice of milk, 1 tbsp chia or flax seeds into a container (or make 5 for the whole week). Put the lid on, shake and put them in your fridge. In the morning you can quickly heat them up or even eat them cold (the oats will have absorbed the milk).
If you can’t eat oats just you can just make a chia pudding and do exactly the same. Top with berries, chopped fruit, nuts or seeds and enjoy.
With a little planning, you’ll be able to eat healthier while you save money and calories.
This may take some getting used to, so if I can be of help, please reach out and let me know.