Meal Prep & Meal Planning to the Rescue
Do not underestimate the power of a meal plan or meal prep. Spending those 10-15 minutes and simply writing down what you want to eat can save you from making some poor last minute decisions. It also help you eat better, support your metabolism and save money in most instances!
Remember to always look ahead by 1-2 days to make sure you have ingredients on hand, and marinating time is accounted for and batch cook things like rice or grains which you can use all week in various dishes.
Meal Prep Benefits:
Saves money and time
eat healthier more balanced meals
helps controls your weight
get more done with less effort
Flag healthy recipes you love and make them again!
Work at your own pace - start with 2-3 recipes and then add more as your get better at preparing meals.
Make sure to portion things out as soon as they are made. Make sure your containers are microwave and freezer safe and are portions for various sizes, my favorite sizes are 1, 2, and 4 cup portions. These should be stackable/nestable, BPA free, and leakproof.
Don't wait until the last minute, plan ahead and leave space in the meal planning schedule for meals away from home.
Don't overprep- many people who plan all 7 days of the week have leftovers they didn't anticipate - start with 3-5 days of prep and adjust as needed.
Love leftovers, this will help save you money.
Double up your dinner and saving the rest for the following day
Roast a tray of your favourite veggies and have them ready to toss into salads or on their own
Pick raw or no-bake snacks such as almonds, fresh fruit and simple home-made protein balls
Cook some soup in the instapot in bulk and freeze in portions
Boil eggs for the week ahead eat throughout the week as a healthy snack or lunch topper
Grill or poach chicken breasts, allow to cool and store in the fridge - this is great for chicken salad, tacos, or as a salad topping when you're tight on time
Buy pre-washed salad mixes
Cook a big pan of quinoa or brown rice ready to eat cold during the week - you can also store this in the freezer and pull out and reheat as needed!
How to Prep:
Choose when to prep, many people do this Sunday for the upcoming week, and some do it again mid week.
Decide which meals to prep (think of finding dishes that use up the foods you already have in the fridge/freezer/pantry).
Go shopping - make sure to check what you have before going, look at quantities, and make a list.
Execution - Prep & cooking space this out whenver you have a spare 5-10 minutes. Marinate meats and chop veggies ahead and simply cook them fresh each night!.
Portion & Pack - once you cook the meals, divide these into storage containers! This is a great way to save time and to monitor your portions!
Have breakfast ready to go or a quick reheat: Protein Muffins, boiled eggs (peeled and kept in fridge in water), yogurt fruit and granola parfaits, egg bakes, overnight oatmeal or oatmeal you simply reheat and add fresh fruit as a topping.
Lunch Ideas: make a bento box with lean protein, cheese, fruit, veggies, and crackers; sandwiches, try whole grain salads instead of pasta salad. Include items they enjoy and sneak in a few healthier options like Chocolate Hummus with Apples.
If kids are at home for lunch, you could always give them a quick reheated leftover from the night before and add some fresh toppings, sides or their favorite snack.
Here are two great meal plans complete with weekly overview, shopping list and recipes.
This easy meal plan costs less than $1.50 per servings and averages only about 12 minutes of daily prep time and boasts less than a 10% produce waste. It's a full 5 days long - which many times with our busy lives is enough to keep you full for most of the week!
The lacto-ovo meal plan is 5 days long and a great option if you are trying to reduce your meat intake! It's not hard to prepare and you can save time by purchasing prediced butternut squash at the store!