Meal Prep is the answer for any frustration pertaining to the many attempts of trying to be healthy but don’t have the time to cook/ prepare healthy meals every day, because let’s face it nobody has time to cut and stir in the kitchen.
To get started, list some of your favorite meals or ask friends, roommates or family members to suggest menu ideas. For more inspiration, check out recipe websites such as loveandlemons or nutrionstripped or try old school style by flipping through cookbooks.
The key for a successful meal prep is to plan several days or a week in advance, choose a day when you have the most free time usually a Sunday and start COOKING! Make sure to include side dishes as well as entrees and some healthy desserts, too. When you have your menu plan filled in, create a shopping list of the ingredients you’ll need.
Some things to consider as you enter the journey of meal prep:
Look for sales, at the grocery. Buy enough of produce to last the week, unfortunately fresh fruits and veggies finish quicker than packaged goods so it will be good to buy them on sale and cook them. Also think seasonal, what fresh produce is available this time of year? Shop your pantry, canned foods are a good starting point for any number of healthy meals.
Remix your menu, keep the menu interesting by planning some meatless meals or switch the carbs and/ veggies for some days. Make sure to Alternate new recipes and old favorites, so your taste buds don’t get bored and revert to bad habits.
Envision the plate. As you plan each meal, keep in mind that vegetables and fruits should cover half your plate, lean protein should cover a quarter, and the rest of your plate should be grains, preferably whole grains.
Like any new habit, menu planning gets easier with practice. Over time, you’ll figure out ways to make the process work for you. In the meantime, here are some tips and tricks from seasoned menu planners (mayoclinic.com):
Theme Days .Don’t start fresh every week, establish theme days. For example, Mondays can be soup nights and Thursdays as chicken nights. Plan to try new recipes on Saturdays and finish leftovers on Sundays.
Recycle your menus. Don’t throw away your menu plan at the end of the week. Instead, hold on to it and reuse it later.
Be flexible. Your menu isn’t set in stone. Feel free to swap things around. Or designate one night as “cook’s choice” and use that night to clear out the refrigerator by making a food medley think tapas for everyone! or any other mix-and-match meals.