Office pastries….vending machines….fast food runs…going to bed without eating….saying “Screw it! I’ll just start over tomorrow.” If any of that sounds familiar, then you could definitely benefit from Meal Prepping. Meal prepping has saved me numerous times from making unhealthy food choices. Meal prepping means I have a plan in place to keep me focused so that I’m less likely to fall into temptation
This post is a follow-up to my previous post where I shared my top tips on how to make smart food choices when you’re grocery shopping and the benefits of meal prepping. So click here to check it out!
I’m hoping with my other post and with this post, that the information helps you create a foundation or base for you to start with that you can customize to your liking and build a consistent process that supports your goals! Because I want to see you WIN!! Now let’s get into it!
The Benefits of Meal Prepping
- Saves Money – meal prepping means less eating out because you already have a healthy meal ready for you. When you’re grocery shopping, you have your list created so you buy only what you need to prep your meals
- Saves Time –when I get home after a long day, all I have to do is heat up my food and enjoy! It takes the effort and guess work out of “What am I going to eat?”
- Keeps you Accountable – meal prepping means I know what I’m eating ahead of time for all my meals and snacks. I prepared my food so I know what’s in it and how many calories I am consuming
- Improves your Cooking Skills – with meal prepping my cooking skills have improved, because I am cooking something new and different every week. I actually enjoy trying new foods and discovering new seasonings to liven things up
It takes me about 30-40 minutes to plan out my meals for the following week and then create my grocery list. Actual meal prep time varies depending on what I’m making. But on average, it takes me 2.5 hours and that includes washing dishes, sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor
I use Thursdays as my plan day. I start by selecting my dinner option since that’s the meal that takes me the longest to decide on. I have a folder that has all my recipe print outs. Then I use a meal planner chart that has a space for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Next I check my pantry and fridge to see what I already have. My grocery list is based on what I need. I go grocery shopping either Friday evening or Saturday morning. On Sunday afternoon, I actually cook the food, which also includes chopping up fruits and veggies and portioning out snacks
So look at your schedule and determine when you will make the time weekly to plan, shop and prep. Then create a calendar reminder in your phone for each of those activities to remind you and so you view these tasks as priorities
I prep for Monday through Friday. I usually eat, on average, 1,500-1,500 calories per day to maintain my 60 pound weight loss. To calculate your specific, daily calorie needs, then you can use an app such as Calorie King or MyFitnessPal. I use My FitnessPal and my username is Newrae22. Let’s be friends so we can encourage one another!
The Structure of My Meals
I use a consistent format and then make modifications each week
Breakfast – Usually scrambled eggs with veggies and complex carbohydrate (oats, gluten free cinnamon raisin bread, corn tortillas for breakfast burrito’s/taco’s, baked sweet potato). If I eat meat, it’s usually turkey bacon, turkey sausage or diced ham. Pre-chop all veggies and place in freezer bags to easily prepare in the mornings
Lunch – I love green smoothies! So I have them weekly for lunch and just switch out the fruit combinations. 1 handful of green, leafy veggies (spinach, collards or Kale), 1 frozen banana for sweetness and creaminess, ½ serving of vegan vanilla protein shake, 2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, then two servings of other fruits. Strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries, even those cute little kiwis! But no fruit is off limits! Include any ones you like! The fruits makes the smoothie sweet enough without the need for added sugar or fruit juice. My smoothie makes approximately 18 ounces and it’s usually around 300 calories. Portion out fruits and veggies and place in freezer bags. Blend them up the night before work. I don’t recommend making your smoothies in advance for all five days. I tried preparing for just two days and found the smoothie for the second day tasted a little watered down
Snacks – I love that salty/sweet combination! Salty – popcorn (Skinny Pop, Smart Foods, or Boom Chika Pop), Veggie Straws, Pirates Booty Puffs, Rice Cakes with nut/seed butter, veggies and hummus, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Van’s Gluten Free Cheddar Cheese Crackers, String Cheese or hard boiled eggs. For the sweet snack, I pick a fresh, seasonal fruit. Selection is based on what’s in season for the best price and quality. I don’t care for canned fruit since they almost always contain added sugar/syrup
Dinner – As I mentioned earlier, I have recipes already printed out and in a folder. I get ideas from Pinterest and food bloggers who post recipes on Facebook or Instagram. My main dish is a lean protein, such as chicken (all cuts – boneless and skinless), salmon (canned or frozen), ground turkey, ground chicken, thin cut boneless pork loins, or shrimp. I always have a green veggie as one side dish option (salad, green beans, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, or asparagus). My second side is a complex carb (brown rice, quinoa, sweet or regular potatoes, squash, roasted carrots or parsnips).
Other easy to prepare alternatives include overnight oats for breakfast and mason jar salads for lunch. Crockpot, sheet pan, or Instapot meals are always fabulous, easy dinner options!
For the weekends, I don’t meal prep, but I do write out what I plan to eat. If I am going to an event, I include that on my weekly planner. I always have food on hand to create a healthy, easy weekend meal –fruits and veggies, brown rice or potatoes, corn tortillas, oats, frozen meat, eggs, whole grain bread (Franz, Ezekiel, Dave’s Killer Bread), condiments (low sugar options), brown rice flour, and gluten free pancake/waffle mix (Birch Benders brand), protein powder, cheese, and snack bars/protein bars with less than 10 grams of sugar
Quick pro tips! Listen to music or a podcast while meal prepping to make it more enjoyable! Also tape any recipes to your cabinets so you can easily see what you need to do while cooking!
Here’s a list of what I have to help me cook and store my food
Freezer bags, plastic food storage containers (Ikea, Groupon or Amazon), plastic portion packs for snacks, cutting boards (wooden and glass for raw meat), sharp knife (be careful!), Ninja blender for smoothies (purchased at Macy’s for $99), food processor, crock pot, loaf pans, muffin pans, non-stick cooking spray, coconut or olive oil, tongs, various size mixing bowls (I found a 4 piece set at Ross), plastic wrap, aluminum foil, sheet pans, oven mitts, measuring cups, measuring spoons, digital food scale, and a can opener
I really hope this post gives you some inspiration to begin meal prepping if you aren’t already. Don’t get overwhelmed by it. Even if you just start prepping for 2-3 days at a time that is a good start. Everyone meal preps differently, so the key is to do what works for you and be consistent. You will learn what works and doesn’t work for you along the way
Are you a meal prepper? If so, how has it helped you? If not, what makes it challenging for you?
Make sure you’re following me on Instagram @mypassion2purpose! I add my weekly meal prep to my stories and then add them to my highlights just in case you don’t catch my stories before they expire!