Meal Prep to Eat Healthier With Less Effort

I thought that people who meal-prepped were the type of people who had their $hit together. The kind of people who dust their mini blinds every week and throw Pinterest-worthy parties with handmade decorations and snacks. That ain't me. I'm (usually) a frazzled mess who opens a bag of pretzels for parties. Who am I kidding? I don't have time to throw parties!

I used to think that I barely had enough time to eat, let alone meal prep, but I was wrong. Meal prep takes a little more time on the front end but makes my weekly meals so much easier, and saves time and money! Prepping your meals in advance can help you make healthier choices all week long.

 meal prep to eat healthier and save money with less effort. Save to your favorite pinterest board for later.

meal prep to eat healthier and save money with less effort. Save to your favorite pinterest board for later.

5 REASONS TO MEAL PREP

1. Meals prepared at home are almost always healthier, have fewer calories and sodium than restaurant meals. Meal prep puts you in control of what you eat, rather than relying on the whims of a hungry person (that hardly ever goes well).

2. It's less expensive to eat meals prepared at home. If you consider the average cost of a meal for lunch during the workweek is $10 = $50 per week = $200 per month (just for lunch!), you can save a lot of money by preparing meals in advance, rather than going out to eat.

3. It's easier to make healthy choices when food is prepped in advance, you won't be tempted to hit the drive-through, the vending machine, or order takeout when healthy food is already prepped and ready to go.

4. It's less stressful to have meals planned. You don't have to worry every day about what you will eat and if you will make healthy choices.

5. Meal prep saves you time during the week. Yes, batch cooking is a little more work up front, but you get that time back plus more during the week. 

HOW TO MEAL PREP

Ever heard of K.I.S.S? Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. I prefer: Keep. It. Simple. Sweetheart. We are going to prep meal components that can be used in multiple meals all week long. I don't make elaborate meals, instead, I prepare simple whole-food ingredients to use throughout the week. 

COOK PROTEIN

Choose two or three protein sources to cook in advanced. I usually cook two to three pounds of chicken and ground turkey.

Chicken can be grilled, baked, boiled or cooked in a crock pot. Boiled chicken shreds easily for salads and wraps. Refrigerate what you will eat within the week and freeze any leftovers. I often cook meat for two weeks and freeze it; then I only have to prep the protein once every two weeks.

Hard boil eggs for snacks or for salads. Yes, keep the yolks! 

COOK HEALTHY CARBS AND STARCHY VEGETABLES

Healthy whole-food carbohydrates in proper portions help fuel our workouts and lifestyle. Carbs are good for our body. Prepping healthy carbs can help us avoid those processed, unhealthy carbs.

Boil or roast sweet potatoes.

Roast broccoli, and cauliflower.

Prepare brown or white rice (avoid flavored packaged rice), quinoa or tabouleh.

Roast spaghetti squash.

Soak oats or beans overnight.

Make home-made granola

 homemade granola and yogurt jars.

homemade granola and yogurt jars.

PREP/CHOP VEGETABLES

Chop veggies in advance. Wash spinach and vegetables. Chop cucumbers, green, red, and yellow peppers (eat the rainbow). Chop celery, carrots, and mushrooms (not technically a veggie but you get the idea). Wash and chop all your favorite vegetables. Store them in containers to use later or in baggies to eat raw for healthy snacks.

HEALTHY FATS

Put raw, unflavored, unsalted, almonds or pistachios in portion-controlled snack bags for the week to grab and grow. 

Feel free to flavor veggies with real butter in appropriate servings, avoid processed spreads and "fake" butter. 

FRUITS

Chop in-season fruits, like watermelon in the summer. Separate grapes or cherries in portion-controlled snack bags. Keep easy to access fruits like bananas, oranges, and apples on hand for a quick snack or side. 

PUTTING IT TOGETHER: HEALTHY MEAL IDEAS

BREAKFAST

  • Use your chopped veggies and cooked lean meats in omelets for a quick breakfast.
  • Eat hard-boiled eggs.
  • Prepare overnight oats for a healthy and delicious meal on the go.
  • Use spinach and prepared veggies in a protein smoothie.
  • Make healthy breakfast muffins.
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LUNCH

  • Use chopped veggies and meats in salads, wraps, and bowls (think Chipotle-style bowl: rice and beans with meat and veggies).
  • Prepare mason jar salads for lunch to go. These make it easy to prepare grab and go salads that don't go soggy!
 mason jar salads and overnight oats

mason jar salads and overnight oats

DINNER

  • Use chopped veggies and meats in stir-frys, salads, and bowls.
  • Get creative! Use pasta sauce on chicken and spaghetti squash for italian-style, Stir-fry chicken and veggies in low sodium soy sauce for chinese-style, or pair with guacamole and beans in a taco salad for mexican-style.  
  • Make double dinners and use the leftovers for lunch the next day.

WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN MEAL PREPPING

1. Don't prep food you don't like just because it's healthy. If you don't like salmon or broccoli, don't prep it. You're not going to want to eat foods you don't like and it will likely go to waste. 

2. Don't prep junk food, soda, processed carbs, salty snacks, processed deli meats, or sugar-laden treats. Meal prep should help you stay away from these foods.

3. Don't think meal prep is an all-or-nothing activity. Anything you can prepare in advance to make it easier at meal time is meal prep. Start small with breakfast or lunch and then as you get comfortable, add more meals. Anything you can do in advance will make mealtime easier. Start with chopping vegetables or batch cooking meat.

What do you think? Ready to give it a go? Prepare with a shopping list of healthy ingredients, plan your meal ideas for the week, and get prepping! You'll thank yourself during the week when all your healthy meals come together quickly and easily.


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