In this day and age most people I know are running around like crazy. Working full time with 1 or 2 jobs, family commitments, social engagements, workouts, traveling, the list goes on and on. Many people think that eating clean just takes too much time. However, taking some time to plan and prepare your meals can actually make you more efficient during the week and give you more time to spend on other activities in your life.
Though it might seem daunting to spend 1 or 2 hours on a Sunday prepping food, I guarantee it will leave you feeling organized, motivated and often gives you more time during the week to complete all your other tasks as you are not trying to figure out what to pack for lunch or make for dinner. Personally, I feel anxious or a bit stressed when I do not pack or forget my lunch and have to rely on my workplace cafeteria for food. This is from both a financial and clean eating perspective. Though we have some decent options at my workplace, the cost also motivates me to bring my own food.
With any new endeavor, starting small will often lead to greater success. Therefore, I am not asking you to prep 5 meals a day for the next 7 days. Below are a few tips for easy and efficient meal prep to hopefully get you started.
Pick one, two or all of these to focus on in your upcoming week.
- Simply, plan your meals for the week. Sit down on Saturday or Sunday and plan out your entire week. Then make a grocery shopping list so you know exactly what you need and do not have to run to the store for a clove of garlic on Wednesday. I take into consideration what nights I might be getting home late or have activities and plan something simpler those nights (ex. turkey burgers).
- Consider leftovers. When looking at my recipes or meal plan, I know certain recipes will make more than my family will eat in one sitting, great for leftovers the next day. Perfect, I now have 2 or 3 more lunches that I do not have to plan.
- Eggs. I will boil, scramble or make an omelet or frittata for at least 2-3 days of the week. I make one large omelet or frittata and divide it up and keep it Tupperware. Eggs will keep in refrigerator for quite a few days. If you do not like the idea of eating an omelet that was made 3 days ago, boil your eggs as texture is not as important with boiled eggs.
- Salads. Salads are probably the easiest thing to prep that will keep fresh in your refrigerator. Make 4 or 5 salads (do not add protein or dressing). Then night before or morning of when you plan on having this salad, add your protein and bring a small container of dressing.
- Stockpile food at work. Many clients complain about not having access to healthy foods (ex. vending machine only) or they were caught off guard with nothing to eat. Grocery shop for your work. At work, I keep a large bag of nuts, nut butter, bottle of balsamic vinegar, jar of salsa, 1-2 protein bars, all non-perishable items that I know will keep. I then bring my fresh food everyday with me. Then if I get caught in a bind I know I have almonds in my drawer vs. not eating or grabbing something from the vending machine.
- Only prep food once a day. After making dinner and cleaning up, do you really want to take everything out again to make lunch? While my dinner is cooking, I simply pack my food for the next day. This simple task helps me cut my time in the kitchen and feel organized and ready to go for another day of clean eating.
Again, I believe in finding what works for you. If prepping and planning every meal, every week seems daunting, set a goal for yourself to bring lunch 2-3x this week and only eat out 2x. Then after you feel that you mastered that goal or feel that it has become more of a habit, add another day of bringing your lunch.
Soon, planning and preparation will become routine. You will be amazed at how much money you can save and the amount of extra time you can create during your week. And who would not like a little extra time each evening to read, unwind or spend with your family?