It will help you stay away from the drive-thru. It will give you an out when you really want a big bowl of ice cream. Meal prepping can even keep you from buying the huge popcorn at the movies.
Meal prepping has been a life saver for me. It is hands down my best asset to eating better consistently. I’m convinced it should be one of the first things you learn how to do before you take the plunge and cut out processed foods and sugary treats all together.
Regardless if you work full time, are a busy parent with a house full of children, or are struggling to stay ahead in college, meal prep is simple and will make your life so much easier.
Here are a few tips that will keep your head above water.
- Set aside just 2-3 hours one morning or afternoon for meal prep. Don’t turn this into a 6 hour endeavor that will make you hate healthy food.
- Get your family involved. Even a 3 year old can wash veggies or tear lettuce. My 7 year old enjoys making a recipe from start to finish all by himself so I usually give him the granola bars while my husband and I cook whatever goes on the stove top.
- Plan ahead. I write down 5-6 things I’m making or cutting and give everyone a job or two. I also make sure I have enough storage containers to store what I’m about to make. If you want to get really detailed (I’m totally this person) then use a label maker to date the items as well. That way you don’t accidentally reach for the grilled chicken that’s now expired, thinking it was the new one.
- Make it fun. We have a speaker in our kitchen and love playing fun music while we cook. I also collect aprons (it’s true) and we enjoy putting on aprons when we cook. I even have one that fits my one year old 😄
- Be conscious of what your family likes to eat. If veggies and hummus are not what everyone is used to snacking on, try having apples and almond butter ready when the kids get hungry. There are so many options when eating healthy. Start in your comfort zone and branch out from there.
Here is a sample meal prep menu for my family.
- hard boiled eggs
- grilled chicken
- granola bars
- fruit gummies
- pre-cut veggies (carrots, onions, zucchini, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes)
- BBQ sauce (my husband puts it on everything)
- brown rice
- almond butter divided into small containers like these
Each week varies slightly. Sometimes I’m making protein bars instead of granola bars. Occasionally I’ll make homemade crackers or prep some overnight oatmeal for breakfasts. One time we made a huge scrambled egg/veggie/bacon dish and separated it out into small containers for quick protein packed mornings.
I also keep fruit on hand as quick snacks. When I’m really in the zone I even put those into smaller containers, like grapes and berries. Meal prepping has made packing lunches for my kids so much easier.
Last week we went to see Zootopia and I brought apple slices and rice cakes to snack on. I find that as long as I have something to eat, I’m not so tempted by the buttery smell of popcorn or anything else sold at the theaters.
Whatever you do, don’t turn this into a stressful activity. Remember, you’re eating differently to feel better, not worse!