Does meal prep sound like an overwhelming task that will take up all of your precious time on the weekend? It doesn’t have to be that way. It can be simplified so you can make healthy eating flexible and fun!
I want to break down the fundamentals for you—the what, the why, and the how—so you can have a simple, sustainable way to create delicious meals all week long. Meal prep is your secret weapon to eating healthy, whole food without the stress or spending too much time.
What exactly is meal prep, anyway? Meal prep is planning and preparing meals ahead of time, shopping once, and typically batch cooking. My philosophy is to focus on prepping individual ingredients instead of spending a whole day cooking entire recipes, to make it flexible for real life. Preparing ingredients rather than entire recipes gives you the option to adapt meals quickly and easily based on how you feel each day, no matter how busy your schedule is.
Having a solid meal prep schedule has so many more benefits than simply being a way to make healthier food choices. Number one, it takes the stress out of that age-old question “What’s for dinner?” A little planning and prep work ahead of time means you have one less thing to think about during your busy week.
Weekly meal prep will also save you money as you won’t have to rely on eating out for lunch every day, or have takeout for dinner when you’re feeling too tired to cook, because you know you have healthy ingredients in your fridge ready to go anytime. And by investing a bit of time prepping on the weekend, you get back that time and more by not having to prep and clean for every meal.
To get into the habit of regular meal prep you need a few things to fall into place. I always recommend starting your planning early in the weekend or even the Friday before. That way you have time to shop and prep ingredients whenever it works for you over the weekend. You want to create something that’s easy and will work with your schedule, not add another thing to your plate.
Good planning means less time in the kitchen—and we all want more time, right? If you take the time to look at everything you want to make, you’ll start to see what you can batch together, what you can do while something else is in the oven, and where you can clean as you go. Great things to start with are roasted veggies, sliced fruit, cooking grains like rice, quinoa, oatmeal, or chia pudding for breakfasts, sauces or dressings, and roasted chicken, fish, or hardboiled eggs for your protein. You can use any of the ingredients to create a quick grain bowl, salad, or reheat in a stir-fry, soup, or on pizza. If you’re brand new to meal prep I suggest you start small. Prep one thing you’re comfortable with and build from there.
It might take a little bit of practice but the more you do it, the more confident you’ll get. Before you know it, it’ll be a new, healthy habit you’ll love.
Krista Ettles is a wellness expert, healthy living cheerleader, and all around kitchen ninja. Her company, Nourished and Whole, is on a mission to educate and inspire others to make happy, healthy living simple and fun!
Article was published in The Good Life magazine.