Easy Meal Prep Tips For Staying Healthy and Sane!
Food is a HUGE part of fitness and the results you get from your workouts and the gym. In my experience as a personal trainer, most people GREATLY underestimate the amount of calories they are eating and overestimate the general health of their food intake. This is called being human! Balancing work, social life and workouts is a daily struggle for most people, and trying to cook dinner every night is darn near impossible. So how are you supposed to eat healthy on limited time? Meal prep is your answer. Easy meal prep tips that don’t require hours of monotonous effort can be hard to find, however.
Meal prep usually brings images of chicken and broccoli in little plastic tupperware containers to mind. if you’re anything like me this seems like a slow death of bland chicken and gas inducing tasteless broccoli and images of men lifting their shirts to peek in the mirror at their abs. GET OUTTA HERE WITH THAT B.S.! Annoying. Life is meant to be enjoyed!
The good news is, there is no need for you to be an anal-retentive, OCD robot with meal prep. I have a loose, easy version of meal prep that I use myself every week, and I will break it down here as simple as possible for you. These easy meal prep tips are sane, doable tips for making your meal planning easier but still interesting each week.
First of all, I’m listing my favorite go-to spots for when I just can’t manage to cook. I know a few spots in my neighborhood that have healthy food options and I can estimate the calorie counts and know I’ll at least be eating healthy ingredients. If you don’t have a Snap Kitchen or a Start Restaurant in your area, take a quick look at the spots that are close to your home (gives you no excuse to stop for junk food when it’s been a long day!), and check out their menus online so you know what the best options are beforehand.
-Snap Kitchen -Start Restaurant -Whole Foods- rotisserie chicken, roasted veggie sides, salad and soup bar are all great, healthy options here. You can look for all of this at your local grocery store too.
My first step in Meal Prep is to pick a few recipes I want to cook. I try for 3 different recipes every week and eat off the leftovers from those too. Here are some tips to find recipes:
-Find blogs you love! A few of my favorites are Skinny Taste and Greatist. Bloglovin is a great place to look for inspiration and food blogs too. Cooking light.com has a huge number of lightened up recipes and is a great place to look if you know a specific meal you want to cook and want to make it healthier.
Next, I grocery shop and do my first round of cooking. As someone who considers herself a decent, experienced cook I do not like the idea of eating off food all week long that was cooked more than 3-4 days ago. I think you’re running a risk there with food spoiling and the taste will be affected. So I do a second, short bit of cooking one evening during the week as well. Here is how I prep and cook:
–I cook a pot of grains, chop and roast some veggies, chop and put together veggie or salad combos (whatever is needed for my meals), and roast or grill some proteins. If I plan on snacking on hard boiled eggs I boil those too. *I only cook enough for the next 3-4 days. -I freeze whatever protein I will not cook immediately.
Next, I look through my schedule and pick a day mid week to repeat this cooking process (although it’s a much smaller cooking session to fill in what is needed around any meals out and scheduling concerns).
Staples that I cook in bulk to throw into dishes all week:
-Quinoa -Brown rice -Whole grain pasta -Thin slice chicken breasts -Skirt steak -Roasted veggies
Other quick cooking proteins that it is better not to cook all at once for taste/texture reasons:
-Frozen shrimp -Tofu
Sauces I Keep in Stock to Use in Dishes:
-Pesto -Salsa -Hummus -Peanut Sauce -Red wine vinaigrette -Lemon juice and olive oil
Ideas for easy, quick meals:
-Cook more than one serving at a time if you can deal with leftovers that way you can just reheat a new serving -Stir-fry -Quinoa or brown rice bowls -Fish in parchment -Stuffed sweet potatoes -Frittata -Turkey meatballs over veggies
The things I always have on my grocery list:
-Avocado -Eggs -Lemons -Almond milk -Bananas -Thin slice chicken breast -Plain oatmeal -Peanut butter -Spinach or kale
-Keep snacks easy! Fruit with peanut butter, almond butter or peanut butter single serve packs, string cheese, almonds, beef jerky, hard boiled eggs –
-Your hardest meal should always be prepped. If you have no issues with eating a healthy breakfast, don’t waste time thinking of new ideas and prepping it. If dinner always ends up being unhealthy take out because you’re too tired to cook, focus on making sure this meal is prepped each week so that you have a dinner that just needs a few minutes heating up when you get home.
-Don’t worry about being perfect! As with anything, start easy with this and do more as you go along. Maybe start by prepping 1-2 super easy meals each week, then add a third a couple weeks later when it feels doable. Build on those small goals, grasshopper.
-Use that slow cooker! Its a massive time saver and dinner is ready when you get home. -Pick recipes with similar ingredients to minimize wasting food.
-Don’t try for anything crazy that will take tons of effort. This defeats the purpose of meal prep. -Breakfast is almost always easy and the same generally for me- fruit and a single serving packet of peanut butter if I’m on the go, or oatmeal with peanut butter and honey if I’m eating at home.
-Season everything any way you want. My favorite combo is garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder.
-Don’t add sauces until you’re actually putting the meals together.
Have any questions or feedback or do you have some easy meal prep tips of your own to share? Leave them below and share this post with a friend!