Meal Prep Guide
Have you tried meal prepping? Before I tried, I envisioned a bulky male in a cut-off tank dumping portions of rice, plain chicken, and broccoli into plastic bins. Before I was nearly forced to change my mindset on eating healthy, I viewed meal prepping as limiting, time-consuming, and unenjoyable.
Through the kitchen (and very carefully cutting out the social media voices of weight loss company reps and coaches), I learned to love cooking "living foods" from the Earth. It has taken me years to define what "balance" means to me and how I can achieve it. I began my health journey by eating portioned meals made in a lab to thriving on living foods (which is what I believe God intended for us to eat).
The world makes this whole "healthy eating" thing seem unobtainable. Once we are convinced it is "hard" to prepare natural foods, it is easy to sell us packaged foods. But here I am, a nothing-fancy, Midwest-gal who grew up on ravioli and pizza rolls, proving it is possible. In the world of crockpots and instant pots, healthy eating is possible and ENJOYABLE.
In my world, all things are possible through MEAL PREPPING.
Here are a few meal prepping tips that have made a difference to me:
- I carve out 2-3 hours every Sunday to be jacked up on coffee, jamming out to Pandora radio (or binge watching Netflix) while I cook. It is "my time" and anyone who dares to walk into the kitchen during this time must be willing to pull up their sleeves and help.
- I meal prep things I actually like!! I have a few "old faithfuls" that I know I love. I do not bother meal prepping new recipes.
- I prep and store the ingredients separately - that way if I am craving the taco meat from my taco bowl recipe and the sweet potatoes from my paleo bowl, I can create new meals accordingly. If you store every meal pre-made, you're stuck with how you prepared it on Sunday.
- When I pack a meal for work, I store cold and hot elements separately. Perfect example: taco salad. In a large container, I add my lettuce, salsa, greek yogurt, and guac. In a small microwave container, I add my meat and black beans. At work, I heat my meat/beans container and add it to my salad... no warm, soggy salad for this gal.
- I pick four meal ideas for the week and prep those. Above what is needed for those 4 meals, I prep extra ingredients that I know I love, such as lemon broccoli, roasted sweet potato, and shredded chicken.
- Always meal prep snacks!! Kyle and I are weakest when we are just needing something "little." These are the times we convince ourselves that pie is a good idea. Now I meal prep snacks to fill in the gaps - when we are hungry but don't actually need pie ;) My go-to is homemade guac with extra veggies to keep it light and even more nutritious. I use a food processor for this.
- Buy rotisserie chicken instead of baking chicken yourself. Thanks Chels for this tip!
- Choose 4 meal recipes that I love and know reheat well.
- Choose at least one packable meal for work lunches (chicken salads, soups, and wraps are my go-to's)
- Choose 1-2 snacks to prep for the week. (think guac or homemade trail mix)
- Create my grocery list from my meal recipes and snack ideas.
- Add any extra ingredients that I like to prep + have on hand (roasted sweet potatoes, cut fruit + veggies, dips and sauces, extra meat).
- Order groceries (or shop for them) before Sunday.
- Prep Sunday afternoon. Start with preheating the oven (everything I cook is on 425).
- Cut up ingredients while oven preheats.
- Add baked ingredients onto large baking sheets, add oils and seasonings. Put in oven with a timer.
- Prepare fresh ingredients while you roast ingredients (ex. guac, shredding chicken, making chicken salad, making trail mix, setting out frozen fruit to thaw).
- Package ingredients separately and store neatly in fridge, within sight - use glass as much as possible!!
- Ask someone to help with dishes (remind them that you made them food) while I wipe down the kitchen.
- Relax! And don't worry about cooking all week ;)