One of the best ways to successfully build healthy eating habits is to learn how to meal prep. In addition to helping you build healthy eating habits, it can save you time and money in the kitchen with a little planning ahead.
I’ve got five tips to help you get started and show you how to meal prep like a pro.
The thought of meal prepping used to make me cringe. Who would want to eat the same thing every day? And how much time do you really need to spend in the kitchen to make it worthwhile?
Years ago, on Sundays, I used to make batch meals that would usually consist of one-pot wonders so that there would always be a “home-cooked meal” ready to each throughout the week.
But when I think back to this time, it makes me cringe. On the menu was often chicken and dumplings (where’s the veggies?!), a spaghetti bake and a lot of other foods that were lacking in all of the nutritious ingredients that help fuel you throughout the day.
My point is, this first attempt at what some might call “meal prepping” was an epic fail in the nutrition department and I began to loathe the thought of spending all day on Sunday in the kitchen making foods for the week.
From comfort food prepper to meal prep pro
Several years later, and I’ve found a new way of meal prepping. It’s not an all or nothing approach, and I find my days packed with nutritious, energizing foods that have already been made ahead of time.
Here are my top five tips for meal prepping like a pro!
Tip #1: Start small.
One of the biggest mistakes I made when beginning to meal prep was thinking I could transform from a newbie to a maven overnight. I quickly became overwhelmed and a lot of food went to waste because my plan wasn’t well thought through and well, we got tired of eating the same thing all the time.
Tip #2: Have a plan.
This is the biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone starting out with meal prepping, or just looking to eat healthier throughout the week. Whether you’re prepping the foods or not, I encourage you to look at the week ahead and plan out what you are going to eat throughout the week. Then, make a list and go grocery shopping. One and done.
If you’re prepping, having a plan doesn’t mean you have to tackle the whole week, every meal, in one day. I like to look at my week and identify those meals I know I’m going to have a hard time making a nutritious choice.
For example, I work late on Monday and Thursday evenings, so I’ll prepare a soup or batch of enchiladas at the beginning of the week for these nights. I also know that if I’ve already prepped a batch of overnight oats or veggie egg muffins, I’m much more likely to eat a breakfast that will be satisfying and fuel me through the morning!
Tip #3: Variety is the key to long term success.
Even though I tend to be a creature of habit, I like to switch up the flavor profiles of my food from time to time so I don’t get bored. So, I don’t know about you, but the thought of five prepared meals of the exact same thing makes me cringe a little bit.
It doesn’t have to be boring. Let’s say you make a big batch of roasted veggies at the beginning of the week. Those veggies could be a side to your favorite chicken dish, a star ingredient in a power bowl, and added to a wrap with hummus and leafy greens! Make it once, use it twice (or three times), my friends.
Tip #4: Pre-portion.
Making a dinner ahead of time? Go ahead and pre-portion it in individual containers so that it’s easy to grab and reheat. Or, if you are a snack lover like me, pre-portion individual servings of nuts in Ziploc bags to grab when the hunger strike hits. Smoothie packs are also great to have on hand for a quick breakfast or snack!
Tip #5: Visualize it.
Print or write out your meal plan to have on hand to refer back to. I often forget this step and then can’t remember what I bought those mushrooms for. If you have a family, having the week’s menu visible can encourage a heightened anticipation for dinner time and eliminate any surprises or complaining.