So many of you tell me that you struggle to find time (and energy!) to put healthy meals on the table for the family or to find quick and easy solutions for dinner time. So I enlisted my friend Jennifer Sherburne of Improve Nutrition to give us some great tips on meal prepping. Read on to get 5 tips to make meal prepping simple – which makes dinners super easy!
Meal Prep. When you hear these two words what does it bring to mind? Do you think it is to time consuming? Something only athletes will do? Something that is hard to learn? If any of these resonate with you, then you are definitely not alone. Many people will shy away from prepping their meals for these reasons and many others. Like any other habit, this one will take time and consistency to master. However, the benefits of meal prepping are worth the effort and can help you save money, save time, helps with portion control, helps you learn new recipes, and helps track what you are eating. This is why I have put together my top 5 meal prep tips that will make meal prepping that much easier.
- Make a list for the week, and keep it simple!
Make a list of the meals you will want to eat for your week ahead. To start, I suggest you try and plan for only a few meals and see how you do. You can always add more meals, and snacks as you start to feel more comfortable. Keep the meals you choose simple. Try thinking about healthy meals you have already made and how you can prep these beforehand. This will help to alleviate any intimidation you may feel of having to find new “meal prep recipes” in a google search. There are TONS out there to try when you are ready. So to begin with, stick with what you know and add new recipes as you go.
- Buy in bulk when you can.
Whenever possible buy your food for meal prep in bulk. Think about using half and freezing the other half for the next time you will be prepping meals. This will save you both time and money. There has been many times where I have not been able to run to the store for groceries and been left with nothing to prep. You will thank me when all you have to do is grab a few things out of the freezer and get to work. Buying in bulk will also allow you to cook in larger batches to be stored in your fridge or freezer.
- Find meals that overlap
As an example, one of my go to meals is roasted chicken. Now most nights, we cannot eat an entire chicken between the 4 of us, so there is almost always chicken left over for the next day. I will plan to use this in fajitas, a chicken caesar salad or something else simple and fast. Try cooking a large pot of rice or potatoes that you can have a few times during the week. You can also have lots of pre chopped veggies ready for salads and snacks. And finally, if you don’t want to eat the same seasoned chicken all week, try preparing two or three variations of chicken at once, using aluminum foil dividers in your pan to separate the chicken and season each differently. There are so many options here that will cut your prep time down significantly.
- Cut and Store
Whenever possible pre-cut, portion out, even weigh the foods you can. This may mean pre-cutting your veggies and fruit for the entire week, or making a salad “base” you can draw from and add too during your week. Prep what you can, so you don’t have to think about it later. Also, make sure you have storage containers that work and can accommodate the different foods you are prepping. This may mean buying a few glass containers that will handle the freezer a bit better, or a variety of sizes for snacks, portions, and bulk foods such as rice or potatoes. Invest in some good containers.
- Schedule some time
Schedule some time to shop and meal prep. I would suggest you don’t do both on the same day. Instead schedule a day to shop and a day that you are able to prep. You should be able to prep everything you need for the week in a few hours, saving you that time during the week. Put on some music, your favorite show, or (if possible) enjoy some silence and have some fun.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions! I would love to hear how you are doing!
Until next time,
Jennifer is the creator of Improve Nutrition, where she teaches women how to find and maintain a nutritional balance in their lives that is sustainable and supports them in reaching their health goals.
She has just released a FREE Mom’s Guide for Eating Well on the Go, which has some great tips on how to eat healthy and feel good even when you are constantly on the move. You can snap a copy HERE.
You can find her at http://www.jennifersherburne.com