Life can be hectic between work, exercise, and spending time with family and friends. It can be hard to make healthy eating choices when we’re in a time crunch, often there are limited healthy options and those options can be very expensive.
Meal prepping is a great way to ensure you have access to healthy, affordable meals all week! I’ve rounded up my top 10 tips for successful meal prepping and you can see a full example of my June 2017 meal prep here.
Tupperware, tupperware, tupperware
I cannot stress this enough – having enough containers to hold your meals will make meal prep easier. You don’t want to stress about only having enough containers for 2 days and then having to meal prep again a few days later. You want to prepare enough food for the week in just one day. I recommend a few different sizes so that you have containers for entrees, salads and sides.
Keep it simple
You don’t have to get fancy here. Meal prep a complex carbohydrate, a vegetable and a protein:
Sweet potatoes, parsnip, squash, zucchini
Chicken breasts/thighs/legs, ground meat
Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green beans, asparagus, bok-choy
Plan your meals before you go to the grocery store so that you don’t buy ingredients that you don’t need. Try to find recipes that share ingredients so that you can get 2 meals from 1 ingredient.
Bake and/or roast vegetables and starches that have the same cook time
Diced potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts and carrots take 45 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees, so cook these together. Broccoli and asparagus take 25 minutes in the oven so add these vegetables to the oven when 25 minutes remain on the timer so everything finishes cooking at the same time.
Fill half your tupperware with vegetables and fill in the rest of the container with protein and carbohydrates
Having a base of vegetables will help you visualize your meal and how you want it to look. Pair vegetables and proteins in different arrangements so that you have some variety to each meal. If you have chicken and broccoli in one container, have chicken and green beans in another and pair the remaining broccoli with some salmon.
Use different spices and herbs to mix up your flavors
Use turmeric on your cauliflower, salt and pepper on your broccoli, oregano and parsley on your chicken. This will ensure that you don’t get bored. My favorite spices are Primal Palate blends, which take the guesswork out of combining herbs. And don’t get hung-up on only using the seafood blend on fish, or breakfast blend in your eggs. Mix it up and have fun with your seasonings – this is what will keep your taste buds from getting bored every week!
Mix up your serving techniques for the same food
Roast a potato whole, cut one potato into discs to make chips, and/or spiralize another potato to have “spaghetti.” This is a great way to keep your meals unique and interesting. You won’t get bored eating a potato every day if it looks different. Same technique goes for zucchini. These vegetables are extremely versatile and don’t be afraid to experiment!
Know your schedule
Along with planning your meals, plan your schedule. This will ensure budget friendly meal prep. If you know you are going out one night with friends, don’t include that night as a meal that you need to prep. If you have a lunch meeting at work, decide ahead of time if you are going to bring your own food or eat the food provided. Meal prep is meant to help you budget your time and money!
Bring Your Own Lunch
One clean eating tip is to bring your lunch to work meetings so you aren’t tempted by the sandwiches, soups, pizza, and other unhealthy choices.
Bring More Meal Prep Options
A second clean eating tip is to bring more than one meal at a time to work so that you have a choice of meals to eat that day. Having choices keeps things interesting. Also, if you get stuck working late, you don’t have to order in or eat everything in sight when you get home. Be prepared for everything!
Make food that can be used in a variety of ways
You don’t always have to make meals. I like to call this the meal prep buffet! Create the ingredients that can be used multiple times in a variety of ways. Sauté ground meat ahead of time so that you can add it to an omelet in the morning, or throw it on top of a salad or in a lettuce wrap. Prepping the meat now will save you time in the kitchen later. Prepare a few hard-boiled eggs for a great on the go breakfast. Roast carrots, brussels sprouts, asparagus and broccoli for easy reusable side dishes. If you know that the mornings are not your most energetic time of day, make some chia pudding by combining chia seeds and almond milk in a mason jar and leaving it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat it. Top with some fresh fruit and granola and you have the easiest morning meal without the hassle and cleanup. Have fresh fruit and nuts on hand for accessible healthy snacks.
I’m Leslie, the face behind the social media account balanced_life_leslie which focuses on making health and wellness fun and attainable to everyone. I am a Certified Health Coach after receiving training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I am also certified Reiki II and hold a BA and MSPC degrees from Clark University. I believe that living a balanced life is not just focused on the foods you eat, but also on the relationships you have, your career choices and physical activity. You can find me most mornings before the sun rises at working out, at home cooking with my husband, Ryan, at the dog park with our rescue dog, Sadie, or starting the day with a green smoothie in one hand and dark chocolate in the other.