With a busy schedule of work, school, taking care of a family, or whatever it may be, it can be difficult to find the time to cook every meal. Rushing around or not having meals readily available can lead to choosing the quickest option-which may not be the healthiest option. This often ends with takeout which in many cases can be loaded with sodium and empty calories. Meal prepping, which is simply planning and prepping your meals for the week, saves you the time and stress of having to cook every day. It also helps to keep you on track with healthy eating. Although meal prepping can seem like it would be very time consuming on the day, it does not necessarily mean that you must cook all your meals at once. Meal prepping can include cooking in bulk to plan for the week, cutting vegetables so they are ready to roast or eat raw for a snack, or even just having a set menu for meals each day. Not only will being better prepared lead to healthier eating, it will also be more cost efficient in the long run!
Designating a specific day of the week to go food shopping is a good way to make sure that you are prepared for the week ahead. Going to the grocery store with a list ensures that you are getting everything that you need and helps to avoid picking up any unhealthy impulse buys. Stock up on various sizes of Tupperware to help store food in the freezer/refrigerator or when you are taking it on the go. This system is all about being organized and prepared when it comes to your meals!
Whether it is on the same day as your weekly grocery shop, or on another designated day of the week, look to prepare your food to make your meals easier when time is limited.
Some ways to do this are:
- Peel, chop, and cut all raw vegetables, that way they are easily accessible when you want to use them for meals or to take as a healthy snack option.
- Steam, roast, or sauté a large batch of vegetables and store them in clear containers in the refrigerator so they are easy to find when you need them. You can do the same with fruit, especially fruit that needs more preparation to eat such as a pineapples or strawberries. Having fruit already sliced and ready to eat also makes a healthy fruit smoothie easy to put together on the go.
- Make meal choices that can be stored in the freezer and easily defrosted to cook or eat right away such as homemade soup, casseroles, and meat. They can be stored in serving sizes of 5 or 6 ounces so you are defrosting just what is needed.
- Brown/wild rice and quinoa can also be made in large batches to have leftovers throughout the week.
- Having snacks on hand helps to keep hunger under control and will help keep your metabolism up as the day goes on. Snacks such as veggies, fruit, hard boiled eggs, and nuts can be stored in proper containers or bags so they are easy to take with you.
Meal prepping can be kept as simple or made more thorough depending on how much time you have to put into it. Think what will save you the most time throughout the week and try to prepare that ahead of time. Also, try to balance out the meals you are making for yourself. When preparing lunches and dinners try and pack a protein, vegetable, and a carbohydrate. Again, there is no set way to meal prepping, it is all about working around your schedule and putting in some time and preparation to help yourself stay on track with a healthy diet even when your schedule is hectic!
By Lisa Cassata