With summer ending and calendars being filled up, it had me thinking about how crucial meal prep is in my life. My fall schedule is insane with longer drives and late-night class 3x a week. To keep my life sane, I must keep meal prep a priority. And I know you all have busy schedules too so I am going to share how I meal prep!
I don’t know how people don’t meal prep! Right now with working regular hours, class time at night…I have zero time to do any cooking during the week. Meal prep is a must unless I want to be crabby and hungry. Let’s get started !
Now for the most part, I LOVE cooking. It is fun to try new recipes and snack on the delicious food. It makes me feel accomplished after all my hard work. But week after week, it can get tiring and easily takes up a good part of the day. Grocery shopping for 1-2 hours….then cooking 2-4 hours…maybe longer.. There goes an entire day of just cooking!! Even though I don’t always enjoy the work, it makes the week SO much less stressful. For me staying fueled properly is part of my success strategy, it helps me avoid sugar or over spending money at whole foods hot bar, lol. Over the years of meal prepping, I have developed simple framework that help me to get in and out of the kitchen.
- Deciding What to Cook. – I have spent HOURS deciding what I should cook. This got really exhausting as sometimes I have no idea what I want. I also get tired of making recipes that were just “eh” and then forcing myself to still eat it. Now I set a time limit on deciding and if I don’t know what to make I rely on my tried and true recipes. I aim to make uncomplicated recipes so I don’t spend ALL day cooking. But I don’t let myself ponder on it forever because making decisions drains my energy. If I start over analyzing, I make myself just decide. No use wasting my precious time and energy on a small decision like what to cook. If what to check out some of my favorite recipes – follow my Pin Boards – Clean Healthy Recipes on a Budget. I pick 1 recipe for the week and make a BIG batch.
- Lunch Time Meal Prep – I don’t want to think AT ALL lately so to simplify my meal prep, I cook up nourish bowls and switch up the ingredients week by week. This offers variety in the ingredients that build up the bowls and simplifies my cooking. I also try to have leftovers that can be mixed up to make various dinner combos!
Here are the basics of my Simple Lunch Meal Prep:
- Roasted Veggies – I choose a variety of veggies at the grocery or farmers market. I like to incorporate 2 new veggies that I don’t eat often. I decide based on color, local options and sales. This week I added in okra and eggplant…2 foods that I RARELY eat if ever. I chop everything up and place on a huge pan. I cover the veggies with avocado oil and himalyan salt and roast at 400 degrees until they look perfectly cooked. (I never time exactly)
- Cook Protein/Legumes/Gluten-Free Grain – Lately I have been mixing the veggies with quinoa/rice/chickpeas and have not added any animal protein. This was for no reason other than I like to switch back and forth between carbs and protein. Now I have been feeling the need to go back to more protein and less grains so this week I made a delicious Cilantro Lime Salmon to pair with the veggies.
- Sauce-y Time – Roasted veggies taste delicious on their own and so does this FLAVORFUL Cilantro Lime Salmon (seriously the most amazing salmon recipe I have made yet) but sometimes protein and veggies can be boring especially day after day!! To make things more exciting I love to drench everything in delicious anti-inflammatory sauce! <3 I always try to make extra of the sauce that way I have something to pair with my dinner meals or drench on anything I happen to be eating. Sauces are very versatile so I love finding new recipes to cover my food in! And if you get bored with food easily, just make a few different sauces to keep it interesting!
- Pack it up! – Pile everything together into 5 Tupperware containers for each day. Voila! You have lunch for the week that will you leave you full and feeling good and all the flavor leaves you satisfied.
- Brainstorm Dinner Ideas – Instead of cooking a specific meal for dinner, I prep a variety of food items to create my own meal throughout the week. Lately, I have been making mason jar salads for the busy nights where I have class or won’t be home until 9-10pm. For these I prep the protein (chicken) and then package up into mason jars and mix in whatever veggies I might have on hand. I make sure to always have greens. Then I mix in fresh tomatoes, corn, leftover roasted veggies, etc. Top the salad with my homemade dressing and my cooked protein! And now I have on-the-go dinners ready to go!
- Snacks – I like to eat ALL the time. So I make sure I have enough food to snack on. My favorites include: Sprouted Avocado Toast with Everything Bagel Spice, Rolled up Ham (Any Deli Meat) with Avocado and Everything Bagel Spice, Sweet Potato/Potato, Fresh Fruit, Hummus and Veggies, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Lara Bars, Almond Spice Square Organics…etc. All in all – BE PREPARED and well stocked with healthy food!!
If you are new to meal prepping/cooking, take some time to brain storm and write down 3 meal combinations – 1 for lunch and 2 for dinner. You can include breakfast, if you feel extra motivated. Now if you know yourself and need hard plans, I suggest NOT winging it and making an exact plan. You know yourself best. 😊
To provide an example grocery list for 1 week’s meals, see below:
4 yellow summer squash
2 mini eggplant
1 red onion
1 container of okra (16oz??)
1 orange pepper
Cilantro Avocado Sauce:
2 Chicken Breast
1 lb baby potatoes
Use this as framework to write up your own list! I shop weekly and mostly buy what I need for protein and veggies. Then I cook most everything right away so I don’t worry about foods going bad! I hate when food goes bad so weekly grocery shopping helps me to avoid this dilemma. I also like to use ingredients in a variety of ways! For example – I used cilantro in both the sauce and the protein recipe. I always waste cilantro and I liked that I came up with a way to use it all up! #nowaste
So there you have it! The basics of How I Meal Prep! I hope this provides a good framework for you and shows you that meal prepping doesn’t have to be tricky! It isn’t always easy, but it is totally worth it to not have to cook every single day! It makes keeping the kitchen easy too because you only make a BIG mess once a week. Maybe next up, I will share how I stock my pantry and all my favorite staples and snacks that I always have on hand! Let me know if you want see this!
If you need ideas on meal prep recipes – be sure to check out my Pin Boards here. 😊
And comment below what are your favorite meal prep recipes right now?? I love getting new inspiration!
Thanks for reading my blog! I hope you all have a balanced, healthy, and creative week! <3