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“What can I do today to make tomorrow easier for myself?”
A couple years ago this question hit me, and I decided to figure out how I could best serve my future self. I found myself constantly being stressed about making/buying meals every day that fit my dietary needs, especially when I was on the go. It became clear that picking one day to do meal prep for the week would not only be beneficial to me, but would save me so much time that I could then use spending time with my family, working, and taking care of myself.
I started this habit about 18 months before my health scare in August of 2020. I understandably have had to take a few months off to rest and eat what I could to keep my body functioning. I have recently been able to begin my weekly meal prepping again, and it has been noticeably beneficial in continuing my recovery process!
My typical meal plan consists of any combination of this:
BREAKFAST: 1 oz grain (oatmeal / potato), 4 oz protein (eggs, cottage cheese), 6 oz fruit
LUNCH: 2 oz grain (oatmeal / potato), 4 oz protein (chicken / beef), 6 oz raw veggies, 2 tbs fat (dressing), 6 oz fruit
DINNER: 4 oz protein (chicken / beef), 6 oz cooked veggies, 6 oz green salad, 2 tbs fat (dressing)
There is no right or wrong way to do your meal prep, but I am excited to share about my system and which products have been the most helpful. Take what tips you like and personalize them to your specific dietary needs–remember, each individual’s body has specific needs, so I am in no way recommending a diet, a “weight loss regimen”, or a one size fits all meal plan. I also want to note that these meals are just for me, my husband and children eat a variety of meals throughout the week, and they all understand that I’m doing what’s best for my body!
I prefer repeating similar meals each week. It’s simpler, I enjoy the consistency, and it makes prepping all the easier. I’d recommend picking the same breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for the first two weeks and decide if you need more variety or if you like the routine!
PREPPING FOR PREP
- Find the right containers. I’ve learned not all tupperware is created equal–and it was especially important for me to find affordable, air-tight, reusable, microwavable, and dishwasher-safe products to use. These Promoze sets on Amazon have by far been the absolute best! I don’t think I’ll ever use anything else. https://amzn.to/3m6iKO2
- Create the fridge space. It’s up to you how many meals you choose to prep at a time, but adequate space in your fridge for storage is a MUST. Make sure you have the space before you start prepping. I personally have one shelf dedicated to storing my meals.
- Buy in bulk. This part of the process may seem expensive, however you are saving yourself not only money, but time as well! When I’m on the go I bring the meals with me, so I don’t spend money going out to eat. It also prevents overspending on groceries I forget to use. I typically choose Costco, but any buy-in-bulk store will be great!
- Choose one day to complete your meal prep on (I do Sundays so my meals are set for the upcoming week). It usually takes me between 2-3 hours to complete the process, so clear a block of time that is easiest for you.
- Start with a clean kitchen. The process of meal-prepping can look like absolute chaos! It’s been so helpful for me to take 10-15 minutes prior to starting to clear off my counter space, load in any dishes, and sanitize the areas I will be using. I promise this step will make a huge difference in the smoothness of the process.
- BREAKFAST–I typically eat a hardboiled egg and pick a fruit to start my day. You can purchase pre-hard boiled eggs (which I usually do), or buy regular eggs and prep them yourself. I have found three equally good methods: boil on the stove, steam cook in the instapot, or bake in a muffin pan (325 degrees for 30 min, then place in ice water). However you choose to prep them, allow them to cool and remove the shells before storing. I know this part is tedious, but you will be so thankful that you don’t have to peel one everyday.
- LUNCH–For my middle meal I choose a protein, a vegetable, and a fruit. To keep my sanity, I purchase pre-cooked meats to use as my proteins. Some of my favorites are chicken skewers, oven-browned turkey breast, slow-cooked pork carnitas, and angus beef patties. For the vegetables I vary between carrots, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower. I slice and coat all my vegetables in olive oil, and season with coarse salt and garlic powder, and roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. This sprayable olive oil is on my monthly delivery list from Amazon–it makes the roasting process quicker, easier, and significantly less messy! https://amzn.to/3rB3FFs
- DINNER–I repeat the same idea as lunch- a protein, a vegetable, and a fruit, but I make sure the menu choices vary from my previous meal (different protein, different fruit/vegetable). In addition, I add a side salad. For my salads I use mixed greens, and place cherry tomatoes and cucumbers on top. I make sure the vegetables sit on top, so when I pour the serving of dressing on, it sits on those vegetables instead of directly on the lettuce (to prevent wilting). I personally use Olive Garden’s ranch dressing https://amzn.to/31w8pkO, and sprinkle Everything but the Bagel seasoning on top! https://amzn.to/3di0XiZ
I am such a big proponent for self-care, and sometimes that care looks like work. Meal prepping is one of the most crucial tasks I do for myself each week. The few hours of labor I put in provide me with a week of stress-free eating, positive nutrition, and peace of mind. I’m excited to hear what has worked/what you have learned from your meal prep experiences!
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