Meal Prep 101. Keep it simple.

Do you meal prep? Everyone that knows me, knows I am huge on meal prepping each week. We have been meal prepping our weekly lunches and snacks for ten years. It sets us up for success. We have healthy options to eat everyday and it saves us a lot of money. Meal prepping can be very overwhelming to someone that is completely new to the concept. I think if we get too intricate with the variety or try to constantly recreate healthier versions of junk food, we get into trouble. Also, it’s expensive.


It is my belief that walking into the grocery store armed with a healthy food list and no plan is disastrous. It’s not only a budget killer, it is also a confidence killer. How many times have you walked into the store with that healthy foods list and purchased 6 different fruits, 7 different vegetables and three different bags of nuts, that are not cheap by the way? I am raising my hand with you. We have all done it. We blew the budget buying 70 different items on the list, including organic condiments because the list said so and we don't even know how to cook most of it. We have no clue what to do with any of this, so we put that 8 dollar organic pizza in the oven and decide to try again tomorrow. Tomorrow comes, we have nothing prepared for lunch so we order take out despite having just dumped 300 dollars at the grocery store. Again, I have done this. **Side Note: I have nothing against organic, if your budget allows this, then good for you. Mine does not.


The major component of meal prep is keeping it simple and planning ahead. There has to be a plan and I cannot stress that enough. The fastest, most convenient way for me to meal prep is by selecting no more than two options for the week.

  • 2 meats

  • 2 carbs

  • 2 vegetables

  • 2 fruits

  • 2 snacks


I buy in bulk for my meal prep also. It’s another money saver. This is what a typical week looks like for our meal prep/ This is for two adults and 1 child. We pull from this for dinner a few times a week too. Be aware, it's not overly glamorous. It is nutrient dense, delicious, healthy and very satisfying!


**Side note, if you refuse to eat “leftovers” this type of meal prep may not be for you.


Protein

  • 3 pounds of ground turkey, seasoned well with roasted garlic and herb seasoning and cooked in a skillet

  • 5-6 pounds of chicken breasts, seasoned with mesquite marinade packets and cooked in crockpot on low for 6-7 hours

  • Plain, nonfat Greek Yogurt (Snack Choice1)

  • Protein powder (Snack Choice 2)

Carbs

  • 5 pounds of roasted sweet potatoes

  • 12 servings of white rice

  • Apples (Snack Choice)

  • Bananas (Snack Choice)

Fats

  • Peanut Butter (Snack Choice)

  • Low fat salad dressing

Vegetables

  • Spring mix

  • Vegetable steamer bags (It’s your choice on which ones and you can buy a variety of these. I typical choose green beans and stir fry blends)


Now, my fridge has two different containers of meat to pull from and two different carb sources to pull from. There are usually two large containers of spring mix in there along with my favorite low fat salad dressings. I keep Greek yogurt in there as well. I have vegetable steamer varieties in the freezer. My fruit bowl on the counter has apples and bananas. The peanut butter and protein powder are in the pantry.


This is very easy because it is simple. For lunch prep, select a meat, a carb source, a vegetable. If you choose salad as your vegetable, add two tablespoons of low fat dressing to it (please notice how I did not mention croutons, bacon or cheese). Put these foods in a container and take them to work with you. You have a full, hot lunch that you prepared yourself.


If you take snacks to work, I most certainly do, utilize the protein powder, fruit choices, the Greek yogurt and peanut butter.


My most commonly used snack combos are the following:

  • 1 cup of Greek yogurt, stevia and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter all mixed together with an apple on the side.

  • 1 protein shake, banana and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter


I really hope this helps to simplify your weekly meal prep. Just remember to limit the choices to two until you get the hang of it. After that, it will be easier to see where you can add in the extras that will not go to waste in the fridge or on the counter. I would encourage you to try it for at least 60 days. The first 30 days will be the trial and error phase. Did I make too much or too little? If you feel like you have too much food, use some of it at dinner too. When I am short on time to make dinner, I grab some of the meat from the fridge and make burritos, tacos, salads or omelettes. Thankfully, I do not have any picky eaters and my family never complains about the foods I choose for us.


We do indulge in the occasional take out lunch. It's a habit we never really picked up so, it's rare. I may not have mentioned this before, but we love lunch meat sandwiches and I am not above canned soup. Soups and sandwiches have saved me a pinch numerous times. Another thing, I do take breaks and choose to do other things that I enjoy. Sometimes I cannot find time to do it all. Occasionally, full scale meal prepping is not my top priority. To be clear, 95 percent of the time, meal prepping is one of my top priorities.




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