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Meal prepping isn't just for bodybuilders.
And it definitely does not mean you have to eat chicken and broccoli for the whole week, we promise!
Most of us find it difficult to find time to cook meals every day after long hours at work whilst having to take care of a family. Getting into the kitchen can seem like another chore that is unnecessary when you have takeout just a phone call away.
But with some planning and preparation, you can create your own healthy meals that are delicious and save you time and money!
Think you're too busy for meal prepping?
Here's the breakdown on how you can make meal prepping work for you - with any lifestyle!
Keep it simple
Rule #1 is don't overcomplicate things. Choose 2-4 meals to make this week and create larger quantities so you can consume them over several days. For instance, you could make a stir-fry for Monday night dinner and use leftovers for Tuesday lunch. Start with recipes that you know how to make or that are simple and build from there to avoid overwhelm.
Pick your day
Tied with rule #1 is picking your meal planning and prepping day. For most people, Sunday is the best day to do this otherwise you could pick 2 days per week to do smaller preps throughout the week and have less work to do in one go.
Tip: Invest in a whiteboard for your fridge to write all of your meals down for the week so it's easy to find and accessible when you are in the kitchen!
Make sure you support your energy levels throughout the day with healthy snacks at hand! If you find yourself getting home at night starving and caving for takeout, having a midday snack is a good strategy to stabilize your blood sugar and keep you going till dinner.
Some healthy snack ideas include veggie sticks with hummus, yogurt with berries, kale chips, fresh fruit, raw nuts and seeds, or a green juice.
Make a list
Once you have your list of meals for every day of the week, you now know what items you need to buy from the store. Only write down the ingredients that you need for the recipes and keep your list on you at all times in-store! This will help you avoid impulse buys as well as buying extra produce that might go to waste. Having a plan before you go shopping is the best way to make things quick and more affordable.
Cook in batches
Batch cooking is a fantastic way to quickly assemble meals together every day. Examples would be to cook larger portions of grains, legumes, veggies, and meats to use over a few days.
You can either store these items in the fridge for use during the week or freeze larger quantities. Batch cooking is a great way to whip up meals such as buddha bowls, soups, stews, or stir-fries in a rush!
Prep meals ahead of time
If you find yourself having a hard time remembering to brush your teeth and hair in the morning let alone make breakfast, prepping will be your best friend! Get breakfasts ready the night before so you are ready to go in the morning and have no reason to stop by Starbucks for that muffin and sugary latte on the way to work.
Some of our favourite quick breakfast options include chia pudding, overnight oats, smoothies, omelettes, and avocado toast.
Invest in containers
If you are going to prep foods, you will need containers! Ditch the plastics for glass containers in order to avoid BPA and other chemical exposures. This is especially important if you use a microwave because the chemicals can leach into your food more readily with heat exposure. These chemicals are known as xenoestrogens and can mess with your hormones (1). Ensure you have all the appropriate food storage containers such as freezer-safe containers, stainless steel and glass containers, and reusable baggies.
Order online groceries
There is no limit to what we can find online, and that includes groceries! We live in a time where we can order groceries with a click of a button and have it delivered to our doorstep. Just stop and think about that for a second!
Grocery shopping can be overwhelming and time-consuming so if you can get that part taken care of you can make things a whole lot easier for yourself.
The kitchen is your oyster! Utilize it to your advantage and its fullest potential by multitasking with different appliances and cooking methods simultaneously. Use the oven, stovetop, blender, crockpot, pressure cooker, and food processor as needed.
You can chop up veggies and make sauces whilst grains and meats are cooking all the while listening to your favourite music or podcast, talk about efficiency!
Stock your freezer
Got too much food to eat in your fridge? Can't finish off the leftover chili? Freeze it for later!
There is no better feeling than getting home and knowing you have options waiting for you. There will always be days where you feel like a chicken running around with its head cut off, so make things easy by having meals ready to go! This will help you avoid the "what's for dinner" panic attack. We guarantee your family will thank you later.
Meal prepping does not have to be hard. By keeping things simple and organized there is no reason why you can't make it work with your lifestyle. Get your family involved, find new recipes, and multi-task so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor and make your life easier!
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.