Don't you love seeing pictures, posts and videos of people's elaborate meal plans? Sure you do! I initially hated it. I looked at people's elaborate displays of food perfectly packaged and labelled for each day and thought 'they must have a lot of time and money'. They had the cute,fit food for you and your 10 children lunch bags, supplements, 64 oz water bottles... It honestly all seemed overwhelming to me. I came to understood the benefits and the actual money saving opportunities of meal prepping. So, one week I decided to give it a shot. Lessons I learned:
- I don't like eating the same food for more than two days (first world problems... I know)
- I don't have space in my fridge for a weeks worth of meals
- It really does require a lot of time
- The desire to eat out was not quenched
- I need a bigger lunch bag
- It sucks to leave your food at home
- My love for food remained the same
All jokes aside meal prepping can be fun, budget friendly an delicious! With these and other factors in mind, I decided to make things a little more me friendly and time efficient. Now I:
1. Stock up on staples
There are the staple items I use often that can be bought in bulk, are non perishable, or can be thrown in the freezer for preservation. These are items that I'm certain will be included in my meal plan These include but are not limited to frozen fruit, meats, grains and legumes. . With certain items readily available, I find myself going grocery shopping less often and spending less money each time.
When I buy chicken or ground beef, I head to BJ's and buy the large packs. When I get home I season it and place them in baggies in the freezer. This allows me to reach in and grab my already seasoned meats for cooking.
I buy a large bag of frozen fruit about every two months. I found myself throwing away a lot of fresh fruit that I would buy just for my smoothies. Now each time I'm making a smoothie I can head to the freezer grab a cup or two and blend with my other fresh ingredients like kale and spinach.
With my grains and legumes, I know I can leave those in the pantry and grab a couple cups whenever I need to cook it. It's not something I find myself needing to buy each week.
2. Create a weekly meal plan
Now that you have your staples, plan for your week. Include what you'll be having each day for breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner. Please include your cheat day if you have one. This will help you avoid overindulging on that day.
Each day should be aimed at gaining all your necessary nutrients. A great app I use to track that is myfitnesspal. It helps you track not only calories but your fat, sodium and sugar intake based on your entries. Also put items that you know you'd enjoy eating. Don't be afraid to spice it up. Healthy eating doesn't mean bland eating.
3. Choose two days for prepping your food
I found cooking on just one day took a lot of time and space! My current meal prep days are Sunday and Wednesday. Two days also gives me an opportunity to add variety to my meals.
4. Stick to the plan!!
Find someone to hold you accountable, track your eating and don't forget your food at home lol. Meal prepping does take discipline and dedication but, I believe in you! Start with one week and go from there.
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