Even if you don’t have time to plan out every single meal, all you need to do is stay a few steps ahead. Make it easy on yourself with these few tips in mind.
BY: JENNA GORHAM, RD
Meal prep is one of those things we seem to make really hard on ourselves. Even the sound of it is completely overwhelming. We seem to think it has to take hours out of our Sunday and include different Pinterest-worthy recipes each night.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.
Remember, the whole point of meal prepping is to simplify cooking and planning, as well as limit stress throughout the week, not add to it. Here are a few simple tips to simplify the process so you can plan with ease.
1. Start Small
When you start meal planning, you often think you need to have something planned for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for 5-7 days each week. Start by planning just 1 meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) for just 2-3 days out of the week. This leaves room for flexibility in your schedule and can prevent food from going bad.
After all, things come up: plans change, you don’t feel like cooking, or you don’t stick with the planned meal one night – that’s OK! Eating should be flexible, not rigid. If a different meal was planned for each night of the week, and plans change or one recipe leaves you with way more leftovers than you intended on- ingredients may go to waste. Start small while you figure out what works best for you, your schedule, and your habits.
2. Keep it Simple
Don’t overdo it on the recipes. Remember, meal prep is meant to help make healthy eating easier, not harder. Use tricks like planning weekly theme nights, or repurposing leftovers to keep planning minimal. By mixing it up, you won’t get tired of the same meals week after week.
For theme nights, try Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Pizza Night, Pasta Night, Breakfast for Dinner, Crockpot meals, or Sheet pan dinners. Repurpose your leftover roasted chicken into caesar salad, pizza, wraps, soup, or quesadillas.
3. Stock your Kitchen and Pantry
When your fridge, freezer, and pantry is stocked with healthy go-to items, it’s easy to pull together quick, nutritious meals without spending hours on Pinterest looking for the perfect recipe. Keep your pantry and freezer stocked with lean proteins (chicken, fish, black beans, lentils), whole grains (tortillas, bread, pasta, quinoa, brown rice), and frozen fruits and veggies (broccoli, brussels sprouts, peas, cauliflower, mixed berries, bananas). When you come home late after a long day, you won’t stress over having nothing in the fridge, or feel the need to pick up take-out on the way home because you’ll be ready to throw something together.
Here’s to feeling a little more prepared, and a little less stressed!
For more meal planning tips and recipes, head to the original article.
Jenna Gorham, RD is a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Bozeman, Montana focused on helping 20-somethings improve their health by making healthy eating easy. By emphasizing nutrition is more than the latest fad diet and trend, Jenna bridges a better understanding of the body’s needs with simple, long-lasting lifestyle habits that help others achieve the best health.