It's Monday morning and you're running late. You open the fridge to grab something quick to pack for lunch and realise there is nothing ready to go so you settle for buying lunch - yet again! Does this scenario sound at all familiar?
Let's face it. We are all busy which means meal-planning and prep often gets put on the back burner when life gets really hectic. Unfortunately, the consequences of that begin to set in as we eat out more often, make poor food choices, spend extra money, and begin to feel the pinch around our waist.
So how do you start your week with a better game plan? Meal prep!
If you're trying to eat healthy, meal prepping is so important. By planning, making, and storing your meals ahead of time, you can save time, money, calories and stress. If you're just starting out, meal prep may seem a bit overwhelming, but with a few tips and a little practice, you'll be whipping up weekly meals in no time.
1. Choose your food/meals
Spend some time online Googling recipes and other meal prep sites that have already done the work for you. Once you have found some basic plans and meals you like, print them out and keep in a notebook close to your kitchen. If you are a Pinterest user, create a meal prep board and pin them there for easy access.
2. Invest in some quality food storage containers
Make sure you buy a variety of sizes and look for ones with lids that snap. Also pick up some re-sealable freezer bags in various sizes, for marinating and freezer storage, and a variety of airtight glass storage jars.
3. Create your shopping list
The internet is loaded with ideas for this and there are endless apps for your phone that will generate lists for your individual needs.
4. Go shopping!
If at all possible, buy in bulk. Once you've had a few successful weeks of meal prep, you will know exactly what you need to buy and in what quantity, which will save time and money.
5. Pick a day and time to cook
Most people prefer Sunday if they work a traditional Monday to Friday week, but it's best to prep and cook on whatever day makes the most sense for you. Spend your meal prep time cooking multiple dishes at the same time so you have options to choose from throughout the week.
6. Meal prep ideas
Casseroles, slow cooker (crock pot) meals, grilled chicken breasts (chopped up and whole), cooked ground beef and turkey, rice, chopped veggies and fruit stored in individual freezer bags, salad fixings, cooked sweet potatoes/yams, quinoa, burrito bowls, chicken lettuce wraps, pasta salad, beans, overnight oats, ingredients for smoothies, and yogurt granola parfaits .
7. Store in containers and label
Label up your creations in different options, such as single portions, family size, grab-and-go, snacks, and home meals. Meals can be combined, with fruits and vegetables mixed in one container for a healthy grab-and-go.
Sara Lindburg has a B.S. in Exercise Science and an M.Ed. in Counselling. A 41-year-old wife, mother, and full-time secondary school counsellor, she combines 20-plus years' experience in the fitness and counselling fields and she has found her passion in inspiring other women to be the best version of themselves on her Facebook page, FitMom. Her inspiration for writing comes from her 6-year-old son, Cooper, and 8-year-old daughter, Hanna. Follow Sara on twitter.