For many, poor nutrition is a matter of “more important” things getting in the way. Work, family, friends, fitness pursuits….where are you supposed to find time to prepare all your meals in between that?
I know that for me personally, if I don’t set aside time each week for meal prep thinking I’ll just “wing it” throughout the week my nutrition definitely suffers. Even if I have a fridge and freezer stocked with clean & nutritious foods, at some point something is going to come up and I’m going to run out of time to cook a meal I can feel good about.
Not only does designating one day a week as “Awesome Meal Prep” day save me time, it also saves me money, ensures there are no excuses for making poor food choices, & also saves my sanity. I don’t know about you, but I definitely get frustrated when I’m out and about & hunger strikes and my only choices are Tim Hortons or an over-priced salad bar in a grocery store.
When you’re just starting out, planning your meals can seem a bit daunting. “How am I supposed to know what in going to eat at every meal every day for a whole week?!” You don’t have to have it all planned to a T, but taking 10 or 15 minutes to formulate a general plan is helpful. On Sundays I like to figure out what I’ve got going on in the week; what times am I working at, when and where am
I working out, and when do I know I’m going to be home to cook a meal? From there I can figure out where I know I’m going to benefit from having something pre-made and where I may end up in a situation where healthy snacks will come in handy. I’ll make a list of things I know I’ll need and get my ass to the markets and grocery store.
Mondays are usually the day the magic happens. The scale of my meal prepping depends on how busy of a week I’ve got coming up, but it almost always includes roasting veggies, hard boiling eggs, cooking a big batch of carbs such as rice or quinoa, baking some sort of protein, and making some healthier treats such as muesli or muffins. On my days off I also enjoy trying out new recipes for dinner, so I’ll try to make extras so there are leftovers for lunches throughout the week.
Last week was a bit busier than usual, so I cooked a batch of turkey chili, sweet potato and split pea soup, roasted vegetables, hard boiled eggs, salad, and coconut protein muffins. The actual hands-on time this took was probably about an hour and a half, two hours tops. I set the eggs to boil and made the mix for the muffins; by the time the eggs were done the muffins were ready to go in the oven. While the muffins baked I browned the turkey and sauteed the veggies for the chilli and then threw it all in the slow cooker. When the muffins came out of the oven the veggies went in, and I chopped the rest of my veggies for the salad and soup. All the soup veggies went in a pot with some water to simmer for an hour, and voila! Nutritious lunches, snacks, and dinner sides ready for the week in no time. I like to keep plain fish fillets in the freezer for easy work night dinners; I’ll heat the oven when I’m in the shower, throw in a piece of fish when I get out, and by the time I’m dressed it’s ready to go. Pair that shit with some of my prepped veggies and salad and dinner is done like….dinner.
Here’s another example: slow cooker steel cut oats, muesli, bread, chicken breasts, black beans, soup, roasted veggies, and hard boiled eggs. It doesn’t have to be complicated! If you don’t want to miss out on time with your family, get them involved! Have your kids cut veggies or measure ingredients, get your significant other to cut the nasty bits off chicken, and get input from everyone so that they’re more likely to make some healthier choices as well. Meal prep can also be a social thing; get your friends together, have everyone responsible for bringing something different to the mix, and spread the healthy, sanity-saving wealth! Sorry, but there are NO EXCUSES for eating poorly! Spend a little extra time preparing some nutritious foods for yourself and your family now, and you’ll spend less time in the gym later compensating for the poor choices you made during the week, or in the doctor’s office dealing with diseases that could have been prevented with a healthy diet (gotta throw a LITTLE fear mongering in there for ya 😉 )
I look at my time in the kitchen as my “me time”. Not only do I get to spend time doing something I love, I’m also doing something good for my health and my body. To me, there is no greater feeling than knowing I’m setting myself up for success and putting in the effort required to achieve my goals. I may or may not also throw on some crappy music and have a mini dance party. The more fun and easy you make healthy eating, the more likely you are to stick with it!