If you work with me at all, you know that I am always saying preparation is key to success with your nutrition! Planning ahead is essential for many reasons. Allowing yourself time to reflect on what you plan to eat for the week helps you successfully create grocery lists, aids you in avoiding those hangry moments, and helps you navigate your goals with more purpose and direction.
Meal prep isn’t for everyone though. Whether it be because they don’t like cooking or because the recipes they’ve tried before just weren’t that great, the thought of doing some Sunday cooking for the week can make you want to skip it all entirely.
I have been meal prepping for around 10 years, and have fine tuned my approach to make it enjoyable, delicious, and something I look forward to every single week. The tips below are ones that have helped meal prep become something I can do long term, without wanting to fall off track.
Setting the tone
Shifting your mindset to what meal prep is for you can help change the attitude surrounding it. It is an opportunity for self care, a chance to put on some of your favorite music and just get in the zone, a moment to yourself, and a fun way to explore new techniques and ways of cooking. To me, my Sunday afternoons and evenings are sacred because it is a chance for me to ground myself for the week. When we treat it as a time to ground ourselves and set our intentions for the week, it is less of a daunting task.
Stop overcomplicating it
One of the biggest meal prep mistakes I see with clients is that they are overcomplicating it. They are maybe trying too many new recipes at once and/or making a bunch of meals that require completely different ingredients. The ultimate key here is to 1. keep it simple and 2. utilize meals that have similar ingredients across the board.
- What does keeping it simple look like? For me, it looks like: Prepping some of each macronutrient to combine for meals throughout the week. Proteins- baked tofu and sauteed ground turkey. Carbs- cooked rice and roasted potatoes. Fats- homemade sauces and dressings. Colors- roasted vegetables and cut/wash fruits and veggies. Then during the week, I can combine some of each macronutrient and make nourishing meals.
- What do I mean when I say utilize meals with similar ingredients? Here is some inspiration from Liz Moody, one of my favorite recipe creators: 4 Meals 1 Prep Vegan Edition, 4 Meals 1 Prep Rotisserie Chicken Edition.
Try not to choose recipes that each require extreme variety from what you would normally cook and have on hand. If you want to be adventurous and try a new recipe, stick with 1 new recipe a week. If you love cooking and have the time.
Choose staples to always have on hand
Here are my top recipes that I make WEEKLY! I prep these and throw them in the freezer until I need them.
- Egg bake: you can customize this by adding whatever veggies and spices you like or are in the mood for.
- Banana Muffins
- Cilantro lime rice: i just cook white or brown rice and add lime juice, lime zest, salt, and chopped cilantro to taste!
- Breakfast Sandwiches
- White Chicken Chili
- Honey Sriracha Turkey Meatballs
Create a backup plan when you know you’ll be busy or out of town
If I have a crazy weekend of travel, events, or other commitments I usually just order a meal delivery service. We recommend Unrefined.
Or, I will go to one of my favorite restaurants and order catering or a family meal! I know this sounds interesting, but trust me on this one. My favorite is from Sittoo’s. Ordering catering items allows me the opportunity to get a larger amount of food to create meals throughout the week. Here’s my go-to order:
- Sittoo’s Combo Tray. I ask them to package the rice separately! Includes rice pilaf (sprinkled w/ cinnamon) topped with beef kafta (char-grilled seasoned lean ground beef w/ minced onions & parsley), shish kabob (char-grilled tender marinated beef), and chicken shawarma (char-grilled marinated chicken). Served with tahini yogurt dressing.
- Tabouli tray
Lastly, I have frozen and other easy items on hand when I know things will be hectic. My go-to’s include: 90 second microwaveable rice, frozen edamame, frozen potatoes, trader joe’s frozen meals, frozen veggies, veggie burgers, yogurt, and protein bars. These items always help me create easy meals in a pinch.
Meal prep doesn’t have to be miserable. Try the above tips and let me know how it goes!