The key component to starting any new healthier habit is planning! Here are some tips to get you started prepping and planning meals for a healthier, more nutritious way of eating.
Make a plan Make a list of your favorite healthy foods and decide what you’ll eat for every snack and meal. Save your plan for future weeks. Once you have a few meal prep menus in your arsenal, you can rotate them.
Start with what you hate Think about what your “problem” meal is and prep that one. Dedicating your prep time to the meal you’re least likely to cook during the week will actually make a dent in your more expensive, less healthy takeout consumption.
Do what you can You don’t have to prep every meal for every day of the week. Put together a few Mason jar salads, cook a batch of rice or quinoa, or bake a few sweet potatoes. If you only have time to prep lunch or snacks, that little bit will make a difference.
Don’t cook all the food you prep Food prep can be as simple as chopping veggies for recipes; washing fruits and veggies and portioning out nuts, cheese, and crackers for snacks; or cutting up chicken or beef to be recipe ready.
Divide and conquer Split your meal prep into multiple days. Cook rice and chicken on Saturday, then roast veggies or prep salads on Sunday. Find a schedule you’ll stick to, even if it means prepping more than once per week.
Master multitasking Use multiple parts of your kitchen and appliances at once. Have something cooking in the slow cooker, baking in the oven, cooking on the stove, while you’re at the counter.
Invest in the right containers Glass containers allow you to re-heat your meals and eat from them — and they practically last forever. Look for containers that allow you to portion-size meals and come in a wide range of sizes.
Make portions crystal clear
Prevent overeating by portioning nuts, pretzels, or favorite nibbles into snack baggies or portable jars. Having just enough ready to go for lunch or a snack will help you from going overboard.
The options are endless when it comes to prepping food. Maybe you find it helpful to make mason jar overnight oats, buffalo shredded chicken and a couple frozen slow cooker kits. If the only thing you want to prep each week is hardboiled eggs, that’s fine too.
Alison Bradow is the chronic disease prevention coordinator at the YMCA of Metropolitan Lansing. Contact her at (517) 827-9656 or at ymcaoflansing.org.