Meal prepping does NOT have to mean 8 hours every Sunday slaving away in the kitchen. Meal prep can really be quite simple. It can mean putting snacks in baggies at the beginning of the week to grab and go.
It can mean simply writing down what you are going to have for the week and getting the ingredients. It can also mean 8 hours every Sunday slaving away in the kitchen. It is completely up to you and what works best for your family. What it should, most definitely, mean is an easier way to eat healthy during the week. I was listening to a podcast once and they said something along the lines of “Decide once. Make a decision once and stick to it.” It’s a simple concept, but it was an “oooohhhhh” for me.
Decide once, on Sunday, what you will eat every day rather than deciding 7 times. There are memes galore about this; nobody likes to think about what they are going to eat for dinner every single day of their life. Decide once.
Some days, you aren’t going to be on the ball, that is just a reality. When you don’t decide your meals ahead of time, or pack a lunch, or eat a good breakfast, you are so much more likely to whip through a drive through or eat something unhealthy because you’re starving. No judgement, I am guilty as well!
Everything doesn’t need to go up in smoke because you didn’t have the time to plan ahead. Try to always keep some of the following in your car or bags (or even just around the house) to help combat this: Premier Protein drinks, nuts, grapes, and lots of water! If you have a cooler lunch bag (or your fridge handy), it’s also great to have any of these with you; string cheese, yogurt, veggies and hummus, apples and peanut butter, etc.
One of the benefits to a lot of us still working/learning at home is that we have easier access to food and can make better choices even when we haven’t prepared.
Is it just me, or does fall make you crave all the warm cozy foods? My crockpot is in overdrive from September through March, making sure those warm cozy foods are easy to make and healthier to eat. A crockpot meal is a great place to throw together some healthy fats and proteins and sneak in some veggies. The best part? Crockpot meals are easy to prep ahead of time! When you go to the grocery store, separate your meat into the portions your recipes call for. Chop your veggies ahead of time and bag them up for the different meals. Any weekday morning, in between breakfast and brushing your teeth, you can grab those pre-portioned baggies out of the freezer and throw them in the crockpot. Boom. Dinner will cook itself while you are at work/working from home/teaching your kids.
Recipe: Crockpot Verde Pork
This recipe is one of my favorites. The base of it is two ingredients, and the ways you can adapt it are endless.
One jar salsa verde
One pork loin, unseasoned
Place pork loin in the crockpot, add the jar of salsa, cook on low for 8 hours.
Serve this for dinner over rice, over lettuce for a salad, or in shells for tacos.
To make this a lunch or a dinner easy prep, you can create burrito bowls. While the pork is cooking, cook some rice and saute some peppers and onions. Take individual containers and put in a cup of rice, some sautéed veggies and the pork. You can also add some pinto or black beans for some extra fiber and protein. When you’re ready to eat, just heat up the container for your very own burrito bowl!
Don’t overthink it, don’t stress about it, just do some planning to make your weekdays healthier and simpler. Decide on your main meal, and be sure to have some healthy grab and go options available for the rest of the day. If that is all you do, you will already be ahead.
Molly Nevins, ACSM HSF, is a longtime contributor to Healthy & Fit Magazine. Check out her Facebook page at: facebook.com/molly.fit