Cooking fresh meals everyday can feel impossible but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for fast food. With a little planning, you’ll be able to maintain a clean diet even on your busiest day.
The whole point of prepping your meals is to take some of the pressure off during the week. To start, grab some sturdy containers and find a routine that works with your schedule. If you’re new to this, start preparing meals for a few days at a time until you get used to it. You don’t need to spend your off day standing in the kitchen making a meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to cover the entire week. If you’re restricted in the morning, focus on breakfast. If you work late, or have those ridiculous 30 minute lunch breaks, focus on lunch/dinner.
For example, I shop on a per week basis and plan my meals accordingly. My trips to the market are every Saturday morning and I get fresh fruit and veggies to last up to the following Friday. I already know which meals I plan to eat before I start shopping that way I don’t end up with a ton of stuff that will end up going to waste. When I get home, I toss everything in the sink and soak it in baking powder. With the exception of berries and greens , everything gets cleaned in advance. Having your produce washed and ready for a grab and go will save you lots of time and energy. Especially for those of us who set our alarms for 6:00 am and ending up snoozing until 6:30. Every second counts.
I’m not really a breakfast person but I know how important it is for the body to get that kick start in the AM. It definitely sets the tone for your entire day. I dedicate time on my days off to bake things like granola, muffins, and cookies to eat with fresh fruit. Something simple and nutritious to hold me over until lunch. I also drink a glass of fresh juice every morning which consists of one large cucumber, 3 small Granny Smith apples, one green pepper, and one pear. I add honey when I feel like I could use an extra boost. It’s like my morning coffee and really gets me going. Some other quick breakfast ideas are:
Separate your favorite ingredients and store them in individual bags in the freezer that way all you have to do is pop them in the blender and go.
-Toast w/avocado or almond butter
-Apple slices w/almond butter
(I don’t chop my apples in advance because they turn brown so quickly but a quick chop in the morning shouldn’t take more than a minute. Add your almond or peanut butter and you’re set)
(Goes great with a cup of hot green or oolong tea)
Take ½ c of rolled oats, ½ c of milk ( your choice, I like almond) , add your extras ( raisins, almonds, cashews, fruit) mix it up, and store it overnight. I like to top mine with dark chocolate chunks and a little coconut. No cooking involved and you can store it up to 2 days.
Those are just a few examples if you’re over the whole boiled egg or cereal thing.
I tend to make large amounts of things like pasta, quinoa, and beans to store in the fridge. All of which taste amazing when veggies are thrown in the mix. I personally like my veggies made fresh so I chop them in advance just to cut out some of the down time. I steam, sauté or bake them depending on what I’m making and it usually doesn’t take more than 10 minutes. The same for sauce and toppings. I prepare extra and just reheat them like pesto or garlic and lemon sauce. Veggie stew is one of my favorite meals so when that’s on my list for dinner, I make a large pot by cooking seasoned veggies in whole peeled tomatoes for about 30 minutes on low to medium heat. I store it in individual containers and just pop it in the fridge. When I plan on freezing it I take it off a little early so my veggies won’t turn to mush during reheat.
The only way for me to avoid vending machine garbage is to take my own snacks with me when I’m on the go. My favorite snacks are:
Anything simple that will stay fresh and can handle a day in my backpack.
I tend to carry a small lunch box with me with some ice packs to keep everything cool. I’m a chocolate freak and I like my chocolate chilled so it really comes in handy. Separate your snacks into individual serving sizes that way you can toss them in your lunch box and head out.
Meal prep doesn’t mean cooking all your food at once. It can be as simple as cleaning, slicing, and separating your food in advance. To prep successfully, you’ll definitely need to find a routine that’s right for you and most important plan your meals. Good luck!