Certified nutritionist and Glitter Guide contributor, Kara Stout, is sharing her top 10 tips for easy meal planning and prepping for a healthy and productive week.
When working with clients, I find that one of the top ways they feel successful in making major shifts in their eating habits is if they meal plan and prep.
Just like how making a to-do list daily or weekly keeps you on track for your daily and weekly goals, meal planning helps you stay focused and on track with healthy-eating goals. Not to mention the time and money you save! Plus, it relieves that perhaps annoying or stressful thought, especially at the end of a long workday, of “I have no food, what am I going to eat tonight?” This, of course, can lead to poor food choices or spending more money on healthy food than you’d like.
Honestly, there are some weeks that I don’t meal plan and prep, and those weeks feel much more unorganized, and my bank account isn’t as happy with me either. So, I have found just how much it can make a difference when planning and prepping!
Now, a weekend can get busy or maybe a weekend away makes it impossible to meal plan and prep. Definitely don’t beat yourself up about that. Just do what you can, when you can. The more often you meal plan and prep, the more it will become routine and hopefully something you look forward to. Especially when you’re choosing foods you love to eat!
To encourage you with your meal planning and prep, I wanted to share 10 simple tips and helpful suggestions:
- Choose foods that will get you excited. This I listed as number one for a reason! I always tell clients, don’t ever make yourself eat something you just don’t like. There are so many different foods available to us, so choose what you love to eat. That’s the best part. Food was created not only for our nourishment, but also for our enjoyment. So, for example, when I make my favorite overnight oats and know they will be ready for me in the mornings, I get excited to go to sleep and wake up the next day!
- Start by planning. Seems pretty obvious, but I wanted to expand on this a bit. Start by writing down your favorite go-to healthy recipes and snacks. Then start searching trusted recipe sites and Pinterest for some new ideas to try. Find recipes that have your favorite foods and that are simple and not too complicated. I also encourage you to branch out and try one or two new types of recipes and foods because you never know what you might end up loving! Print out the new recipes you’re going to try and begin to compile your grocery list, breaking your list into food categories (i.e. vegetables, animal/plant-based protein, fruits, whole grains, etc.). You can write out your list or there are apps available that provide recipes and then will also generate a grocery list for you!
- Consider planning on Saturday and prepping on Sunday. This is a personal preference, but a suggestion you can test out to see if you prefer planning and prepping all on one day over the weekend or if you prefer splitting it up. I prefer planning on Saturdays and then prepping on Sunday afternoons or evenings. This breaks up the amount of time it takes and makes it less overwhelming.
- Wash and cut up your fruit and vegetables. This will definitely make it easier and faster in the mornings when you’re creating breakfast smoothies or putting together a salad for lunch. If you have a spiralizer, you can make zoodles out of zucchini to have on hand throughout the week. You can also make other fun noodles out of different veggies.
- Bake or grill your animal proteins like chicken or salmon. This saves you time during the week so all you have to do is reheat in the oven for dinner or simply cut up and add to a lunch salad.
- Purchase a couple of your favorite fresh herbs. These are a great, simple way to add an extra boost of flavor to any meal. They are also fun to add to your water!
- Always have lemons and limes on hand. You’ll want plenty of lemons for the week to make your warm lemon water each morning, plus a little squeeze of lemon always adds a perfect touch of citrus flavor. Limes are also an easy and inexpensive way to add flavor to foods.
- Cook whole grains once and enjoy multiple times. Make plenty of your favorite grains, like quinoa or brown rice, once and then you can easily add to salads, make as a breakfast porridge or reheat as a side dinner dish.
- Make one or two extra servings of dinner to have for leftover lunches. This is especially great when you really love a dinner, then you will look forward to eating it again for lunch.
- Always plan on fresh flowers, too. Add some flowers to your grocery list to enjoy throughout your week. Flowers are always a great idea! Luckily, some grocery stores and farmers’ markets offer beautiful, inexpensive blooms.
It’s all about picking easy, quick, fun and flavorful foods. I wanted to share some of my favorite go-to meal prep foods as pictured in the above photo:
- Chia seed pudding
- Overnight oats
- Chocolate avocado mousse
- Fresh fruit
- Raw trail mix
- Variety of berries
- No-bake chocolate chip cookie dough protein bites
- Homemade hummus
- Grilled chicken breasts
- Sliced cucumbers
- Fresh herbs
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Lemons and limes