Feel overwhelmed by the idea of meal prep? Let’s find the right style of healthy meal prep to make eating well easier , without hours in the kitchen or complete overwhelm.
What is meal prep?
Healthy meal prep, like meal planning, should suit your lifestyle and personality. That means you’re doing some amount of preparation (chopping, marinating, or cooking) ahead of time in order to make weeknights easier and more intuitive after a long day, but there is no perfect recipe. What does hold true, is that you probably need to do more organized prep than you’re doing now.
You might already be doing some meal prep, or this may be totally new to you! When we think of meal prep we often imagine hours and hours spent in the kitchen on our only day off, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Let’s talk where to put your energy for the most bang for your buck, how to get started, and how to streamline
If this is new to you, ask yourself these questions.
- How much time do I have to cook on weeknights?
- How much energy do I have to cook on weeknights?
- What days and times do I have a little bit of space to cook or prepare?
- Can I delegate some of the prep work to anyone else in the household?
If the answer to the first question was very little (or you have more than one super busy “fright” night), you definitely need to get ahead on prep.
Don’t dive into 6 full dinners all done at once if you’re just getting started. It will take forever and be overwhelming. Do try one or more of these below to start taking the pressure off during the week:
- Review your meal plan and chop veggies, fruits, or herbs when you get home from the store – especially for snacks and grab and go.
- When you’re chopping a veggie for a meal FINISH CHOPPING IT. Don’t leave a half pepper in the fridge when you could easily slice it for snacks without having to dirty extra knives or cutting boards. #downwithdishes This is the tip I benefit from the most.
- Pre-make salad dressing, sauces, or marinades for the week in one go
- Marinade chicken or other proteins when you get home before they go in the freezer. Set up a station with freezer bags, salad dressings or other marinades and get er’ done. When you need a last minute meal your tastebuds will thank you.
- Bag or portion snacks like nuts or trail mix individually before they make it into the cupboard.
Streamline Your Week
Once you’ve got a routine with a little healthy meal prep each week, save even more time and energy (and have fewer weeknight fails) by adding a layer on to your prep so you’re not cooking every night. Pick the meal you struggle with the most and start by getting that ready for the week. Once that feels good, start on the next one another week!
- Cook off proteins for lunches or last minute dinners all at once – roast or bbq a bunch of chicken (pull out a few different pre-marinated ones from above for some flavour variety), hard-boil a bunch of eggs for lunches, or make a giant frittata for breakfasts for the week.
- Mix up how you use these pre-cooked proteins by throwing them on salads, into pre-made (store-bought or home-made) soups, or chopped up into a wrap (lettuce or regular!) with a little dressing and whatever veggies you have in the fridge.
- Try pre portioning salads for lunch – greens and chopped veggies, sliced up proteins, and adding dressing the morning of.
- Freeze individual smoothie packs with frozen fruit, greens, and seeds! Just pull one out, add your protein powder/yogurt and liquid and you’re good to go.
- Play with preppable breakfasts or snacks like overnight oats, chia pudding, egg muffins, frittatas or homemade breakfast patties or hash!
- Plan at least one “batch cook” style recipe each week for lunches or last minute dinners. A healthy casserole, soup, stew, chili or sheet pan dinner lasts for days and can be spiced up or repurposed as the week goes on.
- Bonus points? Freeze a couple portions of each batch cooked meal for crazy weeks or when you’re not feeling well. Our motivation to cook usually slides as the cooler months roll around, let’s be prepared!
I’m challenging you to try one new healthy meal prep skill this week! If you missed it, we talked all about getting started with meal planning last week. Check it out here.
Need some help getting your meals for the week balanced and prepared? If you’d like to receive our free Meal Planning Getting Started Guide AND get in on our weekly emails about all things nutrition so you can get clarity and confidence on what you’re eating, join us here!