By now you’ve probably heard 384 people say, “meal prep is a key component for success”. While I used to roll my eyes at them, I finally realized its true. Meal prep really is crucial when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Prior to having children, going out to dinner or stopping to pick up items for dinner was so easy. Fast forward 3 years and even the thought of dragging their cute little hiney’s into the store at night makes me cringe. Have you ever tried walking through the grocery store with an baby that is ready to rumble at any second and a toddler who doesn’t realize donuts are not part of the food pyramid? Well, those two elements combined are enough, throw in the toddler negotiations and I’d be better off trying to talk my way into Fort Knox. Therefore, meal prep became part of my Saturday and Sunday routine. Learn from my mistakes and just listen to everyone.
On Saturdays my husband and I talk about various lunches and dinners we’d like to have that week. To be fair, I choose a meal then he does. We aim for 6 dinners, knowing we will either enjoy one meal out a week. After coming up with the items, we make a list of everything we will need to make it all. Now sometimes we will swap meals out to make sure ingredients won’t go to waste. This takes a little time to perfect, but I can say we’re actually using everything we purchase each week.
On Saturday evenings or early Sunday mornings, I go grocery shopping. Alone. *Insert celebration music*. In an ideal world Saturday evenings would be my choice day, but life happens and grocery shopping doesn’t always happen. Then on Sunday’s I tackle the meal prep. During our littlest ones first nap I chop, package, mix, and cook anything I can for the week. If we plan on having fajitas, I will chop all the veggies and place them in a ziploc or I will prep the seasoning needed for our chicken and place that in a container. Anything I can do to make the weeknights easier. It sounds silly, but it helps and saves SO much time after a long day at work. To just open the fridge and start cooking instead of slicing and mixing, you actually save between 10-15 minutes right there. This manual food processor has saved me so much time, I’m obsessed.
Next up, during lunchtime on Sunday’s I cook our lunches for the week. We love chicken, so I typically cook chicken on the stovetop in various seasonings. Some weeks we use Chinese inspiration and other weeks Greek flavors. By changing how the chicken tastes each week, it keeps us from getting bored. Another trick is to change what you serve it with. We alternate between rice or quinoa with steamed veggies or fresh vegetables and fruit.
After prepping lunches, it’s time to actually portion them out. As silly as it sounds, I purchased meal prep containers on Amazon and it makes me happy to see these filled and stacked neatly in the fridge. Plus, it makes me feel like we’re legit in our mission to be healthy because they look so official.
By planning and prepping, our family has been able to save in so many ways. My husband was eating out or going to the gas station and spending at least $15 a day before we started this. Now, he doesn’t go at all which means we’re saving money. We are also saving calories because when eating out portions are generally larger and contain at least 200 more calories per meal.
So, if you’re trying to find motivation for meal prep here are some suggestions…
- Choose meals ahead of time.
- Organize a shopping list AND stick to the list.
- Make time to prep meals when you have free time.
- Try new recipes so you’re not getting bored.
- Invest in some containers, it really does make a difference.
If you’re new to this idea, don’t give up. It takes 21 days for a routine to stick and this is worth it. So, get out there and become a meal preppin’ machine.