Posted on 02/09/2017 at 10:12 AM by Lia Bahls, RD
The idea of meal planning always seems great, but the follow through can seem to be lacking. Every time you come home after a long day, open the fridge and realize you have nothing ready to go, you tell yourself next week I’ll plan ahead. Then it’s next week and you find yourself looking in the fridge again hoping for something to be available. Does this sound like you?
Meal planning and prepping can be an overwhelming task if you’ve never done it before. It becomes easy to push it off to the side and tell yourself you’ll get to it later, but will you? By making a commitment to planning and preparing your meals ahead of time you are allowing for yourself to have quick healthy meals ready to go on those long days. You might also find that you have a little more money in your pocket due to planned grocery lists and decreased dining out.
Follow these steps to help you get started:
- Choose a day that you have adequate time to set aside for meal prepping. Consider blocking out 2-4 hours in your planner or calendar depending on what you are going to be making. Be consistent, this should be a weekly commitment. Add it to your online calendar and set reminders!
- Be prepared. Organize your fridge so you know what you have that needs to get used, what old leftovers need to get tossed, and make room for new items. Check that you have enough containers to store meals in for the week. Consider a food processor or other tools to speed up your cooking time. A spiralizer is great kitchen appliance for those who love pasta, but are trying to decrease their carbohydrate intake. Zucchini noodles anyone?
- Create your meal plan. Be aware that meal prepping means leftovers. Plain and simple. Make your week simple by prepping five days. Include breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as snacks if needed. Remember, healthy meals consistent of a protein, veggies, healthy fat and a small amount of starch. Use your meal plan to create your grocery list. Choose meals that you enjoy and are comfortable cooking. If you think you’ll have leftovers, utilize your freezer and make sure to prepare foods that can be frozen and reheated.
- Breakfast: Keep it simple. Try overnight oats, egg muffins, hard-boiled eggs, or Greek yogurt.
- Lunch and Dinner: Plan meals that use the same ingredients. This will decrease the amount of left over ingredients you have to use as well as save time when cooking.
- Have snacks that are quick and easy to grab. Think about your day; if you don’t often have time to run to a fridge choose snacks that are shelf stable such as beef jerky, protein balls and nuts.
- All you have left to do is get to work!
Pinterest is a great resource where you can find ideas for meals and download and print meal planning tools like printable weekly menus to fill in!