There’s no shortage of glitzy, colorful, meticulous meal prep photos across Pinterest and Instagram. They’re beautiful, but they can also be misleading and disheartening. It takes time and a whole lot of money to create that much variety. And, this sort of prep isn’t always doable for anyone with a busy schedule and tight budget.
Money and time are the two biggest excuses I’ve heard when it comes to not creating healthier habits. And they may sound perfectly legitimate in your head when you haven’t been exposed to other options. Cue my dramatic entrance.
When you become a Life in Spandex member, I show you how to prep meals step-by-step in the Eat Guide. But until it’s released, I didn’t want to leave you hanging. I’m sharing 5 little tidbits that will turn you into a meal prep freak like myself.
1. Start small.
You had to learn addition before multiplication and walking before running, so why would you start by prepping all your meals for the week? Choose the meals that occur during the busiest times of your day (mine are breakfast, lunch, and snacks while I’m at work) and start with prepping those for 3 to 4 days. The busiest times of your day are the times when you’re more likely to choose unhealthy options or end up skipping meals (which we all know does not help progress).
2. Repeat meals.
Choose between 1 to 2 breakfast, lunch, and dinner variations and repeat them throughout the week. You can buy groceries in bulk to save money and you don’t have to worry about spending half a day in the kitchen making 5+ different recipes. I would never want you to feel bored with your food, so it’s important to make meals you really like and rotate them week to week. But, is it really necessary to eat something completely different for lunch every single day? If it is, you can easily make simple changes to a base meal to give it new flavor for each day – i.e. adding different veggie and nut toppings to each salad or swapping avocado for hummus in your sandwich.
3. Chop it, peel it, store it.
I HATE food waste. The easiest way to avoid it, is to prep it. We tend to reach for whatever is most convenient after a busy day. Healthier options that take a bit more work tend to get shoved to the bottom of the fresh drawers. We forget about them until 7 days later when they’re soggy and need to be thrown out. That’s money down the drain! Make those healthy options the most convenient. Chop up your lean protein, fruits, and veggies so it’s ready to be added to tomorrow’s lunch, last minute meals, or eaten as a snack after school or work.
4. The oven is your ride or die.
The most passive way to prep delicious food is in your oven. You turn it on, fill it up, and wait. The more you can cook at one time (choose foods that can cook at a similar temperature), the quicker you’re meal prep will go. I love baking chicken, sweet potato, protein muffins, breakfast casseroles, and roasting veggies all of which bake between 375 and 425 degrees F.
5. Season like a #bossbabe.
Healthy does not have to lack in flavor. In fact, I think fresh, whole food packs the most pizazz. You can give your simple meal prep more variety with your seasonings . I love to season one pan of chicken with turmeric, cumin, paprika, and garlic powder for a Middle East flavor and another with rosemary, oregano, sea salt, garlic, and pepper for a more subtle but delicious flavor.
Do you like to meal prep? How do you save time and money? Tell me in the comment box below!
Health and happiness,