Failure to plan is planning to fail.
I’ve bet you’ve heard this statement before…and its true. Food preparation is key, especially when it comes to nutrition and achieving your goals. Often times people will say ‘I don’t have time’, or ‘I don’t know how to food prep.’ Yet, proper food prep is critical because when it comes to eating healthy on-the-go, it can be very difficult to stay on track and meet your goals.
Here are some tips that will help save you time (and calories) throughout the week. All you need to do is carve out an hour to prep your food for 2-3 days.
1st – Make a plan & follow the list!
Look up some recipes you want to make for the week and create your grocery list so you ensure you have all ingredients AND that you don’t over buy. Deviating from the shopping list will only tempt you to purchase items you don’t need or that are not good for you which quickly racks up extra calories.
2nd – Set 60 – 90 min aside and batch cook!
Cook all your meat at once and season it different ways to avoid getting bored. For example, if you are cooking chicken for the week, make a variety of 3-4 different flavors for different recipes. A few of my favorites are Fajita for lettuce wraps or taco salad, BBQ chicken for salad or pulled BBQ chicken, and Caesar chicken for salads or a refreshing wrap. Additionally, if you are cooking a variety of meats for the week such as chicken and steak, fire up the grill for quicker cooking and roast some veggies while you’re at it.
Roasting vegetables is a great way to bring out their natural sweetness, but can be time-consuming. Make a veggie kabob to toss on the grill or toss a few kinds of veggies on a pan and roast them in the oven. Fast-cooking vegetables that can bake in the same pan include asparagus, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes; slow-roasting vegetables include carrots, cauliflower, onions, sweet potatoes and parsnips.
Cut up veggies and fruit ahead of time. Get a box of snack bags and slice cucumbers/ bell peppers for dipping or simply separate your carrots and snap peas into portions you can grab and go. Make sure you watch your fruit portions and stick to 1-2 servings, as fruit can be high in sugar. I eat mostly berries as they are high in fiber, keep me full longer, and are sweet enough to keep me away from the M&M jar.
Portion control your snacks. Guard against overeating by portioning out nuts, pretzels, veggies, dips, and nut butters into plastic bags or Tupperware. It’s easy to mindlessly munch when you’ve got an entire bag or container available so having the right portions ready to go for lunch or a snack will keep you from over eating.
Pre-prep your smoothies to start the day off right. Save yourself time and unnecessary calories by pre-prepping and freezing your smoothie ingredients. Measuring out your berries, greens, and flax or chia seeds ahead of time will make it quick and easy to toss in the blender. OR, you can pre make and freeze your smoothies. Simply prepare your smoothie as you would in the morning, and divvy into muffin tins and freeze (I recommend covering the muffin tin to avoid freezer burn). Then, when you are ready to go, just pop 2-3 smoothie tins into a cup and walah! These are also great if you plan to drink your smoothie as a mid morning snack as it has time to thaw out a bit.
Use the tins! You can practically make anything in the muffin tins from mini zucchini lasagnas to oatmeal bake to avocado brownies! My favorite is egg muffins as you can make them hundreds of ways…in fact, you can make them 12 different ways in one pan! I typically make eggs with protein such as bacon or sausage for breakfast, or for a lighter option I mix egg whites with veggies. See my staple recipe here for more information. Tip: you can also throw in some quinoa and cheese to keep you full longer. Trick: Did you know that you can make ‘hard boiled’ eggs in the muffin tins?! Yep! No need to boil water! Simply bake the eggs for 30 minutes at ~350 (temperature will vary by oven, start at 325 depending on how your oven cooks), and then soak the eggs in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes.
3rd – Eat what you cook 🙂
So many people waste food because they either don’t like what they made, fall into the trap of going out to eat for lunch with friends or stop at the drive-thru, all of which negate the purpose of food prep. This is why Step 1 is so important – pick a few recipes you will like!
If you’re not a fan of leftovers, prep a few dinners that you can throw in the oven or skillet mid week. I will be the first to say, I prefer meals that can be kept well for leftovers but I don’t like leftovers more than once. So, I make a few different meals for lunch and prep a couple dinners that I can easily toss in the crockpot, skillet, oven or grill during the week.
You are now equipped to start successfully food prepping… Remember nutrition is the key component to living a healthy lifestyle!