Do you want to eat more meals at home? Meal prepping can be useful to help you be prepared for meals and prevent ordering out for meals. Meal prepping can seem overwhelming and too much work. Learn about ways to make meal prepping easier and help you reach your health goals or eat more meals at home.
Meal prepping does require time to be set aside to help prepare you for the week. However, that time can look different from person to person. Maybe you only have 1 hour per week to focus on meal prepping, that is okay, you can complete a fair amount of prep in that time. The key is to find some form of prep that works for you and is sustainable week to week.
4 Tips to Help You Meal Prep with Ease
Tip #1: Make a plan
When deciding to meal plan, you should think about what is doable. Whether it is making all your meals for the week, prepping lunches in advance or even packaging snacks. Decide what will work best for you, and do not feel the need to make everything. The key is to focus on making small changes that you can continue to sustain.
The first step is to plan out what you plan to eat. This will not only help you plan out balanced meals but provide you with a guide when grocery shopping. The amount of food you purchase depends on how much food you plan on cooking at home for the week. Focus on the main food groups – protein, carbohydrate sources and produce. Select lean protein sources like chicken, fish, shellfish, ground turkey, lean ground beef, tofu, or eggs. When choosing carbohydrate sources aim for whole grains or starchy vegetables to increase fiber and help with satiety. Buying carbohydrate sources in bulk is a great way to save money and use it for multiple recipes. Some great carb options to buy in bulk include rice, whole wheat pasta or chickpea pasta, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beans. When planning out what produce to purchase, try to fill your cart with a wide variety of colors. Often, people think that fresh produce is best. Do not shy away from frozen or canned. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at the peak of harvest and frozen to preserve freshness. Frozen produce can allow you buy in bulk and not have to worry about going bad. If purchasing canned fruits and vegetables, opt for the no salt added or canned in water options to decrease sodium and added sugar intake. Both frozen and canned produce can increase the shelf life at home and reduce cost.
Take inventory of your pantry and refrigerator to see what items you may already have. This can help with not buying duplicates and save you money at the store. It can also help with planning out meals for the week.
Tip #2: Make time consistently
Setting a schedule for meal prepping can help you stay consistent. Once you set a routine day and time, keep with it. It can start off with something small like portioning snack options – popcorn, fruit, trail mix or veggies and hummus. Take the time to build on your meal prepping so it does not seem like an overwhelming feat. The key to success is to make the time and stay consistent.
Tip #3: Cut up what you can
Whether it is produce or protein, set out time for the upcoming week to cut up what you can. Chop all fruits and vegetables for recipes or snacks. Having the produce already prepared will help you utilize it before it goes bad and save time during the week when making meals. When you have fruits and vegetables prepped for snacks, you are also more likely to eat them. Sometimes putting your prepped produce where it is visible may help your eyes naturally gravitate towards it, resulting in an increase likelihood of you consuming.
Another great way to save time when preparing for the week is to cut up protein as able or cook in advance. Try cooking ground meat in advance can help save significant time by reheating or adding to recipes during the week. Trimming the fat off meat or cutting it into servings can help save time as well.
Tip #4: Package meals in advance
Packaging meals and snacks in advance can save time and increase the likelihood of you consuming the food you made. Sometimes people can find it helpful to pack all their meals in individual containers for the week. If you do not have the fridge space or desire to package all meals a week in advance, even packaging your lunch the night before work can help you stay on track and eat what was made.
Many people skip breakfast in the morning due to lack of time. Try meal prepping breakfast in advance by making overnight oats, hard boiled eggs or egg bites. Don’t make breakfast complicated. If making breakfast in the morning, keep it simple. Try avocado toast paired with eggs or peanut butter toast with sliced banana on top. If you want breakfast that is grab and go, try a protein shake with a piece of fruit or a Greek yogurt parfait w/ fruit and granola. Keeping it simple or prepping breakfast in advance can help save you time in the morning and start fueling you for the day.
Do you need assistance with meal planning? Book an appointment with a dietitian online or call a Nutrition coordinator at 919.237.1337 option 4 today! Avance Care offers nutrition counseling to fit your schedule. Call today to make an appointment.