You want to eat healthier, but you’re super-busy.
You eat out several times a week because that’s what you have to do. When it comes to time and convenience, that’s what works for you and your family.
When it comes to your health and energy levels… That isn’t going as great, is it?
You want to eat better. You want more energy. You want that state of vibrant health you keep hearing about. But you also need to save time.
I get it. And I’m here to help!
I was once in your shoes. You know, trying to figure out how to make healthy eating work for me. Over the years, I created a simple strategy that I’m going to share with you today. It’ll help you plan and prepare better meals for a whole week at a time. Batching is the way to go!
Now, before we dive in, here’s a disclaimer: You don’t need to abandon eating out altogether. I’m sure some of those meals have turned into traditions that you genuinely enjoy. You can use this strategy to help you eat out one or two times fewer per week. Or more, if you’d like. It’s all up to you.
As with all lifestyle changes, 1) it’s about balance, and 2) you need to start gradually, so you’re able to build consistency. They key here is to make it easy, doable, and rewarding enough that you want to do it again and again.
Alright, now that’s out of the way. Let me walk you through my simple meal prep system and how it can work for you too.
Planning a Week's Worth of Meals
I like doing this on the weekend. I’ll flip through my recipes (I’ve been saving my favorites using my phone) and choose a bunch to make for the week. If you’ll feeling overly ambitious, go ahead and pick which days to have which meals, but that’s not necessarily. I rarely do that myself.
Next, I write my chosen recipes down in a notebook or even a sheet of paper to put on my fridge. I like to have at least one crock pot meal each week because they’re super simple. Chop some stuff in the morning, throw it in the crockpot, and dinner is ready and waiting when you get home. Doesn’t get any easier than that!
I have some more tips for picking recipes in this post. Make sure to take a look, because you don’t want to overthink this step. Keep it simple. Don’t pick very complicated recipes or recipes that require a lot of ingredients. That is something you’ll be doing every week. It’s fun to cook something a little more advanced now and then, but don’t make that the norm.
Time for Grocery Shopping
Finally, I’ll create a grocery list. I take a quick look in my fridge, freezer, and pantry, and list any ingredients that I need to buy. Quick notes about that:
- If you’re not sure you have enough of an ingredient, add it to the list, so you have a “backup” just in case.
- Consider doubling your recipes, so you can prep and cook once, but have twice the meal at the end. Extras can be taken for lunch, or frozen to pull out the night before a busy day. And don’t forget: double the recipe, double your grocery list!
- If you’re not a fan of washing and chopping produce, then consider buying them already pre-washed and pre-chopped, or even frozen. You can make your meal prep even easier if you don’t mind spending a couple of extra bucks.
Once you have your handy-dandy grocery list ready, do a quick grocery run to pick up your essentials. That can be pretty quick if you stick to your list. Also, if you don’t have enough food storage containers for your meals, now’s the time to pick up some of those too.
Prepping a Week's Worth of Meals
Alright! So now you’ve chosen your recipes and gotten your groceries. Time to get started on prepping.
I like to book 2-3 hours one afternoon for this. Sundays tend to be a little slower around here, so that’s when I get my meal prepping done. Get your recipes handy and clear off your counter. Go the extra mile, and listen to something fun. I love catching up with my favorite podcasts during this time.
At this point, depending on time and recipes, I’ll either prep the ingredients, or pre-cook the entire meal. Sometimes just washing and chopping produce and putting it in containers is a huge time-saver for weeknights.
Another alternative is to make a whole meal and refrigerate or freeze. I’m a huge fan of that option, but it’s really up to you. In the end, the more you do now, the less you’ll have to do when you’re hungry.
Bonus Tip: Grab and Go Breakfasts
There is one meal that is easiest to plan and prepare in advance. It’s one that’s also often the most difficult to eat at home if you’re busy.
Please, please, please. Don’t skip breakfast. That’s a tremendous disservice to your metabolism and a very efficient way to throw your appetite out of whack.
Here's one idea to get you started: overnight oatmeal is an excellent start to any day. Place ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup your choice of milk, 1 tbsp chia or flax seeds into a container (or make five for the whole week!). Then put the lid on, shake them up and set them in your fridge. In the morning you can quickly heat them up or even eat them cold (the oats will have absorbed the milk). Top with berries, chopped fruit, nuts or seeds and enjoy.
Over to you
With a little planning, you can boost your energy levels and do a lot for your health. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you don’t need to plan every little thing you’ll be eating. Planning and prepping some of your meals will already go a long way.
Creating a habit of meal planning can take some getting used to, and you will probably want to tweak my system to work on your routine. Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works best for you. Remember: I’m always one comment away if you want help brainstorming ideas and recipes.
To help you get started, here are seven of my favorite recipes. I love them because they're super simple and only require seven ingredients or less:
Join the Conversation
One more thing, if you want to hang out with me and other smart women determined to feel and do their best, make sure to join the Food Freedom Tribe, our free Facebook group.