How to make meal planning a sustainable and efficient process. A guide for those who don’t want to spend their entire Sunday in a kitchen.
Do you want to start meal prepping but feel overwhelmed? Do you get really into planning meals for a few weeks then fall off track? Welcome to the club. Staying on top of meal prepping can be difficult, especially after a busy weekend. I’ve created some simple steps to fast track your meal prep so you can enjoy your weekend and still have food for your upcoming week!
1. Choose your food prep day and time.
Choosing the same day of the week each week for both your shopping and cooking will help. This doesn’t have to be a Sunday or even on the weekend, whatever day works best for you. The more important part of this step is to choose a time. One of the reasons we sometimes skip meal prepping is because we don’t have the motivation or time to spend a whole day in the kitchen making food- it sounds daunting. Set aside 1-2 hours at the beginning or end of the day to get stuff ready, that’s usually all you need. Try to keep the same time so it becomes a habit.
2. Be realistic about the food you will and won’t eat.
There’s nothing worse than spending a ton of money on a lot of healthy ingredients and hours prepping food, then throwing out food you didn’t eat at the end of the week. Be real with yourself and what you will and won’t eat. Don’t make yourself spinach salad for every lunch of the week; come Friday, you will not like your Sunday self.
3. Shop efficiently.
Decide what you are going to make before you go the grocery store so you have a list in hand. Try to choose ingredients that can work for multiple meals. This will make your groceries less expensive, decrease your food waste and save you time throughout the day by using leftovers of one meal for another. Example: make a roasted chicken then do chicken Cesar salad wraps the next day, roast veggies with your chicken then turn the leftovers into a soup then next night.
4. Look at the upcoming week.
Look at what events and work schedule you have to determine which meals you want to cook at home, how many pre-made lunches you need and when you won’t be home for dinner. This will help reduce your waste and decrease decisions that need to be made during a busy week.
5. Have a theme or category for every night of the week
Taco Tuesday anyone? Having a category for each night makes the planning step much faster. It is also helpful from a nutritional point of view. If you know you should consume approximately 2 servings of fatty fish per week (you should!) then make Monday’s and Thursday’s fish nights or days. Switch up what you do each week so you don’t get bored but it’s narrowed down for you at least.
6. Make less meals.
You don’t need to prep something different for each night. Make a big dinner one night then have leftovers planned for your lunch the next day or night.
7. Wash and prep all produce at once.
When you get home from the store, let your produce soak in a big bowl of cold water and apple cider vinegar (1 tsp) for about 15 mins while you organize everything. Then rinse them and prep the veggies in a container so they are ready for the week. Wrap your kale/lettuce in paper towel to keep it fresh in the fridge.
8. Consider the shelf life of your foods.
Don’t put your salads or fresh foods completely together, especially if prepping for the entire week. No one wants to eat a 5-day old salad.
9. Invest in a crockpot or instant pot.
One of the easiest ways to prep a lot of food at once without thinking about it.
10. Don’t worry about having everything prepped.
Having just one meal prepped can be helpful or even a plan for your week can save time and decision fatigue.
Hope that helps! As always, let me know if you have any questions.
Yours in Health,