Transform your hectic life and save time with smart meal planning and prepping
Are you tired of the daily struggle trying to balance a busy schedule with the desire to eat healthily? You're not alone. The challenge of finding time to prepare nutritious meals amidst a jam-packed day is real, but you can do it! The key is meal prepping – and the first step in meal prepping is meal planning. Take a deep breath and dive in so you can start to lead a healthier lifestyle with less stress.
Staring at an empty weekly or monthly calendar can be overwhelming. Planning 21 meals at one time? Close to 100 for the month?! You’ll be over it before you even start. So give yourself a break and start small. Choose something specific and contained – maybe it’s planning your work lunches so you aren’t running out to grab something at the spur of the moment every day. Or focusing on your dinners so you don’t have to make decisions about what to eat after a long day that feels like it’s used up all your brain power. You can always work your way up to planning all your meals!
Plan around your schedule
Before you start planning, take a look at your schedule. You don’t want to plan (and shop for!) dinners all week if you have events scheduled every other night. Plan around your schedule so you are prepared when you need to be, but not wasting food by preparing for meals you’ll never have a chance to eat.
Focus on variety
Include a variety of proteins, veggies and carbs. This helps you keep things interesting as well as making sure you have all of your nutritional bases covered. If you're looking to make big changes, consider talking to a nutritionist or your doctor for guidance on what goals you should be keeping in mind and what foods will help you get there.
Incorporate different cooking methods
Once you've planned your meals, you can turn to cooking your meals. And this is where meal prepping comes into play. Setting aside some time to knock out a bunch of meals for the week, or components of meals that you can easily put together when you're ready to eat, will be a game changer.
When planning what you want to cook for the week, look for recipes that utilize different cooking methods. That way you can do them all at the same time for max efficiency! For example, if you have a slow cooker, an oven and a stovetop, think about doing a chili, an egg bake and a stir fry to help you get through the week.
- Start your oven preheating
- Get the ingredients for the chili into the slow cooker
- Compile your egg bake and get it in the oven
- Focus on your stovetop stir fry while your other meals cook themselves
Plan for your freezer
One of the tricky things about meal prepping is it can get monotonous when you make big batches of a few things. When you make a slow cooker full of chili, you might get sick of chili by the end of the week! When you’re planning what to cook, pick at least one recipe that freezes well. Plan to make extra of that recipe to put in the freezer and help keep future weeks varied.
Stay flexible and forgiving
Understand that some weeks will be smoother than others, and it's okay to deviate from the plan sometimes. The key is a sustainable habit, not perfection. Get in the groove of planning your meals and you’ll develop your personalized strategy to make healthier eating fit seamlessly into your busy lifestyle. Start small, consider your schedule, and maximize efficiency. This is about making your life easier and your health better, one meal at a time.