Guest post by naturallystephanie.ca
So many health and wellness experts agree that meal prep is one of the best things you can do for your health. I’ve also found it to be one of hardest and most perplexing habits to start! Which is why I’m so thrilled to be welcoming Stephanie to the site today. She makes healthy meal prep look like a walk in the park, and I’m so excited for her to share her ways. Take it away, Stephanie!
Most of us understand the importance of nutrition in leading a happy, healthy and productive life, but it’s often one of the first things to fall to the wayside when we’re caught up in the responsibilities of our days. After all, there’s that conference to attend, soccer practice to make, a birthday dinner to plan, appointments to schedule and a report to finish – not to mention making time for ourselves.
This month in particular, when we’re returning from vacations or a relaxed summer schedule and heading back into the office or classroom, it can be tough to keep our diets in check. But now’s the perfect time to establish a good routine when it comes to our eating habits because September is like another fresh start, and our schedules are already changing. As happiness researcher and writer Gretchen Rubin says, “September is the other January.”
This is where meal prep comes in. Preparing food in advance means healthy meals to go or to pack up for full days ahead, ensuring you’re getting quality fuel and alleviating stress throughout the demanding week to come. Just think of the energy you’ll save not having to run around, brainstorm about what to cook, and make multiple trips to the store (or worse, the drive-through!) from Monday through Friday.
But it can be daunting to know where to start. Sure, it looks great on Instagram – where the hashtag #mealprep has millions of uses – and seems doable in those quick videos on our Facebook feeds. However, it’s often tricky enough finding nutritious, quick meals to make for dinner each night, let alone for each meal in a week.
No one says you have to create elaborate menus; an easy and complete grocery list can prepare you with the ingredients you need to come up with a satisfying but simple plan. Carving out some time on Sunday afternoon can be what it takes to set yourself up for success for the week ahead.
Here are some ideas and a sample meal plan to inspire your inner meal-planning maven. Remember: if you keep good food in your fridge, you’ll eat good food – especially if it’s already prepared!
The most important meal of the day. It’s so nice to wake up knowing you have something tasty awaiting you in the fridge, ideally complete with protein, healthy fats and plenty of vitamins.
- Egg breakfast cups (Recipe: Buzzfeed; use any combination of fillings, like broccoli and feta)
- 6-Ingredient Apple-Oatmeal Muffins
- Steel-cut oats (Recipe: Cookie & Kate; top with nut butter, fruit, coconut and/or seeds)
- Homemade granola with unsweetened nut milk
Create a shelf or basket in your fridge for healthy snacks to grab and go
- Plain Greek yogurt and berries
- Dry-roasted almonds
- Vegetables and hummus
- Cocoa-Nutty Energy Bites
Lunch and Dinner
I love bowl meals filled with fresh and nutritious ingredients that can be repurposed into delicious wraps or salads
- Taco bowls/lettuce wraps
- Rainbow veggie Buddha bowls/salads
- Chicken Greek salad/gyros
- Bento boxes
Sample Meal Plan
Grocery shop on Sunday, buying fresh produce and stocking your pantry with the necessary grains and other items, like olive or coconut oil for greasing muffin tins, roasting and sautéing. Wash and chop all the produce and store raw, chopped vegetables in bags or containers in the crisper to pull out and pair with protein and grains throughout the week.
For the Buddha bowls, rinse and drain the beans and chickpeas and cook grains according to package instructions. Roast chickpeas and vegetables of choice. Finally, portion glass containers with a grain, chickpeas/black beans, vegetables and top with avocado slices or sprouts and your favorite olive oil-based dressing.
Of course, when preparing food ahead of time, it’s important to keep in mind food safety top-of-mind and ensure your carefully crafted meals don’t spoil.
You’re now well on the way to being organized and staying on track with your health goals – saving you valuable money and time to spend on, and with, the people and experiences you love!
Stephanie is the writer behind NaturallyStephanie.ca, a blog devoted to whole, healthy living. She focuses on refined sugar-free recipes and wellness inspiration for living a healthy, happy life. Check out @naturallystephanie.ca on Instagram for a daily dose of delicious!
Note: always consult a healthcare professional for diet- or health-related matters.