I’m a huge fan of meal prep. As a registered nurse, it saves a lot of time and energy on my work days and helps keep me on track. I know if I don’t have my dinner prepped for after a long shift, I’ll come home and binge on anything I can find in the house. It also saves me a lot of money at work. A majority of the nurses order their lunches or buy food in the cafeteria. I prefer to just bring my own food and splurge on a nice meal on one of my days off from work instead.
Meal prep doesn’t always mean making every single meal ahead of time. You can just cook up a few staples to have ready throughout the week! Right now I usually just prep up one big batch of a recipe and some roasted veggies to have on hand during the week.
Meal prep can also be a great way to maintain health-and-fitness goals because it gives you greater control over meal choices and the way in which the food is prepared!
Before you start meal prepping, there are a few things you should consider:
Do you want to prepare full meals ahead of time or just the ingredients to make cooking easier during the week?
Do you want to try new recipes or stick with your current favorites?
Do you want to have a variety in your meals from day to day or stick with the same meals throughout the week?
Do you want to prepare food for the full week or just a few days?
Do you want to prepare all 3 meals or just dinner?
STEPS TO MEAL PREP:
1. Invest in the right equipment and tools for meal prep.
Basic kitchen tools and time saving appliances to make process more efficient:
knives, spoons, veggie spirilizer, mixing bowls, food storage containers, mason jars, freezer bags, aluminum foil, food processor, baking sheets, skillet, saucepan, crockpot, air fryer.
2. Make a list of what you plan on preparing for the week. Decide on the menu for the week and make a list of the ingredients that will be required. As I mentioned earlier, this will depend on if you want to meal prep whole recipes or batches of staple items (2 or 3 proteins, starches, and veggies).
One benefit to choosing staple items over full meals is that you have more variety in what you eat throughout the week! You can either eat the same thing on repeat if that doesn’t bother you OR you can combine the components in other ways to make different meals!
If you need recipe or meal inspiration- Pinterest, Instagram, Google and healthy living blogs are great ways to search for recipes. You can start a Pinterest board to save recipes you want to try or screenshot them on your phone.
3. Grab your list and head to the grocery store! Before you head out though- check your freezer and pantry to see what you already have on hand so you don’t end up spending money on unnecessary items at the store.
4. If you haven’t done so- stock your pantry with cooking staples. Having some of the below ingredients available at any time will help make meal prep easier, and so many of these ingredients are used over and over again.
- Coconut oil, olive oil
- nonstick cooking spray
- Dried pasta
- Rice, quinoa
- Chia seeds
- Rolled oats
- Nut butter
- Canned tomatoes
- Vinegars: balsamic, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper
- maple syrup
- Basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, paprika, chili pepper, garlic powder, cumin, crushed red pepper, everything but the bagel seasoning (Trader Joe’s)
- Hot sauce/ sriracha
- Bread (OK to freeze)
5. Schedule a few hours to meal prep. Minimize distractions while cooking and make it enjoyable! Put on your favorite playlist or podcast!
Break up your meal prep if you have to! If you find that most of your meals or recipes require the oven then maybe chop up all your veggies ahead of time so you can dedicate another time to just cooking! When I worked in the hospital I would break up my meal prep on my weekends off. Saturdays I would prep everything for lunches and dinner and Sundays I would prepare my breakfasts for work.
MEAL PREP TIPS:
- If using or trying new recipes, limit to 2 or 3. new ones Trying several new recipes as part of meal prep can become complicated due to the time commitment and the need for all the ingredients. 2 to 3 are more manageable!
- Decide on which protein sources, carbohydrates (vegetables and grains), and healthy fats will form the base of most meals during the week.
Turkey burger with avocado, roasted sweet potato, and Brussel sprouts – well balanced with protein, healthy fats, and carbs!
- Here are some of my favorite recipes to meal prep:
– Banana Bread Overnight Oats
– Blueberry Pie Protein Waffles
– Turkey Quinoa Chili
– Unstuffed Bell Pepper Skillet
– Sweet Potato Fries
– Coconut Almond Cashew Protein Balls
– Simple Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Double one of your recipes- If you’re making something like soup or chili then double the recipe and put half of in the freezer for later. It’s a great way to make sure you have food on hand for busy weeks when you don’t have time to prep.
Hope these meal prep tips help!! Please reach out on Instagram or email me if you have any questions.