Food prepping is something that has helped me in my journey so much!! I like quick and easy…I’m not the kind of person that likes to spend a bunch of time cooking recipes for dinner each day. I’m also not a huge batch cooker…but I do love cutting veggies up for the week and having them prepared for when I’m ready to throw something together. I find that if it isn’t already washed, cut up and ready to go, I’m less inclined to have it.
Food prep will make it much easier to stick to eating the real, nutrient-dense foods that we need to live our healthiest lives so that we’re not tempted to go out to a restaurant or grab something quick and easy that isn’t as healthy as it should be. When you have your veggies cut up and waiting in the fridge, you’ll be more likely to eat them for a snack or lunch than if you had to prepare them every time. The easiest way to do this is to set aside a couple of hours once a week to clean, chop and store items that you can use quickly.
Even a little bit of food prep makes a difference
I used to think if I didn’t have hours to set aside for prepping my food then why bother? Obviously, that’s not the right approach to take! I know there are going to be weeks when my time is limited, so if I wait for the right time (or more time) then I would never get anything done. It’s important to make the most of the time you have and do what you can. It can be as simple as portioning out nuts and other food items for snacks, cutting up meats to be recipe-ready or going all out and cooking several meals for the week. Any amount of food prep is better than none at all!
One thing I have learned is that I always try to cook a little extra meat at dinner so that I have protein to go with my breakfast or use it as part of my lunch or snack for the next day. Making a pot of soup is another good way to have food ready that doesn’t take much time to prepare. You can start a pot of bone broth or cook soup while you are preparing your other vegetables for the week.
Another way that can help you save time, effort and stick to your healthy eating plan is to batch cook meals for the week. Once you’ve prepped your veggies and other food items, take it one step further and make several recipes for meals throughout the week. Choose recipes that have similar ingredients, or mix and match so you can double or triple the recipe. Once you’ve prepared the recipes, portion them out, so they’re ready to reheat. This is where meal-prep containers (glass ones, of course) become your new best friend! No more standing in front of the open fridge trying to decide what to eat – just grab your container and go!
Some suggestions to help you get started
- Roasted veggies: Add them to a breakfast scramble, then toss some into your lunch.
- Chicken: Bake a few chicken thighs to pair with a side of sautéed veggies and a baked sweet potato for dinner. Then add sliced chicken to veggies for lunch the next day.
- Hard-boiled eggs: While I think that soft-boiled eggs are better, having hard-boiled eggs on hand for a quick protein boost in the afternoon is quick and easy.
- Bone Broth: Make this once a week and store in glass jars for use in soups, stews, and for drinking with breakfast instead of coffee. If you really want to get ahead, make two batches at the same time and freeze one of them.
- Meat Patties: Make a batch or two once a week and freeze patties between slices of waxed paper. You can make a few different kinds. Homemade meat patties are the fastest protein for breakfast – just reheat them gently in a skillet. You can also use them for a quick meal or a snack if you run short of other options.
- Soups/Stews: When making a soup or stew, it’s a great idea to double the recipe and freeze half of it in portion-size containers. Then you can pull one out to thaw overnight for lunch at work or a quick meal.
Using an Instant Pot
Here’s a time-saving tool that I think everybody needs, called Instant Pot. It’s a programmable electric pressure cooker that makes cooking two to six times faster than typical methods. For example, bone broth, which usually takes 24 hours on the stove or even in a crock pot, can be finished in just 2 hours in the Instant Pot. It can sautee, pressure cook, slow cook, make yogurt, serve as a rice cooker and make bone broth.
Forget to take meat out of the freezer to thaw? Not a problem, Instant Pot can cook frozen meat just as easily as if it was thawed out. Once you’ve programmed how long to cook, it will shut itself off and keep the food warm for up to 10 hours. You can even cook in glass bowls, then store them in the fridge for lunch or dinner the next day.
It cuts down on dishwashing by doing several steps in one pot, so that saves you even more time in the kitchen. Seriously…it’s life changing and when you’re trying to follow a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, you can spend a LOT of time cooking. Anything that saves time in the kitchen is a lifesaver.
There is no right or wrong way to food prep
However you choose to do food prep, there’s really is no right or wrong way to do it. Basically, it comes down to just making time and getting it done. My favorite day is Sunday!! That way I’m prepared for the week ahead.
I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything… at least not at the same time. So think of your priorities, not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything. – Dan Millman
Meal preparation can seem intimidating at first, but once you make it a habit and part of your healthy life, it will be so worth it. Like so many other things, to be sustainable, it needs to fit into your lifestyle. Basically, this means do what works for you. If the only thing you want to prep each week is washing and cutting up veggies, that’s fine. Or maybe prep a couple slow cooker kits.
Do whatever will meet YOUR needs and help you maintain a healthy eating plan. Don’t get caught up in thinking it has to be done a certain way. What works for me might not work for you, but I wanted to share some of the strategies and tips I have learned along the way in hopes that you will take and adapt them to fit into your lifestyle.