The term meal prepping has a lot of buzz around it yet most people don’t understand what it means to meal prep. It can be different for everyone, some people spend their entire Sunday in the kitchen cooking meals and portioning them out for the rest of the week, others spend time each morning preparing their meals for the rest of the day. For us, it means taking time to set yourself up for success when life gets in the way so you can keep up with your healthy eating habits.
A typical Sunday afternoon in my house is spent washing produce, cooking beans, or preparing proteins like chicken, fish, or grass fed beef. My version of meal prepping is having everything washed, cut, seasoned, and ready to grab and go or grab and cook. For example, today I came home for lunch and was in a hurry so I got out some of my precut veggies (tomatoes, onions, and peppers) sautéed them in a pan with avocado oil and scrambled some eggs with them to create a healthy veggie scramble… then of course, I topped it off with some avocado.
When my produce is already washed it’s as simple as reaching into my refrigerator and pulling out an apple or an orange and adding it to my lunch or just eating it as a snack. I’ve found out that if I don’t wash all of my produce in advance, then when I’m in a hurry I will just reach for something else that’s already cooked and then my body misses out on the vitamins and minerals it needs from the fruits and vegetables I should be eating.
I’ll often prepare a big pot of black beans or lentils, I’m talking several bags worth of beans, so that I can portion out a big bowl for the rest of the week and then portion out the remaining beans into smaller containers that I can put in the freezer. That way they don’t go bad and I can pull them out of the freezer the night before and have them for lunch or dinner the next day. The real benefit is that I don’t have to make beans every week, if I’m going to spend the time making a pot of beans I might as well triple the recipe so that I can have enough leftovers to eat in the coming weeks and then when my stock in the freezer is running low I know it’s time to make another big batch.
Simply having the “staples” ready to go can help me continue making healthy eating choices when I am in a hurry and don’t have time to cook an entire meal from start to finish- in those cases it would be easier to roll through a drive through and pick something up that’s ready to eat. However, through past experiences, it may be easier in the moment but I’ve found that it’s harder in the long run because I don’t have any energy to get me through my day, I start having digestive issues, or I make myself sick because my immune system doesn’t have the nutrients it needs to keep me well.
So for us, meal prepping doesn’t mean we have all of our meals prepared for the entire week but it does allow us to prepare enough food to create healthy meals throughout the week. We wash all of our fruits and vegetables, we even precut the veggies we like to cook with, we prepare beans or lentils in bulk, and we cook our proteins for the week. Taking these steps allows us to eat well balanced meals everyday, for lunch I can take some chicken that is already cooked and chop it up and add it to a salad that I made from my washed and ready to eat produce, or I can sauté some pre cut veggies and add them to my already cooked beef. Eating healthy in our culture is already hard enough, don’t make it harder on yourself by overcomplicating your meal prep, keep it simple and sustainable by preparing food that you can eat a lot of different ways while still making it a healthy meal.