I know how important meal prep can be, do you? I work 40 hours a week as a dietitian in a large hospital all while running a food blog on the side and I know MEAL PREP. I want to share my secrets with you! Meal prepping tips and ideas have become popular across social media. Food bloggers everywhere are posting their Sunday meal prep for the week, showcasing an entire week’s worth of meals and snacks. Truth be told, some of these images can make meal prep look daunting, especially if you have never tried it before. So here is how I can help you stay on target with YOUR health goals.
What is Your Meal Prep Schedule Like?
Currently, I take time on the weekend to prep my breakfast and lunches for the week. I have found that simple meals are best, so as to not feel overwhelmed and to eliminate spending hours cooking when you could be indulging in some self-care. I also know that eating the exact same breakfast and lunch five days in a row sounds boring, so I try to cook up a few items that can mix-and-match for variety. Here are my top tips for creating a delicious and easy meal prep to enjoy throughout the week:
Pick Foods That Can Be Made In Large Batches
I choose breakfast items such as oatmeal, pancakes, or a frittata. You can make these all in large quantities and split them up for the week. I also love making soup in the winter. Sometimes I double the batch and freeze half, which comes in handy down the road on a weekend where this is no time for me to meal prep.
Choose Recipes With Minimal Ingredients
Keep your recipes simple! Choose items such as a sheet pan dish where you can place vegetables and meat on one pan, tossing in the oven to bake. Meal prep does not have to be fancy- you can easily prepare your protein (think baked chicken or fish) and make a simple vegetable with brown rice on the side. Save more advanced recipes for when you truly have the time to devote to them!
Dedicate Time To Grocery Shop and Meal Prep
Making lists and planning out your weekend helps you meal prep successfully. I know when I am jam-packed on the weekends I schedule in time for grocery shopping and meal preparation so that I stick to it. Knowing how much time I actually have to dedicate also allows me to think of what I can make within that time frame so I don’t feel overwhelmed.
Keep Frozen Fruits and Vegetables on Hand
These are a lifesaver! Have you ever gone to the grocery store to find out they are out of whatever vegetable you needed for your meal? Having frozen items on hand can be great in cases like this! Frozen fruit can be heated in a pinch to top on oatmeal and frozen veggies are perfect for dinner when you don’t want to cook a big meal!
Buy Some Ready-Made Items For Meal Prep (seriously!)
While I emphasize that fresh ingredients are best (or frozen without additives), there are a lot of companies who make really great, minimal ingredient sauces or items that can save time in meal prep. I love adding sauce to most of my meals, but you will never find me making it from scratch unless I have the weekend free. It’s ok to buy packaged goods, just read the labels to make sure you are getting quality ingredients!
Have A Backup Meal Prep Plan
What I mean by this is have a plan when you will not have any time to prep. Going into the week without any meals made can lead to eating out more often- which is ok! Just have a plan on how to make healthier choices. For instance, when I don’t have my breakfast prepped, I usually pick up oatmeal from one of the local coffee shops instead of picking a donut. Lunch I will opt for a vegetable soup or salad. Planning ahead on what you want to purchase for meals is the healthy choice, as well as financially sound one, too!
In the end remember this- social media makes everything look way prettier and perfect than it actually is. If you have never meal prepped before, give it a shot. Start small with just preparing lunches and then gradually build from there. Some weeks you will feel like a rockstar and other weeks you might end up having no time to prep ahead. You are doing great either way!
About The Author
Melissa Bailey, registered dietitian
Currently I work full time as a clinical dietitian at a hospital in Philly, where I take care of liver transplant patients. Cooking is my stress relief after a long day at work and also my creative outlet. I am so excited to have you join me in this adventure! Xoxo Melissa