Back to articles

Becoming a lean, mean, meal-prepping machine

Fitness, Body

Every year, one of the most popular goals is to embrace a healthier lifestyle by eating well. However, as winter rolls to spring, and spring rolls into summer, we get busier and busier, making it difficult to stick to our New Year’s resolutions. It’s easy to give up our goals, particularly when we are overloaded at work, running kids to practices or taking care of senior loved ones. The lure of a convenient drive-thru meal is an ever-present temptation, particularly if there’s nothing else planned for lunch or dinner!

While you’ve no doubt heard of meal prepping, it remains one of the most effective tactics to ensure we are nourishing our bodies with food that is healthy — not just convenient. But where to begin? We’ve outlined a few tricks of the meal prep trade to make the transition a little easier!

  • Leftovers are your friend: Chances are, you will cook dinner at least one time this week — even if you don’t plan to! While you’re cooking, prepare extra leftovers on purpose to set aside for the rest of the week. Making chicken? Buy an extra pack and fix it alongside that night’s dinner. If you have a day that’s less busy, you can also block off a few hours to prepare several meals to eat throughout the upcoming week or to freeze for later.
  • Load your arsenal: There’s nothing wrong with having a handful of go-to recipes at your disposal. You may not have thought about it, but there’s probably a few meals you can continually rotate through. Take a few minutes to write each on a notecard. Sometimes it’s difficult to think of your favorites on command, but it’s easy to flip through a notecard bundle when you’re trying to plan meals for the week.
  • Combine meal planning and grocery shopping: While you’re prepping your meals for the week, write down any ingredients that you may need to buy at the store and pick them up in one effective swoop (be sure to check what you have on hand and in the freezer before buying more). Making meals for the week becomes far easier when you know you have the groceries you need!
  • Consider the calendar: As you’re determining what meals to prepare when, take a peek at the family calendar. If there are any evenings that you know will be busy, don’t plan to make an elaborate, time-consuming meal or new recipe. Cut the stress by fixing a tried-and-true meal that you can make in the time that’s available.
  • Keep swappable sides on hand: Sometimes you just don’t feel like eating what you planned to eat! By keeping a stocked pantry of healthy, supplemental items, you can easily mix and match based off preference and mood. Some great and healthy items to keep on hand include: quinoa, sweet potatoes, frozen vegetables, salad mixes, rice, canned soups, beans, etc.
  • Make a meal template: Meal planning is meant to make your life easier — not tougher! Each night you’re not meant to reinvent the wheel, so embrace a template for your dinners. For example, each meal will include: 1 main dish (like chicken or spaghetti), 1-2 vegetable or fruit-based sides (like green beans, yams, applesauce), 1 complex carbohydrate (like wild rice or quinoa).
  • Be kind to yourself: Remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Meal prepping is meant to fit your life and decrease stress. Discover what works for you by trying a few techniques and researching recipes. It’s okay to start small — the point is to just start somewhere!
Is meal prepping something you’re trying for the first time or something you’ve been doing for years? What are you looking forward to attempting?