Meal prep is probably something you’ve heard people promote and you may know that it’s helpful to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but you may not do it consistently because it seems like it takes an ENTIRE DAY to get it all done.
Let me help you break down your meal prep into 9 simple steps so that you can knock it out as quickly as possible. Following this advice will help you achieve the whole foods diet that you aspire to that you “just don’t have the time for.”
Here is how I approach my weekly meal planning:
1. Look at your fridge/ freezer/ pantry and do a quick scan of what you already have, jot down 3 of each of the below that you would like to use/ get rid of this week.
- GRAINS (if you are a grain eater)
2. Can you come up with any simple meals on your own using those ingredients? If you need more ingredients to round out the meal, write them down on your grocery list. If you are unsure of what to make or want to try something new, see step 3!
3. Sit down at a computer (or use your phone), use google or your favorite website (chelseajyoung.com) and scan for foods that match what you have on hand. I usually type ‘paleo’ in to come up with recipes that eliminate dairy and gluten.
4. Come up with 4 or 5 dinner meals to make & plan to double the portions for 2 of these meals so that you have leftover lunches. Write down extra ingredients you will need to make these meals on your grocery list. Look for opportunities to swap out or add in ingredients that you already have to save money and opportunities to slim down your pantry! (Example: a recipe calls for brown rice and you have quinoa. Use quinoa instead! ) I try to shoot for 1 red meat dinner, 1 fish dinner, 1 poultry or egg dinner & 1 vegetarian dinner a week. I tend to base my dinners around the protein I have on hand.
5. Beyond the dinners you came up with, what will you need for 2-3 simple lunches to get you through the week beside what you can get out of the leftovers? Here are my go-to lunches I eat most often:
- Tuna Salad – some of my favorites: Mediterranean & Spicy
- Low Carb Plate – Seriously, what do you have in your fridge that you can throw on a plate or in a to-go container? (fats, carbs, protein!) it doesn’t have to be pretty – it just has to nourish you!
- Kale-Yeah Salad
- Fried Eggs with Leafy Greens & Avocado!
- A Fresh salad is always a go-to during summer – check out my ‘Healthy Salad Bowl’ recipe and get creative!
6. What about breakfast?! Make it SIMPLE. Stick to 2 different options each week so you don’t have to think! See my 3 go-to’s below:
- Shake with Unsweetened Almond Milk – I use Shakeology
- Fried eggs with black beans, salsa & avocado
- Overnight oats – so simple & easy to make ahead of time, this will be a new staple!
7. What about snacks?! First off, do you really need them? If you have sufficiently nutritious meals, you might find that you do not need snacks, and that would save you some time! Ideally you want to eat a good macro ratio, one that will keep you satisfied until your next meal (fats, carbs, proteins) – see my blog post on macros here! If that doesn’t happen, that’s ok. Being pregnant, I’ve turned into a major snacker myself because there isn’t much room in my belly for the normal meals I used to have. My favorite snack options are below:
- 1 Cup raw veggies w/ 2 tbsp hummus or salsa to dip
- 1 piece fruit (apple/ banana) paired with 1 tbsp nut butter
- 1 handful of roasted almonds w ½ cup berries
- 2 hard boiled eggs w/ 1 tsp home made mayo
- 2 Nut Balls or Cocoa-Nut Cookies
8. Now that you have an idea of 4-5 dinner options, 2-3 lunch options + leftovers from dinners, 2 breakfast options & 2 snack options WRITTEN DOWN so you have a plan in place, it’s time to make your grocery list. Put everything on this list that you need to rock out this week– remember you may be able to swap some things out with what you have in your pantry! Get to the grocery store or maybe you have an option to get to a farmer’s market!
9. Once you’ve been to the grocery store, it’s time to make your week easy by doing some simple things ahead of time so you are prepped, ready, and motivated to stay on track during your week! Take a look at your list of dinners, lunches, breakfasts, and snacks. What can you do now that will help you save time during the week? Write those down as ‘to-makes’ and prioritize them. You don’t have to do them all in one day! Here are my go-to weekly ‘to-makes’
- Pre-cook grains (rice, quinoa, etc)
- Wash & chop up veggies you’ll use during the first half of the week
- Roast veggies for lunches and store in fridge
- Pre-cook proteins if it makes sense to use for lunches or for dinners – chicken breasts, salmon, veggie burgers etc.
- Hard Boil eggs (I do 6 at a time)
- Make dressings and sauces you may need for a recipe and store in the fridge
- Make home-made mayo (only have to do this once every 2-3 wks) – I use this on my hard boiled eggs, and top lunches/ salads for extra fat!
See an example of my recent week & meal prep! REMEMBER meal prep doesn’t all have to happen in one day – you can do a little bit here and a little bit there throughout the week if that works better for you depending on your schedule
Food items to use:
- Wild Caught Salmon
- Wild Caught Cod
- Organic Eggs/ Egg Whites
- Organic Chicken Breast
- Sweet Potato
- Black Beans
- Swiss Chard
- Bell Peppers
4 Dinner Ideas:
- Sweet Potato Crust Quiche – Laura Lea Balanced
- Feta/ Beet /Kale White Fish Salad
- Salmon w Cucumber, quinoa, tomato salad with lemon dill dressing
- Mexican stuffed chicken peppers with black beans & salsa topped w avocado
- Fried Eggs over Swiss Chard topped with salsa & avocado
- Spicy Tuna Salad with Bell Peppers & Quinoa
- Overnight oats with blueberries
- Vegan Chocolate Shakeology w unsweetened almond milk
- Hard Boiled eggs with Mayo
- Berries & Nuts
What would I prep:
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Pre-cook Quinoa
- Roast Beets – peel and slice
- Pre-Make Quiche and store in fridge – reheat for dinner & lunch by the slice!
- Lemon Dill Dressing for Cucumber / Tomato salad
- Pre-cook / Sous Vide Chicken breasts and store in fridge – ready to shred for peppers
- Prep in 2-3 mason jars blueberry overnight oats
- Roast Nuts and store for the week for munching
- Make home-made mayo (also if you have guac that’s a good topper too!)