With summer ending and hectic weeks ahead, healthy eating habits tend to take the back burner. There is no doubt that eating healthy requires some effort. What I so often see tripping my clients up is the belief that preparing healthy food takes more time than the alternative – eating out, ordering in, and anything in between.
Truth is, eating healthy meals require planning, a strategy, and batching your cooking; i.e. meal prep! With the know-how, you’ll spend just as much time making your delicious, healthy food as you collectively would deciding where to order from, driving to the restaurant, and picking up your food.
With that, let’s dive into my 4-step process for how to prep healthy food for the week!
STEP 1: BUY YOUR SUPPLIES
Being prepared is critical for making your food prep dates easy and efficient, and therefore sustainable! I recommend stocking up on the following items:
- Invest in a large set of food storage containers to store your main meals as well as healthy snacks. You will be using these containers frequently, especially if you choose to cook large batches of food and store the excess in the freezer!
- A salad spinner to make washing and drying veggies easier.
- A non-stick baking tray to make veggies, fish, and meats.
- Tin foil is great to use when baking veggies, fish, and meats, as it makes cleanup a breeze and prevent the cross contamination with baking sheets.
- Any kitchen tools you’ve been procrastinating on buying such as sharp knives, a large cutting board, mixing bowls, and etc.
As you continue food prepping, you’ll take note of more supplies that you need. Create a running list in a note app on your phone so you can easily keep track. Over time, you’ll fill in all the materials you need for meal prepping.
STEP 2: PLAN YOUR MEALS ON SATURDAYS
Fail to plan, plan to fail. It’s key to know what dishes you’re making for which meals so you can budget your proportions properly and know you’re covered.
I recommend browsing Pinterest for healthy versions of your favorite foods. Find these healthy alternatives by searching “paleo ______” (insert the name of one of your favorite dishes). If it’s new to you, “paleo” is a term that describes eating whole, unprocessed foods and avoiding certain ones thought to cause inflammation. While I don’t necessarily recommend anyone eat paleo across the board, using this search term is a quick way to narrow your results to recipes comprised of wholesome and nourishing ingredients.
Make sure you pin your favorite recipes to a healthy eating board! You’ll pool together recipes over time and have a constant supply to go back to whenever you don’t feel like seeking out new recipes.
Plan out your meals day by day using a calendar app on your phone or writing it out on paper. Think about how you can mix and match different mains and sides to keep your meals interesting. If you feel like you want to quit by Day 5 or so, keep going! The reward is worth it!
Once your meals are finalized, make a detailed grocery list including exact quantities and any special recipe notes. That way, if you get to the store and have any questions about what’s needed, you won’t have to guess and then come home with the wrong item.
STEP 3: GROCERY SHOP ON SATURDAYS
Grab your detailed grocery list and head out to shop on a Saturday, ideally at a time of day when the store won’t be crowded. Then, stash your fresh foods in the fridge in such a way that you can see everything. Food tends to go to waste when it’s forgotten -- out of sight, out of mind.
On Sundays you will be food prepping. It’s intentional that your shop and prep are spaced apart: too much food prep work in one day and you’ll get burned out. So, go off and enjoy the rest of your Saturday!
STEP 4: MEAL PREP ON SUNDAYS AND WEDNESDAYS
Set aside 2-3 hours every Sunday night to prep your meals for the 3-4 days ahead. You’ll prep again on Wednesday (usually this prep date can be shorter, say an hour) so you have a constant flow of fresh food in your fridge.
*Key tip: put food prep Sundays and Wednesdays in your calendar! If you don’t carve out the time, the commitment tends to go elsewhere.
Before you prep, sit down and map out your order of operations: what kitchen equipment will be needed for which dishes? What will you prepare first? What will you prep while X dish is in the oven? Which dishes should get baked together?
Then, clear off your counters to make your prep environment free and clear.
Most importantly, make your cooking environment fun! Pour yourself a glass of wine, turn up the music, and go barefoot. Have fun and get working.
You’ll be so, so pleased when you wake up tomorrow with a fridge full of delicious, nourishing foods.
Have fun and enjoy!
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Written by: Valerie Bisharat