One of the most popular questions I get is about meal planning and meal preparation. You know the deal. You start each week with all of the good intentions. You plan to eat “clean” all week and make good food choices in order to feel your best and then Monday knocks you on the ass. The kids give you a hard time getting their teeth brushed, your boss is breathing down your neck about a 24 hour deadline, and you spill your coffee on your lap on the way to work. Lunch time comes around and you do not have anything prepared so you eat on the go and by the time dinner comes you are too tired to care so popcorn and wine become the easiest choice. You are exhausted and feel like crap only to start over again on Tuesday. This is not to say that some days you might not intentionally choose to go that route, no judgment if you do, but if you are being honest with yourself you would probably rather have great meals ready to go that make you feel great and taste amazing right?
Enter meal preparation. To most this task seems so daunting and tedious so we just skip it and try to eat as we go. The scenario illustrated above happens all too often and is not in our best interest for the most part so I am here to tell you that meal planning does not have to be that difficult nor does it have to take over an entire day of slaving in the kitchen. Meal prepping can be very simple and very rewarding and you do not have to be an incredible Pinterest chef to plan your meals for the week. Below is a very simple and painless way to handle meal prep, and it will allow you to be creative so that you do not get bored eating the same exact meals every single day for a week at a time.
Pick one day of the week that you like to shop and prepare your food. If that is Sunday, cool, if it is Wednesday, so be it. There is no hard and fast rule about when is best, just pick a day that works best for you and your schedule and family. Also, you do not have to buy food for an entire week at a time if that is too overwhelming. I personally like to go on Sunday and buy for 3-4 days at a time and play Friday and Saturday by ear as our family sometimes eats out on those days.
When meal prepping you will want to make sure you have all of the macronutrients represented in each meal. You will need protein, carbohydrates (including vegetables), and fats. If you shop the perimeter of most stores you will find all of the ingredients that you need. Every meal does not have to be some creative casserole or extravagant meal so for the purpose of this article I am talking just the basics folks. Of course, you can reserve a night to make a special dinner for your family that will yield lots of leftovers but keep it simple if your life is super busy and there is not ample time to prep that much.
While at the store purchase 3 protein sources, 3 carbohydrate sources, 3 vegetables, and 3 fat sources. Ideas and options for that will be listed below. No need to decide what will go with what. Just focus on getting the basics and prepping them how you like and you can go from there. This of course does not include snacks, fruits, and nuts you might need between meals but you get what I am saying.
Simply cook your protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables so that you have 3 types of each ready to go. You can do this in bulk and it should not take more than a couple of hours at a time if you are just using simple ingredients. Now, you have several different combinations of meals you can make. You do not need to prep them all in perfect serving size containers like you see on Instagram. Just put them each in their own designated container and portion out what you want when you want it.
If you have to take a meal to work the next day get it prepared in a smaller container the night before with a serving of protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, and fats and voila, you have a meal ready to go! You can mix and match thing so that you do not get bored, and you can change up the fat source for each meal if you wish too. Just make sure each meal is covering all of the bases. Bring snacks with you for in between meals if you need and like to snack and you should be good to go. Below are some of the food options you can rotate through week to week.
Protein (for the importance of protein click here)
- Meats (lean or fatty) beef, steak, or wild game
- Poultry – chicken, turkey
- Seafood – wild caught fish and shellfish
- High quality deli meats
- Beans and Lentils
- Tofu and Tempeh
- Protein Powders and bars
- Whole grains
- Nuts and nut butters
- Dark Chocolate
- Chia seeds
- Full fat yogurt
Like I said, you can buy different foods each week and mix and match as you see fit or based on your cravings on any given day. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be overly creative and keep it simple y’all! If you have any questions feel free to let me know and as always thanks for reading and sharing!