Eating Healthy Can Be Hard. Here’s How to Make It Effortless.
Your alarm goes off too early, and whether you pop out of bed on cue or hit snooze a couple times, there never seems to be enough time to eat breakfast. Maybe you have a minute to grab coffee on the way out the door, if you’re lucky. And forget about packing lunch, ain’t nobody got time for that. There goes your new healthy diet…
Does this sound familiar?
Waking up earlier than you have to isn’t fun, especially when it entails deciding what to cook for yourself. That’s why one of my favorite time-saving weekly routines is meal prep. For a small upfront investment of 2-3 hours, you save yourself time, energy, and most of all, less stress.
By preparing your meals ahead of time, you set yourself up to eat well throughout the day. You’ll have a steady energy supply so you never have to worry about getting “hangry” at the office. You’ll take “will power” out of the equation. And you’ll free up mental energy so you can focus on accomplishing more important tasks throughout your day.
How does meal prep work?
Simple. Schedule a block of time at the beginning of your week (Sunday works well for most people). You’ll need 2-3 hours to grocery shop and cook everything, maybe a little longer while you hone your technique – it gets faster with practice, I promise.
Make a grocery list. This is important! Otherwise you’ll wander around the aisles absentmindedly or end up with a cart full of random junk food.
Build your list around 2-3 proteins (meat, fish, and eggs) and add vegetables and a few starchy foods for carbs (rice, beans, potatoes, squash). Fruit, nuts, and plain yogurt are all great for snacks, too. Buy a variety of spice mixes for your pantry.
If you’re new to cooking, or just don’t like to cook, it helps to find a few recipes online before you grocery shop. Keep it to 1-2 recipes so you don’t get overwhelmed with cooking. Use the recipes to make your grocery list. Make a list before you go, stick to it, and get in and out of the grocery store like you’re on a mission.
Back at home, lay everything out on your kitchen counter. It helps to clear some prep space ahead of time so a chaotic kitchen doesn’t stand in your way. Pick out a cutting board, knives, tongs, and the pots and pans you’ll need to cook the food you bought. Pre-heat the oven or start the grill.
Then get cooking!
- Protein: This is usually the fastest part of meal prep, since you can just throw most meat on the grill once you season it. If you don’t have a grill, the broiler on your oven works, too. Next best options are baking and stir fry.
- Use different spice mixes on each protein for variety. For example, if you buy a 4-pack of chicken breasts, season two with barbecue spices and two with an herb blend so you don’t get bored with the same flavor all week.
- Spices are better than marinades, but feel free to try that method as well if you have a healthy recipe. Anything you marinate should go in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it later in the week.
- Starches: This is usually the slowest part of meal prep. Figure out how long each starch takes to cook, and start it at the beginning so you can work on the rest of the meal while it cooks.
- Regular potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams can bake in the oven along with roasting meats or veggies.
- Rice takes a while to cook, so start it at the beginning of your meal prep.
- Pasta and canned beans are fairly quick, so they can wait until later in the process. Just read the packaging to figure out how much time each item requires.
- Veggies: buy a variety of fresh and frozen vegetables to round out your meals
- Fresh veggies: wash and cut these and cook them on the stove or store them in ziplock bags and tupperware so they’re ready for later in the week
- Frozen: can be steamed in the microwave in 2-5 minutes when you come home from work throughout the week. If you pair a different veggie mix with your protein each night, you’ll have a different meal and avoid getting bored with what you cooked.
- Snacks: fruit, nuts, yogurt, cheese, and sliced veggies make great snacks. Cut up everything and portion it out in tupperware to take to work. If you make a protein shake for your workouts, you can use small tupperware to portion out each serving and pack in your gym bag, or invest in Blender Bottle stackable containers.
Putting it all together: Invest in portable glass/plastic containers. Glass is best for reheating meals, and plastic best for snacks and salads. Put one serving of protein, some vegetables, and a starch in each tupperware container, store it in the fridge, and you’re set for the work week.
Meal prep pro-tips:
- Crock pots are freaking awesome for meal prep: chili, roasts, pulled pork/chicken, soup, and even oatmeal for breakfast can be cooked overnight while you sleep.
- Divided tupperware helps keep snacks separate (ie, carrots, hummus, and almonds) or for making sure one item doesn’t get soggy (ie, granola separate from yogurt).
- Salads are easy to customize by using a few different veggies. Buy mixed greens and portion the greens into four containers. Top two salads with cucumber, tomato, and olives; top the other two with peppers, onions, and avocado.
- You can also try packing a different salad dressing each day. Just like using different spices on your proteins, this keeps things interesting so you don’t get bored with your meals.
With your lunches ready to go in tupperware containers, all you have to do is grab one on the way out the door. No time wasted in the morning, and no stressing about whether McDonald’s or Wendy’s is a “healthier” lunch option when you get hangry at work. Win-win. You can do the same thing with your breakfast, as well, further eliminating the need to think in the morning, which is a triple win.
Need more ideas? Follow @KPxFitness on Instagram for meal prep inspiration.
I know it can be intimidating to start a meal prep routine.
As a bonus for you, I put together a guide to simplify the process,
so you can eat healthy with less effort.
The Meal Prep Mastery guide includes:
- Step-by-step meal prep instructions;
- Tips and tricks to improve your meal prep skills;
- A demo video to show you how simple meal prep can be;
- A grocery list full of healthy options to save you time at the store;
- And sample recipes to get you started today.
Simply enter your email address HERE, and I’ll deliver the shopping list and video link directly to your inbox so you can start preparing your meals today.