What's the most crucial element to consistently eating healthy and nutritionally balanced? MEAL PREP. I know, you were hoping I wouldn't say that, right? Like, who the heck wants to spend their entire Sunday meal prepping their food for the week?! I can remember feeling this way. I also remember years ago, the very first Sunday that I meal prepped. It took me 5-6 hours. It was exhausting and overwhelming. But I have to admit, it got easier.
And since then, I've learned to simplify the process and do it all, start to finish, in about 90 minutes. Here's how:
1. I batch cook everything and find different uses for it which gives me variety. For instance, I cook about 6 chicken breasts in the crock pot on low for about 8 hours. I add a little bit of chicken bouillon for flavor, and each week I switch up the seasonings. This week, I made spicy shredded chicken by adding cayenne pepper, jalapeños, and some spicy fresh salsa. Then, with this chicken, I can make tacos in low carb tortillas or put it on top of jasmine rice, or pair it with a sweet potato. This also goes great on top of spinach for a spicy chicken salad.
2. I make bun-less burgers with grass-fed beef, seasoned with garlic and sea salt, and add in some cheese and chopped onion. These go great alone or with some rice and reheat nicely if you grill them to medium only. (this gives them a little bit of space to brown up a bit more when reheated)
3. I make about 4 cups of cooked rice for my husband and I to share throughout the week.
4. Each week, I buy different vegetables that I enjoy and roast them together in the oven. I love combining onion with different squashes and broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers of all colors, Brussel sprouts, or snap peas. Tossed in some avocado oil, seasoned with garlic and sea salt, and roasted in the oven at 425 until desired tenderness. Delicious and can be paired with any of the above mentioned proteins!
5. I lightly grill some steaks for my husband, then slice them up in bite sized pieces. I season these in a different variety of ways and he then pairs that with rice, veggies, or on top of spinach for a salad.
6. Some weeks, I will slow cook a pork tenderloin and then shred up with a healthy bbq sauce.
All of the above can be done, after a few weeks of practice, in about 90 minutes. Two very important pieces of advice I would give you for cutting down on time would be DON'T MEASURE AND DIVIDE UP INTO SMALL MEAL PREP CONTAINERS! This is tedious and time consuming. I put all of the above mentioned in large Tupperware containers in the fridge, and then each evening before work (or each morning before we leave) my husband and I dish out what we want for the day into our glass, individual containers to take with us to be warmed up at work. This also then allows for variety of meals to be chosen from day to day. The other advice I would give, is to also have some food on hand that is healthy but doesn't require much prep. Such as each day I pack some unflavored, plain Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries and two packets of stevia. This is easy and delicious. I also keep beef jerky on hand for snacking and sometimes almonds or cashews. And don't forget fruit! Fruit is a great source of a healthy carb and is quick and easy to grab and pack.
As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you can plan to fail. Is this always the case? No. Some of you work in environments in which there are terrific cafeterias that offer a wide variety of healthy choices. Although with that, they usually offer a wide variety of tempting, not so good choices. This can make it difficult when you are really hungry. For me, I walk into work everyday with my lunch bag that can hold ice packs and meal containers, plus two large bottles of water. I always have two healthy meals packed plus at least one healthy quick snack in case I don't have time to heat up a meal when I'm really hungry. This takes the guessing work out of what I will be eating throughout the day and helps to ensure that I am filling up on whole, nutrient dense food that will properly fuel my body.
So this week, plan out a couple of things you can grill, bake, or cook ahead for the week. Hit up the grocery store (or Walmart online grocery pick-up like I do!) and get what you need. Then, turn on some fun music in the kitchen, and get to meal prepping!