Meal Prep Like A Pro
Time is a precious commodity, but that doesn’t mean your health should suffer. As a nutrition professional, I practice what I preach to my clients. Every Sunday I commit time to planning my meals for the week. My goals of nutrition are simple and straightforward—food provides my body with fuel, nutrients and the substances needed to fight inflammation and disease. My secondary goal is to eat foods I enjoy. Over the years I’ve learned to stay away from highly processed foods that are high in sugar or refined carbohydrates and I encourage clients to do the same.
Meal prep is everything, but it does NOT need to be time consuming. Here are some of my top strategies for busy professionals (moms included):
- Limit Variety During The Week To Save Time And Money. This means the core of what you eat everyday remains the same, but you can make changes to the seasonings or sides. Core items in my diet include eggs, egg whites, Wild Alaska Salmon, Cod, Chunk Light Tuna and Tempeh. To this protein base, I add vegetables and I usually stick to spinach, kale, riced Cauliflower and Green Beans. Occasionally I have ½ of a baked sweet potato or homemade keto bread. Snacks include low-fat plain yogurt, berries and a nut butter, a poached egg or a protein bar. Weekends are fairly similar, but I may have something a little more savory for dinner.
- Prep And Cook In Bulk On The Weekends. (or your least busy day). If Sunday is your meal prep day, then you’ll have to make sure your grocery shopping is done by the day before. For me, this means I have to put the frozen fish in the refrigerator on Friday or Saturday in order for it to be thawed.
- Have The Right Tools For The Right Job. You’ll need make sure your kitchen tools are easily accessible. Tools that I use each week include a vegetable steamer, a toaster oven, an iron skillet, a large skillet, a baking stone, a Nutribullet and of course, a coffee maker. Everything I use is stored strategically close to my cooking area. In addition to cookware, an often neglected aspect of meal prep is Tupperware and a large insulated lunchbag. Remember, you’ll be cooking anywhere from 2-5 servings to last you throughout the week and most of your meals won’t be eaten at home. You’ll have to find a system that works for you. For me this means I cook on Sundays and Tuesday evenings since I work Monday through Thursday.
- Know your grocery store and get in and get out. Stick to your grocery list and try to avoid impulse purchases. If you can limit variety, then your grocery shopping experience will be quick and easy because you’ll be eating the same core foods each week. This recommendation is not a popular one, but unless you have extra time to plan, purchase and prepare a new menu each week, it’s really your best option. The number one reason people don’t prepare their own meals is because of perceived lack of time.
Some final pointers—
The core of a healthy eating plan is one that emphasizes whole foods in their mostly natural state. It should be low in added sugars, refined carbohydrates and saturated fat. It’s worth mentioning that your meal plan should also be calorically balanced with the appropriate macro and micronutrients for your individual needs. This is not to say that everyone’s meal plan will look the same, but we start with general recommendations and then fine-tune throughout the one-one-one visits.
So there you have it. I’ve shared my secrets on meal prep and I’m sure by this point you’re thinking, “that’s it? –that’s so boring!” It’s true. There is nothing sexy about the daily grind of preparing your food. I wish it were because then it would be an easy sell. As it is, meal prep is a daily habit, similar to taking a shower or brushing your teeth. It’s not always glamorous, but it needs to be done.
Nutrition Solutions exists to help people eat better. Too busy to do your own meal prep? Let our chef do it for you!