At the start of the year, a lot of us resolve or recommit to healthier eating. One of the biggest downfalls I hear from the people I work with is that they rely on grabbing meals from restaurants rather than bringing a lunch or cooking dinner. A surprising amount of people also eat out for breakfast. Imagine not only the cost calorically but monetarily as well. While meal prep can look very overwhelming if you google it and see elaborate displays of people who prep literally every meal for the week ahead of time, there are ways to simplify it to make it manageable for your family and without thinking you need to compromise a lot of your time.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Make a plan for which meals you will eat from home each week and write it out. It helps to think about your schedule and decide which nights you can commit to cooking. If you are going to cook, make extra for leftovers to take to lunch the next day. Make a shopping list and stick to it, not letting anything else sneak into the cart.
- Instead of cooking whole meals on Sunday for the week, try prepping just pieces of each meal or snack. For instance, chop veggies or fruit for recipes or easy snacks, roast a chicken and break it up to make salads, sandwiches, or soups. Instead of making oatmeal every morning, make a baked oat recipe or cook a batch in bulk to divide up.
- Don’t be afraid to rely on some convenient items. The cost may be a little more, but if it means you won’t hit the drive through, the cost makes up for itself. For instance, individual cereal packets, hardboiled eggs, cheese sticks, packs of nuts/seeds, or protein drinks can be easily pieced together for a meal or snack. Frozen meals have come a long way to not include extra sodium or preservatives and can make a quick, easy lunch. Salmon, turkey or chicken burgers cook up fast and pair easily with steamed veggies and a salad.
- Explore new offerings at your grocery store. Lots of stores are offering meal kits that have everything prepped and ready to go. The bonus of these is that you don’t need to subscribe or wait for it in the mail. Many stores also have simple, well-balanced and portioned meals that you can just heat and eat. You can find these near the deli or meat section.
Find a level of meal prep you are comfortable within your life. As with anything related to a healthy diet, it doesn’t need to be an all or nothing approach. Any little bit helps!
Happy New Year! – Angela