What are some reasons people struggle to make necessary dietary changes for their health? What are some of the reasons you have given in the past or right now? I believe there are tools with which we can equip ourselves to not only make a healthy lifestyle easier, but make it nearly unavoidable. With a kitchen stocked with healthy ingredients and meals, saying “no” to poor choices is so much easier! Today, I want to discuss with you one of those vital tools, meal prep.
Meal prep is is not strictly or exclusively preparing all your meals ahead for your week. This can be great, but also overwhelming or impractical for some individuals or families. Rather, I define meal prep as the following, “Dedicating a block of time to batch-cook ingredients and/or prepare full meals for the week ahead, to make feeding yourself and your family easier each day.”
It can be as simple as baking large batches of meat and chopping a bunch of veggies for salads and stir-frys, or as involved as cooking and portioning full recipes. Meal prep will not only make healthier eating easier, it also gives you a head start to your week, enabling you to spend your time more efficiently.
So, if meal prep is so great, and a well stocked refrigerator would enable you and your family to eat healthier, why is it so hard to start or continue utilizing this tool? I believe it is because there are different styles to meal prep, based on your health goals, budget, routine, time, and cooking experience. The process to discover your style can be fun and freeing. To counter any obstacles, here is a little exercise for you to work through. It will be the start to streamline your meal prep style and effectively stock your kitchen with healthy food for a thriving family!
Take out a pen and paper and answer the questions to the following categories:
Goals: What is my current health goal? What are the foods with which I want to fill my home in order to support a healthy lifestyle for myself and my family? Defining goals will enable you to gather any recipe resources and build your shopping list.
Budget: How much money can I spend on meal prep? While to some people, this can stop them from even starting, it should actually be very encouraging! Meal prep saves you money because you don’t have to grab fast and convenient foods that cost more dollars. You don’t have to meal prep with the most expensive ingredients. Choose cost effective veggies and cuts of meat to get started.
Routine: What is my weekly routine that impacts my meal times? Examples: Factors such as working from home vs. an office job vs. frequent travel will greatly impact your need for meal prep. Other details include when you leave for work and return home. It may be easy and relaxing to make dinner each night but prepping lunch is more essential.
Time: What time can I set aside for meal prep? When and how much? We can’t always make more time for meal prep, but if necessary we can cut out a different activity to prioritize meal prep. And if meal prep means you are eating to nourish your body it is definitely a necessity! Be creative. A time efficient tip is to prepare an extra serving of dinner to use for lunch the following day. Make yourself a “meal prep appointment” and then show up! As you do this, you should find that you have MORE time in your week! (...and less dishes to wash every day!)
Cooking Experience: With my experience, how can I confidently start meal prepping in the kitchen? Do I work best using a recipe or intuitively crafting my own meals? It can feel a little tedious to plan all your recipes and build a menu for a few days or a week at a time. However, this gets much easier with experience. Many individuals simply batch cook ingredients. Then, the day of, craft a desired meal from those ingredients.
Want to learn more about meal prep? I am teaching a FREE meal prep workshop this Sunday, September 15th from 1:30-3pm at the Rogue Carrot in Alfred, NY. You will learn the keys to build a healthy plate, discuss your meal prep style, plan your weekly meal prep based on your style, tips for creative snacks and meals, and more! Space is limited, so contact me to register and save your seat!*
*Register for my Meal Prep workshop @ thrivinghealthNY.com