By Angela Wallace, MSc, RD, PTS
Are you busy? Do you sometimes feel like there aren’t enough hours in your day? If you answered yes, you NEED to start meal prepping! It might seem like another chore, but it will save you time, energy, and money (and once you get into the swing of it, it becomes so easy). Being a busy individual means you need energy to keep up with your busy schedule. In addition, if you are working with clients you need to keep them motivated, requiring some extra energy. Fueling your body properly and ensuring you take time to eat healthy meals can make all the difference in your energy levels and your overall health, which will ultimately help you serve your clients best.
How can you start meal prepping?
Step 1: Pick 1-2 days a week to shop for the groceries you need for your meals and snacks.
Step 2: Once you have selected those days, make a plan prior to shopping. For example, if you shop on Sundays, take 5-10 minutes to think about what the week ahead looks like (when will you be working late? when will you need meals at work? when will you be too lazy to prep or cook anything?). Based on your answers to those questions, you can make a plan of what you want to have each day. Know that it is OKAY to plan to eat out on super busy days; it’s the planning aspect that is key. When we don’t plan we end up turning to eating out way too often, and ultimately spending more money than necessary.
Tip: If this is completely new to you, I would suggest starting by planning one meal a day, perhaps your dinners. Keeping breakfast and lunch options simple (i.e., a smoothie and a salad). I still only plan my weekly dinners, my breakfast rotates between oats, smoothies and eggs, and my lunches tend to be leftovers (from my planned dinners). Decide which meal would be best for you to plan ahead so that you can avoid eating out as much as possible.
Step 3: Stick to your proposed plan at the grocery store and get the ingredients you need to make it happen.
Step 4: Set aside time to prepare your meals. This will look different for everyone. For some, it might mean prepping 2-4 meals in advance for their busy week, for others it might mean just prepping a few items to make dinner time super quick. I often cook a fresh meal every night, keeping it simple during the week. For example, I might make veggie burgers, grilled chicken and Greek salad, and tuna melts (all 30 minutes or less). Find what works for you and stick to it!
Healthy Eating On-The-Go Tips
- Prep simple foods at the beginning of your week. Chopping and portioning fruit and veggies can be a simple way to start out. This way you can grab these items before you run out each day. You could even prepare some protein or grains ahead of time – if you have planned to have quinoa during the week ahead, why not cook that beforehand?
- Make use of your home freezer. If you do get around to batch cooking, make room in your freezer to store pre-prepared options for super busy weeks. Whenever making soups or stews, it’s always a good idea to make a large batch and freeze it. This also works well with healthy muffins for a quick grab-and-go in the mornings!
- Just like you schedule clients, schedule time to plan your meals. Grocery shop and care for yourself.
- Start small, perhaps you only start by prepping your dinners or your snacks each day. Start with one area and keep building.
- Keep your fridge, freezer, and pantry well stocked. What items do you use most? Do you always need some fresh fruits and veggies, cans of tuna, oats, etc.? Figure out your common food patterns and make sure you have what you need to make meal prep and cooking super simple.
- Use your ingredients more than once. This can mean using spinach in a smoothie, salad, and stir-fry. Plan to include your produce in different meals to make your life easier and reduce food waste.
- When out, read the food labels. Pay attention to the calories and sugar in each of your choices. Try looking at the menu ahead of time, so you know what your best options are when dining out.
- Don’t stress if things don’t always go as planned, sometimes things get crazy and sometimes you won’t have any desire to cook. Being prepared and having the items you need in your home will help ensure you get right back on track.
Cheers to happy and healthy meal prepping and eating!