Preparing and eating meals is a day-to-day excursion. Let’s face it, we must put food on our plates every single day to live a healthy lifestyle. For the most of us, this can become quite the challenge especially when you feel like you’re “flying by the seat of your pants.” We all know we should pack our lunch every day, but how many of us actually do? Many of us end up running out to grab a quick bite just to hold us over until dinner. That quick bite could be the very thing holding us back from reaching our health goals! It usually consists of an overpriced iceberg salad drenched in a high-sugar, low-fat dressing, a few pieces of chicken and dried fruit on top. If you broke down the nutrients, the cost, and the time, you will always get more bang for your buck when you make your lunch at home. So how do we get in the habit of packing a lunch? For myself and all of our clients here at Ideal Wellness, it really comes down to mastering your meal prep.
I want to reassure you, meal prepping does not have to be overwhelming. But first, forget what you know about meal prepping. It does not have to look like what you’ve seen online; seven plastic containers stacked inside your fridge filled with plain chicken and lettuce. It can be so much more nutrient dense and colorful! Read on to learn my top four tips on how to get started.
1. Get Organized
When you keep your fridge organized, it makes life easy. It can be beneficial to take a moment to toss out anything you haven’t used in the past few months (sauces, dressings, jars, cartons, etc.). Once you have minimized, you’ll be surprised to see how much more space you really have. At this point, it doesn’t hurt to wipe down the shelves and drawers with a simple, non-toxic cleaner. Now that things are looking and smelling nice, you can get to shopping and chopping.
2. Start Chopping
If there were one thing you could do consistently every week to help with your daily food intake, it would definitely be chopping up your vegetables right when you get home from the store. Get them all out of the bags, wash them, and start chopping. To make this process easier, I highly suggest purchasing a sharp chopping knife and a large bamboo cutting board.
Place the diced vegetables in Tupperware as you go and store in the fridge for easy access when you’re ready to cook. This is a simple form of meal prepping. Click the link below to view our favorite food storage containers for keeping leafy greens fresh and crisp.
When you rush home from a busy day, you are much more likely to open the fridge and see a tasty combination for dinner rather than staring blankly into the refrigerator asking “what’s for dinner?” It takes all the hard work out of cooking. All you have to do now is throw the diced vegetables in a hot pan with some avocado oil and seasonings. When you don’t even have time to cook, toss some of your chopped vegetables on your plate and drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of pink salt, and call it a day.
Now that you’ve shopped and chopped, on to the implementation. At dinner time, create a habit of cooking double the amount of protein and vegetables you’re used to. The leftovers can be packed for lunch the next day! So easy. Below is a link to a set of glass meal prep containers, perfect for packing lunches.
Now all you have to do is remember to take your prepped meal to work. Also, take the time to stop what you’re doing during the day to take a lunch break. Slow down and enjoy your flavorful, nutritious lunch (for half the price of going out). Every night after dinner, be sure to do a fridge checkup. To keep the flow going and the habit sticking, be aware of what’s frozen, what’s ready, and what needs to be used first.
You also want to think about time. If you’re going to get home late, you don’t want to start something like a big roast or hearty vegetables that take a long time in the oven; rutabaga, chayote squash, brussels sprouts. Think light and tender; zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, peppers, green onions, and riced cauliflower. These are all things that can be sautéed on high heat with a bit of oil and your favorite seasonings in less than 5 minutes. Quick protein ideas would be rotisserie chicken, canned wild-caught tuna or salmon, sheet pan shrimp, eggs, or leftovers.
You are now a master of your own meals! Happy prepping.