Today I am super excited to share our Meal Prep routine! First, I want to start by saying that meal prepping is a COMMITMENT and it is supposed to be ENJOYABLE not stressful! If it is neither of those two things then you will fail.
DISCLAIMER: By no means am I an expert. By no means have I perfected this, however this is my journey. My personal journey in which you are witnessing and possibly joining in on along side of me!
It is first and foremost a COMMITMENT. It takes time and is not something that can be done on the fly. It involves a lot of planning and intentionality. You are planning and cooking what you are eating for an entire week. If you are anything like me, my cravings is my worst enemy (see below how I tackle that), and so I will crave something in the middle of the week. Well here is the thing, meal prepping is such a commitment so not only are you “cheating” but you are wasting money when you do. Because every meal that is prepped and not eaten is money down the drain. Also, note that the commitment is not something you make for yourself but for your household. For true success, the whole house needs to be fully committed. With that said be intentional about preparing a little bit of what everyone likes.
Also, it is a commitment is most successfully made as a family. We struggled in the beginning because this lifestyle was my husband’s idea but yet all of the planning and prepping was falling on me. I work full time as a teacher (teachers understand the struggle because it is REAL), and it became cumbersome and overwhelming. Then my husband saw how I was stressing out and we concluded that he too needed to be a part of it. Now meal prepping is like a mini date! We pop in a movie on our laptops or even just dance around to music. It is such a sweet time and we are having fun! So I encourage you to make it a family affair, involve the entire family if possible. When you do, everyone takes ownership of it and appreciates the work/thought that goes into it.
It has to be ENJOYABLE! After all, the purpose of this is to get you healthy and to make you feel better! This does not mean that you have to eat salad all day everyday (although some people are okay with that). See a struggle for me and my husband is that we thought we had to give up our “ethnic” food. In all reality this was not true, we just had to make modifications to the recipes and make compromises (basically compromising the taste for the quality). Again, make at least one thing that each person in your household likes. For example if you like spinach, your husband likes green beans, your kid loves sweet potato then incorporate it in one of your meals. For example, sweet potato as a side for breakfast, spinach for lunch, and green beans as a side for dinner.
Okay let’s get the ball rolling!
Step 1: Vision
First, create a vision for your family. What is this whole meal prepping thing going to mean for your family? What commitments are you going to stick to? Is it to lose weight? Is it to rid your body of as much toxins as possible? Is this a temporary change or a lifestyle change? What things are you going to put your foot down on? What things are you willing to compromise? With the amount of commitment involved, I am pretty sure it is going to be a lifestyle change.
Step 2: Planning
PLAN PLAN PLAN!!! This means consider your schedule, your family’s likes and dislikes, etc. For us we do our actual meal prep on Sunday. The planning happens all throughout the week prior to Sunday. Whatever you do, do not plan on the fly (basically do not plan while you are grocery shopping). Also, I do not recommend shopping then prepping. I find myself being so crabby by the end of it because I am so exhausted. Then if I am crabby and exhausted, then I associate meal prepping with grabiness! No bueno!
Step 3: Breakfast
Now you all know how they say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, well it is! Think about it, this is what gives you a head start. This is your first fuel for the day. Hubby and I prepare breakfast for the week. We prepare 10 containers (one for each day). Our breakfast usually is high in protein. We usually make egg muffins with veggies (just a glorified omelet I guess). Then we pair it up with some uncured turkey bacon. At first we were not eating grains for a while but we decided to just be selective with grains so on that note I want to start making some quinoa oatmeal breakfast in a jar.
Step 4: Lunch
Now if you follow my blog you know what we have for lunch. Now, I am not a salad eater so this was a hard adjustment for me. So in order to get over this hurdle I needed to make sure I added things that I liked to eat in my salad. For example, I am a meat eater… so I NEED MEAT! Next, I needed something that would fill me up, so I added Quinoa. Check out my post here for more details. Now salads might not work for everyone every single week, so switch it up! Have what you would have for dinner for lunch and vice versa.
Step 5: Snack
This is huge for me! I am a sweet and salty kind of girl, that is what drives my cravings. This process was a transition like everything else. But snacks for me are carrots, cucumber slices, organic trail mix, small slices of cheese, hard boiled eggs, organic pretzels, and fruit.
Step 6: Dinner
We make one or two veggie sides for the week. So this may be braised string beans, bok choy, sauteed mushrooms, zuchini, etc. Then we have some carbs of some sort usually organic quinoa or organic brown rice. Lastly we have our protein. Our protein is usually salmon, chicken, or beef.
Step 7: Beverages
WATER WATER WATER! We drink tons of water. I always grew up with water so I am not opposed to water (I thank my parents for that). The hubs will always will joke when people come over, he asks them “would you like water, water, or water”. So we make infused waters or iced tea with honey as sweetener. Sometimes we have juice, but we prefer fresh squeezed (or pressed) juice.
Step 8: Routine
1. Night before you meal prep be sure to defrost all of your meats (marinate if needed), hard boil your eggs, cook quinoa.
2. Prep Day: Put on some comfy shoes, and comfy clothes because this will take about 3-4 hours. Set the mood! Put on some music, and have fun! Right now my favorite online radio is songza.com.
3. Boil your water to make your iced tea. We generally make 1 or 2 pitchers to last the week.
4. Start chopping all your veggies for your sides. Also wash your greens for your salads and lay them out to dry.
5. We start to kick things off with making the breakfast items. For example the “egg muffins”, I put it together and stick it in the oven. And while that is in the oven I start cooking the bacon.
6. Next I move onto the protein. If it is chicken or beef, I usually have had it marinated. Then we grill it on our stovetop cast iron grill or bake it in the oven.
7. Then I continue with dinner, which is usually first making the sides (ie. quinoa salad, sautéing veggies, etc).
8. Afterwards, I get working on my salad in a jar. I fill up my jars (as seen here) then you are good to go!
9. Lastly, I make our dessert and snacks. Dessert just means cutting up fruit and separating some in small mason jars to pack and some to leave at home. I also, will pre-package snacks at this time as well.
10. Finally, refrigerate everything. Take a step back and look at what you have just accomplished! It is a ton of work but totally worth it!!
Here is a peek into our refrigerator…
//FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS//
How do you fight the cravings?
I have had to learn self control in this area, one way I’ve done that is by asking myself “Okay are you really craving French Fries or do you just want something salty? Are you really craving Ice Cream or just craving something sweet or cold?” The best way I have addressed this is by finding alternatives. So for Ice Cream I have learned to make banana ice cream. For salty cravings I would eat a hardboiled egg. For crunchy cravings I’ve snacked on a few organic pretzels.
Do you eat fast food?
Occasionally, yes! Weekends are usually our times to eat out, not always fast food of course. Also, the longer we do this the more I see ourselves making better decisions when we eat out. However we have the occasional times that we eat junk, and let’s just say that we pay for it!
Do you buy everything organic?
The answer is no (see my post here on what items we do buy that is organic)?
What about your sugar intake?
We try to receive our sugars from fruits and veggies. Then as a sweetener we use honey majority of the time. We hardly use granulated sugar, we avoid it as much as possible if we can control. Off course except for the other times which we occasionally have a soda or a cake.
Do you control your portions?
Yes and no. We are mindful about our portions, however we don’t necessarily weigh everything out. Basically we eyeball it.
If you have questions please ask away in the comments! The comments is at the top of the post on the left side of the title of this post. I’d love to hear from you! What are your meal prepping routines?
Thank you for taking a peak into our healthy living lifestyle journey! Be sure to click here to see more into this Healthy Living journey that we are on!!!