Meal Prepping is such a hot topic that I fear it has been overblogged. I have had the pictures for this post saved for quite a while, but a) I felt like a hypocrite posting on meal-prep when I wasn’t working and b) I felt like I would fail at saying anything new about it. Now that I have been working for a whole lot of 2 days, I feel qualified enough to talk about it, and, as for saying anything new: I guess we’ll have to wait and see, right?
Meal prepping can take many different shapes and sizes. By that I mean that everybody eats differently, so everybody’s meal prep is going to look different. And since your meal prep depends on how your (work) day is structured, there is really no point in telling you to do all your meal prep on, say, Sundays. Which is why I am simply going to tell you how I do it – and hopefully give you some pointers how to incorporate meal prepping into an actual daily routine. Not just one you read about and then never end up actually doing.
1. Know your week
The most important thing about meal prepping isn’t actually preparing the meals. In my opinion, meal prepping starts with knowing what your week is going to look like, when you’re going to be home, when you’ll need warm/cold food, when you’ll need food that travels well or can be eaten quickly inbetween appointments. Of course, things may not go 100% as planned, but, having some sort of plan will definitely help you grocery shop and get cooking.
2. Start with breakfast
For me it is extremely important to prepare my breakfasts, as I get too stressed out otherwise about what I want to eat. Perhaps I’m a little extreme concerning that, but I feel like when I actually have something happening in the mornings (and now that I can no longer sleep in and spend my mornings doing whatever I like, that’s basically always), I don’t have the peace to listen to my body and prepare it something good. I end up taking the “easy” way out, which means a cup of coffee and fruit, and that ain’t gonna sustain me for a school day. So, if I prepare breakfast the night before, I don’t have to intuitively listen, or think, I can just sit down and eat. I have a few breakfasts on rotation throughout the week, which helps with balance, and makes sure I don’t get bored:
Overnight oats are a personal favorite, but I definitely don’t want to have them every day of the week. I usually prepare two servings, and then have one on Monday, and one on Wednesday. You can vary your toppings and your add-ins, making them quite versatile…I recently mixed my overnight oats with a left-over berry smoothie and some sheep’s yogurt, and it was so yummy!
Another staple is my spelt-semolina-porridge, topped with homemade plum sauce. My recipe makes 2 servings, and if you put it in your glass jar while it’s still hot and seal it, it will keep for a whole week (as it will create a vaccuum when it cools down).
3. Don’t forget snacks and treats
When I started meal-prepping, I often forgot about preparing myself goodies. I thought of all the main dishes, but forgot about my chocolate-cravings (which, if we’re all being honest, we all get at least once a week, right!?). I ended up eating a whole lot of chocolate by the end of week, simply because I had forgotten about treats. If you’re going to plan your meals, go ahead and plan the treats as well. I usually have 2 or 3 sweet options in the house.
This week, for example, I made my Cranberry Oat Blissballs and rolled half of them in shredded coconut, mixing it up a little.
I usually also have a clif bar or two around, as well as some soaked nuts. If you’ve never soaked nuts before, I really suggest you do, and not just to make nutmilk! Especially “hard” nuts like walnuts, brazil nuts or almonds. By soaking and then draining them, they are nice and crunchy but taste so much fresher and somehow crisp (as a fresh apple would). I love snacking on them as they are, or adding them to salads.
4. Basics will save you
Which brings me to my final tip: Don’t shy way from preparing basic, simple things. Meal-prepping doesn’t have to mean that you make gourmet dinners ahead of time to impress yourself with, after all, it’s for the days you’re too busy to care that you’re preparing meals, right? So make it easy on yourself, as you usually crave simple food on stressful days, anyway. The two basics I prepare EVERY week without fail are smoothie bags and salad dressing. Smoothie bags are super easy to make, and keep left-over salad or fruit from going bad. That’s a win/win, especially since you’ll only need to add the frozen bag content to a blender, wait for a few minutes and then blend it up with some liquid and perhaps add-ins like nutbutter, flax/chia seeds or superfoods.
Also, having a salad dressing prepared ahead of time will lead to you eating more salad; even more so if you cut up your lettuce and clean it, and put it into ziplock bags at the beginning of the week. I have found my cut up lettuce to stay fresh for up to 4 days in the fridge, which is awesome! I usually add a soaked cleenex to the ziplock bag, that helps to keep the lettuce clean. And if you prepare a salad dressing with vinegar (which everybody does, right!?), it will also keep for several day, for up to 5 days!
In this case, I made my every day salad dressing, which works with any kind of salad mixture.
Another basic staple I like to prepare is some cooked grains. Often times, a veggie-stirfry with some rice/quinoa/millet is all I need to feel healthy and satisfied, and that is inifintely quicker made if you’ve already cooked your grain beforehand. Cooked grains also freeze well, on case you did make too much.
Last but not least, I’d like to leave you with a very important message: meal-prepping is not supposed to stress you out. I feel like people trying to follow a certain health regime often get so caught up in it that it no longer feels healthy, but somehow hard and full of pressure. Always remember that meal-prepping is about making your life easier!
I have found a way of planning ahead that works for me, but I struggled with digressing from my “plan” for quite a while. Planning meals ahead of time can make life difficult if you’re a control freak like I am, so I want to encourage you to see your meal planning as a flexible concept, not a written law.
Ideally, thinking of what you’re going to eat approximately is going to help you grocery shop, reduce costs because you’re not overbuying, and will help you on busy days because you won’t have to think too much about what it is you would like to cook/eat. If you’re prone to controlling your food, though, be really careful with meal-planning, and only meal-prep basics like salad dressing, soaked nuts and salad bags, not whole meals. That’s also the reason I didn’t include any whole meals in this post; I do not want to encourage eating disorders and do not advocate for meal-prepping as a means to stay in control of how much (or little) you eat! Not to end on a too serious note, but, seeing as I know what it’s like to suffer from an ED I wanted to make sure I’m not triggering anybody!
For those of you who already meal – prep, I’d love to hear any other tips and tricks you have to make busy life easier. I hope I was able to give you some new input. 🙂