Do you have a hard time fitting in healthy meals throughout the week? Chances are, you just let out a big sigh because the struggle is real.
Here are some simple steps to help you save time and energy in the kitchen that can become a seamless part of your routine.
Plan ahead. Meal planning is a biggie when it comes to setting yourself up for healthy choices throughout the week. Strategizing meals ahead of time helps take the guesswork out of the game and provides a plan for times you might otherwise be scrambling.
The basic principle of meal planning is to identify what you are going to eat for most (or all) meals throughout the week.
Take a few minutes on the weekend to identify healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners that need to be prepped or will be eaten out (bonus points for looking at the menu ahead of time to choose a few healthy options!). Once you have a plan, make a shopping list and hit up the grocery store for the week to stock your kitchen (and your day) with healthy foods.
Visualize it. As you are planning your week of nutritious eats, write it down! I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time remembering where I put my car keys, let alone what I planned for a few days in advance.
If you have a family, writing out the meals for the week can help get everyone on board by eliminating any “surprises” which can lead to moaning and groaning at the dinner table.
Prep what you need ahead of time, but not everything. The point of meal prepping is to alleviate some of the time and stress it takes to prepare healthy foods for the week.
Maybe you only prepare breakfast ahead of time by making overnight oats a few days in advance or a nutritious smoothie the night before. Or perhaps you know you are going to be working late a few days and need to prep only those dinners ahead of time.
Sometimes, convenience wins. When it comes to healthy eating on-the-go, I like to have a backup with me. This is where convenience often wins! Stocking up on healthier convenient foods that can be easily packed in a lunch bag or kept in your desk drawer for when the hunger strike hits helps prevent the need to grab the nearest quick (often unhealthy) food at the drive thru or breakroom.
Some of my favorite “convenient” foods include: an assortment of raw or lightly-salted nuts, whole fruits, already-cut veggies, individual servings of hummus/guacamole, nutritious bars (RXbars, larabars and KIND bars without the chocolate coating) and Greek yogurt.
Here are some of my favorite “make ahead” ideas to help you get started:
- Breakfast: Overnight oats, egg muffins and healthy smoothies
- Mains: Grilled chicken breasts, roasted vegetables (for an easy side or salad topping!), mason jar salads, healthy one-dish wonders (like these black bean and spinach enchiladas) and soups (during the cooler months)
- Snacks: energy bites and chia pudding
Happy planning and prepping for a less stressful week ahead!