Meal prepping, batch cooking, bulk prepping. Call it what you may, the goal is the same. To ensure you are equipped to eat wholesome, nutrient dense meals and snacks while limiting highly processed junk.
In this blog post I want to address two topics I get asked about all the time – CONSISTENCY in maintaining healthy eating habits and CONQUERING CRAVINGS for junk food. I have addressed both in previous videos and social media posts but today I want to talk about one practise I do to eat healthy on a consistent basis and conquer my own cravings. Yes, I am talking about MEAL PREPPING. Now If you’re a busy mom and you want to ensure your family has healthy meals most nights then you’ll want to settle in with your cup of chai and read on.
Okay, so any time meal prep is spoken of, what I hear from women is:
Will it take too much time?
I don’t want to be slaving in the kitchen all day on my day off!
Well, yes and no. Firstly it’s all about mindset. If you feel like you’re “slaving” then it is unlikely the experience will be a positive one. Flip that script and think about how that effort in the kitchen will help save you time, money and energy and you will probably like it a whole lot better.
Below I have six tips on making meal planning/prepping less of a chore and more of an essential tool in your wellness kit. This is not an exhaustive list but what has worked for me and hopefully you’ll walk away with some practical steps to get started meal prepping or improve on a system you already have in place.
Are you ready? Here goes:
Do What Works For You
This is the first step in effective meal prepping. Figure out what your family’s needs are. Look at your schedule. Do you have a really busy week ahead? It can even vary from week to week and your meal prep doesn’t have to be the same throughout your life. There are different stages and different phases of life and you should adjust accordingly. When I first came across the term meal prep, it was mainly prepping containers with portioned out chicken breast, broccoli and rice. Now that may suit some but not a family with different preferences and nutrient requirements. My meal prep looks very different as I share below and in this video.
Make The Time
No, this does not mean spending all Sunday in the kitchen if you don’t want to. You can prep even in little pockets of 15 – 20 minutes if you want. I do both, there are days I immerse myself in a whole day of batch cooking and then there are days I’ll simply make a few jars of Chia Pudding which takes all of ten minutes. The call is yours. The point is to do some prep even if you start small and so as not to overwhelm yourself – which totally defeats the purpose anyways. Once you are more comfortable with meal prepping, you can take on more.
Semi Prep/ Bulk Prep Food.
If you family isn’t too keen on leftovers, you can always prep ingredients instead. Here’s how I prep them so that they are ready to go for weeknight cooking sessions.
- I chop up some onions and store them in small portions, enough for one curry in my freezer. This saves so much time when I am getting ready to cook.
- I also do ginger and garlic much like this especially since I want to avoid the store bought varieties that have preservatives and additives. There really is nothing quite like fresh garlic and ginger. They are medicinal in nature and should be eaten fresh so that their anti-inflammatory properties can be taken advantage of.
- I cut up cucumbers and carrots and keep in containers to have veggies on demand. It is much easier to eat your nutrients when they are in front of you rather than have them in some obscure corner of the produce drawer.
- I marinate meats for dinner later on in the week.
As far as bulk prep goes:
- I often make granola bites or Date Balls so that I have nutrient dense snacks handy when teenage hunger strikes between meals!
- Make kebabs and quesadillas and freeze them so that the kids can take out and heat as required.
- I also like to make some chia pudding for myself. I’ll make the pudding and store it and then add fruit and nuts on top when I am ready to eat.
Cook Once, Eat Twice.
Since my family is ok with leftovers, I often tend to make a double batch of curry so that I don’t have to cook every day. We’ll eat the meal again next day or recycle the chicken from the curry for quick quesadillas and salads for lunch the next day. I also like to make some extra rice, lentils and other grains so that I have some for the next couple of meals. I have a teenager in the house and he often will have leftovers for breakfast so I always make some extra grains and store leftovers in the refrigerator.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Frozen or Prepackaged Foods.
Guess what? Meal prep doesn’t necessarily mean everything has to be made from scratch! Don’t have the time to wash and chop your own fruits and veggies? Get frozen ones. The frozen variety is picked at its peak and has the same amount of nutrients as its fresh version if not more! Yes, you will have to pay a premium most times but if you are diligent about sales and pressed for time then this is the way to go.
I also buy prepackaged coleslaw and other pre washed leafy greens. The one thing I would say though is that it is probably a good idea to rinse out said leafy greens as you can’t always guarantee how well they have been cleaned at the seller’s end.
Pantry items like canned beans, chickpeas and tuna are also great to have on hand for quick lunches and salads.
Invest In Good Quality Storage Containers
Glass containers are a great investment not only for the fact that they are BPA & BPS free, both endocrine disruptors, but also because they are good for the earth. I use Glasslock containers as well as mason jars and I often recycle glass condiment jars as well. Ikea is also a great resource as their containers appeal to my love for simple, modern design.
Listen to a Podcast or Audiobook
This is something I have started doing lately. It is one of the few times I truly believe in multi tasking. When you have mundane tasks like washing, chopping and storing to do, it’s a good time to have something good in your ears. Now your attention may be a tad divided but it has worked really well for me and makes the time go by really fast!
Alright! These were my tips for getting started with meal prepping. I hope they help you to get organized and reduce some of the overwhelm that comes with modern day living! Have any you’d like to share? Let me know below! It always means a lot when I get feedback from you! Also, tag me in your meal prep pics on Instagram @eatdrinkpure
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