I love Friday. I mean, who doesn’t? Weekend is ahead. Maybe happy hour is ahead as well. But every week I found myself getting anxious on Fridays because of all the things I needed to accomplish over the weekend. Groceries. Errands. Cleaning. Kids activities. My activities. And, for the last year, meal prepping for the week.
Sundays are for relaxing, recharging, watching football and now, preparing food for the week! If you want to start making better food choices, you have to prepare. If you are looking to lose weight or maintain a weight and fitness level, meal prepping is an integral part of any strategy to stay healthy.
And, there’s science to back it up. A report from Johns Hopkins University found people who cook their own dinner most nights tend to consume less sugar, fat, and calories than people who rarely cook. At-home chefs eat about 140 fewer calories per day, which could add up to several pounds of added weight over the course of a year, the research suggests.
With a renewed focus on eating well (or at least better) and a desire to not spend so much money on eating out at lunch and dinner, I started doing Sunday meal prep earlier this year. I actually love it. It’s therapeutic for me. But it is super time consuming. Hours on a Sunday when I’m already trying to squeeze in other, arguably more important, things like watching or attending a @Steelers football game (#herewego). After several months of doing meal prep on Sundays, I’ve found ways to be more efficient. Here are my tips for getting more done with meal prep and so you don’t spend your entire day in the kitchen.
So, I wanted to share a few of my tips in hopes they help you. Want more? Message me and I will send you some of my favorite recipes and other tips for meal prep. My top 3 tips for meal prepping for the week.
Get real. Will you eat what you prep every day based on your schedule? Sit down with the fam or your sig other and look at your calendars. What meals will you realistically eat at home? Kids’ sports and other evening activities may squash your plans So, give yourself a pass on the days you won’t eat home-prepared meals and then focus on the meals you WILL eat. Same with lunches. Take into account work luncheons and other events that will keep you from sitting at your desk and eating your cute little prepped lunch.
Keep it simple. Don’t get overwhelmed by the idea of prepping every meal. Just get started. This is all about making nutritious meals that your family will like and keep you from ordering take out or eating a bowl of cereal. No need to get all culinary and fancy. Make what your family likes but choose the best ingredients.
Prep the big or time-consuming things. Pre-cooking meat, chopped veggies, salads, sauces. Don’t make these ahead of time…pasta, rice, potatoes. They won’t hold well for multiple days. You can easily make those as you heat up your pre-prepped meal. And, it gives you flexibility to choose a side or carb that you want, if at all.
Bonus tip: Make enough for leftovers for your lunches that week…might as well get as much out of your efforts as possible.
Here’s an example of how I get more done on Sundays…I start with the stove!
Pre-heat the oven to 425 for bacon. Yes, bacon. Uncured, all-natural if you can find it. Cook bacon about 15-20 minutes depending on how well done you like it. I love some burnt edges. Aldi has an all-natural brand that I love. I will post my Aldi favorites someday.
Put 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in your slow cooker with a cup of water added. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Season them ahead of time if you want with salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc.
Place 6-8 eggs in a pot, cover with water and put on the stove to make hardboiled eggs.
Brown 2 lbs. of grass-fed, lean beef for tacos, sloppy joes, spaghetti with meat sauce, etc.
While this stuff is cooking, I marinate any other meat that I will bake or grill that week or prep a roast for the crockpot later in the week.
Then, one the stovetop items are done and cooling, I focus on chopping and prepping veggies.
Precut lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, peppers and onions, etc. Anything you want to put in a salad or sauté later with one of the proteins you’ve prepped.
Most veggies can be frozen so don’t stress about having too much zucchini or peppers. I create veggie medleys in quart size baggies that I can take out quickly and steam or throw in pasta if need be. My most recent one:
Red and Green Peppers
My final step is really planning what meals we’ll eat on what days. Chili and tacos early in the week for ease of prep and leftovers for lunch (taco salad or chili over wild rice are my favorites). Crockpot meals mid-week or in the summer, grilling the meat I’ve prepped. And, count on one day for leftover roulette. Whatever is in the fridge from the meals is what we eat. Or, use leftover veggies in pasta or with some of the shredded chicken.
Meal prepping can seem overwhelming but it’s really not once you get organized and have a plan. And, you will love the benefits of home cooked, healthy meals. Plus, think of the money you’ll save by not ordering out during the week…more to spend at happy hour!