It’s no secret that I love my Sunday meal prep! It really is the number one way I’m able to stay on track with my eating and it also just starts my week off with a healthy, fresh mind set. Having all my meals planned out and my fridge deliciously stocked also makes me look really forward to my workouts for that week! Remember if you “fail to plan, plan to fail!”
Hey a New Year, a new YOU, right??
There are multiple benefits to meal prepping:
Less cheating! Yep this is sooo true guys. When I prep my meals every Sunday, I make a point to only purchase those items that are on my grocery list so this helps keep those little moments of weakness under control because guess what, if it’s not in my house, then I can’t eat it!
Saves you money. At least this is true for us! I don’t know about you, but before meal planning we tended to just wing it each night, either by running out to the store after work to make whatever we were in the mood for that night, ordering in or spending even more money on going out. This is also true for our lunches! With my hubby working in the city and myself working right next to a Chipotle (how convenient right?) we were spending SO much money each week on lunches and dinners alone! Now we’re able to plan a week’s worth of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and even healthy snacks for all around $100 each week. We don’t waste as much food now either!
HUGE time saver. Not only does meal prepping help us stay on track with consistent healthy eating, but it also gives us more time in the evenings to work out, relax or really do whatever we want besides rushing home to cook! This is such a life saver because, I mean let’s be honest, after working a 9 to 5 job, sitting in traffic, changing for the gym and rushing home to make dinner in the hopes of eating before 9 PM, I tend to want to either skip the gym or order take out. So this is huge!
Helps meet your fitness goals. I know I already said this, but this is really important. When you plan out your meals ahead of time not only are you learning portion control, but fueling your body with wholesome nutritional food just makes you want to work out that much more! It’s so true when they say that “abs are made in the kitchen” – your body requires healthy food for endurance, strength and even weight loss so it’s a no-brainer that consistent meal planning should coincide with your fitness routine. I always plan out my workouts each week in the same notebook I write down all my meals with, this really helps me stay on track!
Gives a great variety! Sometimes planning out meals each week can get a little monotonous since I tend to have a few go-to meals that I’m absolutely addicted to making, but one thing I have committed to doing is trying out at least 1 or 2 new recipes each week! If we like the dish then we’ll add it into the rotation and if we don’t, well we just won’t make it again. I mean hey, at least we tried something new! My favorite way of doing this is by using my “Clean Eating” Pinterest board where I’m constantly adding delicious new recipes to try!
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be hard either, you just have to commit to it first in your mind and plan the rest out from there! Start off by making a list of all of your favorite healthy dishes – Pinterest is my favorite place to start OR you can find my favorite clean eating recipes here on my blog – then plan your dinners first. Once you have your dinners planned out you can then decide which ones make great leftovers for lunches the next day so that no food goes to waste and saves you time in the kitchen! Having a a cute notebook or calendar makes this much easier and fun too!
Here is a meal planning chart I created for easy convenience, you can print that HERE!
I’ll share all my favorite recipes below, but first let’s talk about containers, shall we? I can’t tell you how important these are to have on hand because you’re prepping anywhere from 10 to 20+ separate meals each week (I prep my husband’s meals too so extra containers are a MUST for us annnnnd he’s constantly leaving them at work too so yeah the’re that……) I personally LOVE using Snapware containers because not only do they offer a large variety of products, but they have lots of other great benefits too!
– They’re BPA-Free.
– They are airtight and leak-proof with 4 separate latches locking the lids in place making them super convenient to take to and from work or on-the-go.
– They have write n’ erase lids which are, well, FUN! They are also color coordinated which makes it easy to match them up when storing.
– They are easy to store with a great nestable design.
– They are also safe to use in the microwave, refrigerator, freezer and dishwasher.
– Best of all you receive a Limited Lifetime Warranty!
I mean who doesn’t want they’re fridge looking like that??
If you aren’t interested in using Snapware, I also have a set of THESE meal prep containers at home that I love using and are super affordable as well! You really can’t go wrong though with whatever you choose, just know that having sets of washable containers on hand really makes prepping food so much easier each week.
Now on to the FOOD!
Ok finally the reason you are probably here – the recipes! I definitely have many go-to recipes that I religiously make on a weekly basis. Yes my husband begs for more of a variety, but hey I guess I know what I like! I like making things that yield a ton of food all at once like my crock pot salsa chicken, clean turkey chili or cauliflower fried rice, for example. I’ll also make a massive salad to last me all week with tons of veggies in it like this Asian chicken salad and one of my favorite go-to weekly dinners is my lemon chicken with thyme. The lemony sauce from that dish goes great on top of all sorts of veggies too! To put meal prepping into perspective, here is an example of my typical day:
Breakfast: 1 banana breakfast muffin with a side of fruit
Midday snack: 2 hard boiled eggs and a hand full of almonds
Lunch: spicy sausage and veggie stir fry with a side salad
Midday snack: celery sticks (or sliced bell peppers) with hummus
I mean how good does all that look?!
Another thing I like to do that makes meal prepping super easy especially when I’m running out of creative ideas is making a big batch of roasted sweet potatoes, a big batch of roasted greens like broccoli, asparagus and green beans, a delicious big salad to last me all week, and a variety of lean proteins like chicken, turkey and fish. I’ll also add quinoa or brown rice to this combination as well just to change things up. Then simply just divide everything up into separate containers and you’re ready to go for the week! Throw in some healthy snacks like fruit, nuts or granola bars and you really can’t go wrong! I love making my own “Kind” bars and you can get that recipe here if you’d like. I’ll keep a stash of these snacks in my desk at work so I always have healthy options no matter what.
So as you can see it really isn’t that hard to plan everything out! I plan all my meals out the week before, write them into my notebook (I’m actually using this super cute one by Skinnytaste!) along with all my workouts for that week, then make a grocery list for everything I need to get based on the meals I have planned out. Then I go to the store either Saturday afternoon or first thing Sunday morning – it’s completely dead at 8 am on Sunday mornings and it’s my FAVORITE time to go because all the fresh veggies are fully stocked! Once I’ve gone to the store, I come home and start the crock pot first if I have any meals that require that, then start my chopping. I’ll line all my pans with foil and roast my veggies all at once while other things are cooking on the stove like hard boiled eggs, quinoa or even chicken. This is also when I like to do some baking for the week like these banana breakfast muffins or protein muffins.
I’m usually done with everything around noon and still have the rest of my day left to enjoy! Don’t worry if this takes you longer to do the first time you start, you’ll get into a normal routine as the weeks go on and this will all become second nature to you. The first time I meal prepped it literally felt like I had been cooking ALL day long, but the end result made me feel SO incredibly accomplished and really excited to start the week!
One thing I sometimes do to make things a little easier is I will only prep my breakfasts and lunches on Sundays and the rest of the week I’ll come home and make dinner as usual each night. Honestly I often prefer this (if I have the time) because dinner always tastes 10x better freshly cooked! You can still plan this out of course and purchase all your weekly ingredients on Sunday, this is just something I personally like to do. Everyone is different with varying schedules each week so do what works for YOU!
Remember living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be difficult, you should totally have fun with it! Step outside your comfort zone and try new recipes or head to that new yoga class your girlfriend has been raving about. Small changes can make a world of difference.