When you’re on the run + always in *go-mode*, it can be hard to stop moving + sit down for *any* meal, let alone one that’s yummy + healthy. Grabbing food on-the-go + snacking throughout the day may only satisfy our hunger for a bit — so how can we balance our schedule to give our bodies what they *need*, instead of opting for what’s *most convenient*? It’s simple — plan ahead so you’re always prepared!
Meal planning + prepping is an easy way to keep our eating + nutritional habits in check + can help us save money for other essentials [FITionista gear, anyone? ; )]. Having fresh, nutrient-dense meals ready to go throughout the week saves time from having to cook [or worse, clean] after a long day of work + classes. ++ You won’t need to worry about finding a *healthy option* while eating on the run.
Like anything new, figuring out the best practices takes time, + cooking so much food can be daunting. But meal prepping isn’t rocket science + with a little research + planning ahead, you’ll be meal prepping #LikeABoss before you know it : ).
#1] PLAN AHEAD
Before shopping or starting to cook, go through your Pinterest feed, a few food blogs, + your favorite CHAARG recipes [duh ; )] to make a meal schedule for the week. Laying everything out ahead of time will help you plan around your cravings + make good use of ingredients you already have.
When picking recipes + building meals, try to pick 2-4 a week so you can rotate what you eat for lunch//dinner each day + save yourself from boredom. One of the hardest parts about meal prepping is overcoming the potential for *hitting a rut* by the end of the week. Giving yourself options is crucial to avoiding food boredom.
++ Don’t forget to make sure you have enough tupperware to keep everything fresh + portable.
#2] GIVE YOURSELF VARIETY + VERSATILITY
When you’re planning your meals for the week, it’s important to give yourself variety + flexibility as much as possible. You may find yourself getting tired of similar meals + flavors after a few days, so we recommend trying to keep your veggies, proteins, + grains as *plain* as possible so you can add other flavors like balsamic vinegar or a light dressing later to keep things interesting.
But don’t worry — if you like to marinade or season your foods *before* cooking, you can still cook them at the same time. To prevent overlap or *spillage* between flavors, create a barrier between the two with aluminum foil — it’ll keep the sauces separated + make clean up much quicker for you ; ).
#3] KEEP TO YOUR LIST
Going into a grocery shopping trip without a list is like going on a road trip without your GPS [or at least a map] — you need a set strategy or you’ll get distracted by everything else along the way. ++ we know that caving to temptation is easy, but a key to meal prepping success is only purchasing what you need. Buying too much of what you want can lead to excess food waste because you’re unable to eat everything within its optimal shelf life. ++ It adds unwanted temptation when you’re trying to stay healthy. Protip — Don’t grocery shop while you’re hungry. Trust us, it makes everything easier ; ).
#4] PREP WITHOUT COOKING
If you don’t mind taking the time to cook each night + prefer a *fresh* hot meal rather than reheating food, you can still take steps to save yourself time throughout the week. Take time early in the week to chop + *prep* your veggies so they’re ready + waiting when it’s time to cook. When you’re getting home from a long day of classes or work, chances are you’re probably feeling a *little* sluggish by the time you walk in the door. Getting as much of the tedious + slow prep work out of the way [like peeling, chopping, etc.] can cut down your start to finish cooking time ++ you still won’t have to worry about finding *what* you’ll eat when you get home.
#5] BULK PREP WHEN POSSIBLE
This can be *especially* helpful for making sure that you get a nutrient-dense breakfast to keep you energized throughout the morning [we get it — a couple extra Z’s can be way more appealing than getting up + cooking breakfast each morning]. Breakfast burritos + smoothies are great breakfast options that can also be individually wrapped + stored in the freezer so you can grab + prepare when it’s needed.
#6] DEDICATE THE TIME
Meal prepping is most effective when you can get it all done at once. Yes, cooking a week’s worth of meals + snacks is time consuming, but after you’ve finished, the rest of your week will be infinitely easier. You can pick whichever day works for you, but we recommend blocking off a couple hours on Sunday to work your meal prep magic. Spending your day cooking is a nice way to *zone out* + destress before the week picks up, + you’ll be all prepped + ready before Monday begins.
How do you meal prep #LikeABoss? Share your meal prep tips + tag @chaarg + #CHAARGeats!
Ali [@ali.inchaarg], virtCHAARG girl from Philly