1)Plan a weekly date (to do interrogation) with your calendar
Set out 1 day of the week you will spend the time to interrogate what kind of obstacles or opportunities you or your family schedule will reveal.
Do we have any activities after work? Will we have to rush home for dinner? If so, it’s better to be prepared with something quick and easy for last minute meals.
How busy are my days – and will I feel too tired to cook? What can I make now that I can pull out of the freezer (maybe meatballs or salmon) and pop in the oven? Then I can just prepare a salad and be done with the meal.
What will I be eating this week and where? Am I having lunch and snack at work at the office? So I know that if I don’t have a healthy snack option, it’s harder to make good choices.
When I have a sense of the upcoming week, I can make sure I have what I need in the fridge. If my fridge is a mess, so am I.
2)Take stock of what’s in the fridge on Sundays – and get creative.
One of the reasons I’ve committed to meal prepping is because I hate pinching snack from my shelves when I am too tired or didn’t plan to cook something that I end up with an unhealthy option. There is nothing more guilty than eating that bag of crackers, chips or leftover pizza during the week. You worked so hard in the gym or eat healthy for the past few days. So I channel my inner chef and try to figure out a use for my leftover veggies, meat, and fruits. Maybe all I need is a little rice or taco wrap to make lunch out of some chicken and peppers.
While I am preparing I use this time to listen to one of my favorite podcast or audiobook, so I can activate my brain while working. It makes me feel even more productive if I learn something while making things with my hands. It helps me get into the zone.
3)Lean into meal prep momentum to make life easier later in the week
Always be thinking, “what can I do now that will save time later?” Committing the extra effort ahead of time pays off in spades.
If I’m already prepping something for one dish, I ride the productivity wave and do as many additional small things as I can. For example, if I am making hard boiled eggs with the intention of making it for breakfast or snack during the week, I’ll toss in a few more so I can also make an egg salad.
Feeling unmotivated? Take a trip to the grocery shop and see all shelves of costly ingredients already prepped. Look at the prices and realize how much more you have to pay when you don’t take the time to do it yourself. I bet you’ll find the energy to keep prepping!
4)Seize the opportunity to put healthy choices on autopilot
If I don’t have options in my fridge, my brain tells my hands to reach for whatever is easiest. How hard is it to grab a bag of pretzels? Not hard at all. How hard is it to grab chopped carrots and that hummus you made? Also pretty dang easy — but only if you take the time to set yourself up for success.
Cut-up fruits and veggies to snack on are a must, but I also love to take advantage of the oven. Roasted vegetables are great in salads, blended in soups, thrown into burritos or enchiladas, or heated up later in the week over rice.
5)Make soup with it – and for later
Soups are also a great way to prep and use up vegetables – especially when things don’t go as planned. Use overlapping items where you can mix and match when you are short for time. Like when I buy pork or carrots. But I don’t get around to using them. I know that if I can simply make them into a simple soup that tastes delicious. Then I know I can keep it for later by making sure to put a few single servings of whatever soup I make in the freezer so I can heat it up for lunch during the week. Your future self will thank you for being so thoughtful — I promise.
6)Be best friends with the freezer
My freezer is a lifesaver for all those times when we have leftovers. Make too many meatballs? Freeze ‘em and put them in an impromptu tomato sauce later in the week. Look at that – you have instant spaghetti and meatballs!
The freezer helps things feel like pure alchemy on a weeknight when you have absolutely no energy after working all day. Plus, it lets you keep leftovers without having to eat the same meal again right away, which means you won’t get sick of them and end up letting them waste away in the fridge.
7)Make something sweet for the week
Who likes a sweet threat? I do!
Having a threat at home means I or my family are not tempted to drop $7 on a coffee and a sweet in a coffee shop. Rather at home when I have overripe bananas ($4~5 per kg) I can make a whole loaf that can satisfy me and my family for the week. Otherwise, I will choose my simple protein ball recipe as my go-to snack.
8)Regularly try something new to shake it up – and learn more about what you love.
Meal prepping can quickly become redundant and bland if you always make the same things. I like to challenge myself to use a new ingredient each week. It doesn’t have to be anything major, but it keeps my weeks fun and lively. And sometimes, as a result, I find new staples to rely on. When you think of it as “research,” you’ll find it’s so much easier to build your solid-gold meal rotation arsenal.
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