Getting ready for work, school or just to face the day can be stressful, and so many of us forget to prepare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We end up skipping meals or not eating at all. This may lead to many health problems including weight gain, diabetes and an overall decrease in your immunity and energy levels. However, by simply meal prepping once a week, you can combat these unnecessary stress and health risks. Let’s discuss how.
Meal Prepping Basics – What You Should Know
The first thing you should do is pick a day of the week that works best for you because meal prepping (for the upcoming week) is going to take a little time. After you’ve mastered the prep, you will be able to move more swiftly. Just be patient the first few times; you’ll get the hang of this. Once you have a day that will allow you the time, sit down and make a list of foods to buy at the grocery store. Just make sure you stick to the list and buy enough (tip: buy in bulk) of the same foods to last for several meals.
The following is a suggested list of healthy foods and prep items to have:
- Chicken breasts/Shrimp/Ground Turkey
- Steamer Bags of Frozen Veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, asparagus, peppers, etc.)
- Fresh Veggies (carrots, celery, radishes, peppers, broccoli, etc.)
- Plastic Storage Bags
- Plastic Meal Containers
- Quinoa/Brown Rice
- Sweet Potatoes
- Fresh Fruit (grapes, apples, oranges, berries, bananas, etc.)
You can customize each meal prep to your individual palate. After cleaning the food, it’s time to prepare it all. Have fun with this part, get creative and expand your palatal horizons!
Tips for Preparation
An easy way to prepare all your protein at once is to use a grill. If you don’t have a grill, the oven is fine. You can put several chicken breasts on/in at the same time. The same goes for shrimp; skewer them in between onion and peppers for a healthy and delicious meal. The ground turkey can be made into patties and you’ve got turkey burgers for the grill or oven as well.
Take your eggs and place them in a pot of water on the stove top to hard-boil them. All of these foods can be cooked on the grill, stove top or in the oven while you use a microwave to steam your bags of vegetables, rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes. The fruit and fresh vegetables can be put into small plastic bags for snacking. Just be mindful of the portion size.
While the food is cooking, get all of your meal prep containers out and ready to go. Line them up on the counter and start an assembly line. Add to each container a protein, a vegetable and a carbohydrate. Once you have all the healthy foods in the containers, put the tops on. Make sure they are sealed properly and put them in the refrigerator or freezer. Any extra or leftover foods can be put into plastic storage bags for snacking. You can create labels for the bags or containers to take the guesswork out of each meal. This will allow you to grab-and-go.
Once you get into the habit of meal prepping for the week, you will find that your time in the kitchen becomes less and less. You will have reduced your stress level(s), given yourself some free time and will be eating healthier — all of which will help you look and feel your best! What are you waiting for? Get prepping today because being prepared does a mind and body good!
About the Author:
Natalie-Jean Schiavone, PhD, has more than 15 years of experience in the healthcare industry. After receiving her Master’s degree in General Psychology, Natalie-Jean went on to complete her doctoral degree in Health Psychology, with a specialization in obesity. Dr. Schiavone conducted her research and completed her dissertation on female adolescents with obesity and their social experiences. Using her education, experience and expertise, Dr. Schiavone works with her patients to create a healthier lifestyle where knowledge is a key factor in this modification.