Meal prepping is key to maintaining a healthy diet. It provides you with delicious healthy meals anytime hunger pains trigger you into eating breakfast, lunch or dinner. But who has time anymore?
When I first started working in the airline industry, I found out how important it was for my lifestyle. If I didn’t pack a meal for work, I didn’t eat for 10-14 hours (working on a plane all day has some downsides…). I also found after working a long shift and eating minimally throughout the day, I would cave at restaurants and order so much greasy, unhealthy food (hello burgers and poutines!)
To keep cravings at bay, and because I have no self-control, meal prepping helped me maintain my weight and feel good.
The first year or so I found prepping my meals for work would take up an entire day off. The last thing I wanted to do was spend six to eight hours on my day off grocery shopping and cooking. It was either eat or starve, and I love to eat, so I didn’t have much of a choice.
Since then, I’ve developed ways to save time and energy on meal prepping. I can prep meals for four or five days in less than an hour. Now I’m going to share my wisdom with you.
1. What Do You Have in Your Fridge/ Pantry?
Not only is this a huge time saver in the grocery store, it’ll also save you money. The last time I meal prepped, I noticed I had zucchini, spaghetti squash, shrimps and chicken. I did a quick search of some recipes on my favourite blogs and made up a list of meals to make and what else I needed to pick up. It can also help narrow down ideas on what to make for your lunches and dinner.
2. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead will help you avoid spending excess time at the grocery store, buying stuff you don’t need or wont use, as well as saving time figuring out what to make after the fact. There are a few things I take into consideration when I plan out my meals.
- What’s in my fridge?
- Where am I going for work? (USA = no fruits or veggies without labels)
- How many days am I away for or how many meals do I need to make?
- What meats, methods of cooking, or types of cuisine do I feel like eating?
- What healthy snacks can I make?
- How much time do I have to cook, shop and prep?
After I take all of these things into consideration, I start my recipe searches and planning.
3. Buy Pre-made Items
This is not something I always do, but when I am short for time, it definitely saves me. Why I don’t do it all the time is that pre-chopped or pre-cooked meats usually cost a little more. When I know I don’t have much time; I like to buy a roasted chicken, pre-packed salads, spirilized veggies, laura bars, popped popcorn etc.
4. Do Your Shopping Online
Wish you could cut out an hour of two of grocery shopping out of your day? Well in todays digital age, you now can avoid line-ups, crowds, annoying people, carrying your groceries to and from your car parked a mile away in -30 weather, and annoying people (did I say that already?). Many grocery stores (or even amazon in some places) offer us the option to pick out our groceries online and order them. Usually a small fee is included in this service, but if your strapped for time its totally worth it.
5. Use Multiple Cooking Appliances
I get bored eating the same thing everyday. Because of this, I tend to make a few different meals when I’m prepping for the week. But if you plan on sautéing every meal on the stove or baking five different meals, your time gets wasted sitting around waiting for one thing to cook at a time. This is where utilizing different cooking techniques comes in handy. I’ll usually set up something in the slow cooker in the morning, cook rice in the rice cooker, bake chickpeas and sweet potatoes in the oven, and then stir fry up a delicious (but healthy) stir fry. Just make sure when you do this you are organized, have timers set, or whatever you need to do to stay on top of everything.
6. Use the Same Protein in More Than One Meal
Yaaaaaaassssss! This is so crucial you don’t even know. If you cook up some chicken in the slow cooker, use that for a burrito bowl and for a spicy chicken salad. Boom! Two meals completed. I don’t think I really have to explain this much more.
7. Invest in a Slow Cooker
The best thing about a slow cooker is that you just throw a bunch of ingredients into a giant pot and leave it for four hours and something delicious comes out. It’s so easy and you don’t even have to think about it. Yay! It cooks a whole meal for you while you focus on cooking something else.
8. Make More Than One Serving of Your Dinners Throughout the Week
If I’m home for a few days before I have to leave for work, I always make extra of each meal I cook at home so I can bring it with me on the road. Saves a lot of time on the day of reckoning (ie. Meal prep day) when you already have meals to bring with you.
9. Frozen Vegetables
Making a stir fry? Chicken and veggies? A warm salad? Frozen vegetables will save your life. You don’t have to worry about washing and chopping, just toss these bad boys into a frying pan or an oven and you’ve got a meal. It’s also a great timesaver to have a few different bags of mixed veggies in the fridge for anytime you’re cooking.
10. Don’t Even Make Breakfast
I’m going to blow your mind right now. You don’t have to cook anything for breakfast ever again. Say whaaaaaaa???
I legit pack oats, a container of peanut butter and blueberries with my for breakfast. Then I add hot water to my oats or microwave them and add the blueberries and peanut butter. So easy, so quick. And little meal prepping required.