Meal planning / prepping is one of the absolute essential things I must do every week – not just for my health but for my sanity. I have written about it before, but I think that it is a good wellness topic to revisit. Not only are you getting (hopefully) healthy meals together and avoiding going the take out route, you are also getting more organized and taking a little stress off your week by being ahead of the game.
I am not really big on eating out. We may grab lunch out on the weekends, and we almost always have pizza on Friday nights, but other than that, we don’t eat out or get take out a lot. My system just doesn’t do well like that. I have a really hard time on vacation if we eat out a lot. I am a much happier person if I have mostly home cooked meals.
I leave for work at 7:30 in the morning and I generally don’t get home until between 6:15 and 6:20. And by that time, I do not feel like cooking a meal. So I spend a decent part of my Sunday afternoon cooking and prepping food for the week. Is it very much fun? No. Does it guarantee I am going to be more prepared for the week and armed with healthy food? Absolutely.
I have found that there are 2 ways to go about meal planning / prepping, and I think it really just depends on what works for you and your family as to which way you do it. Also, you can do a little bit of both.
So the first way is to go ahead and make however many dishes you need for the week. This is what I do. Since there are only 2 of us, we only need 2 – 3 dishes for the week (plus my lunches, which sometimes I take leftovers). So, for example, a couple of nights we might have baked chicken, some roasted veggies and a salad. And then a couple of nights we might have lasagna and some Italian spinach. I go ahead cook my chicken and veggies, make my lasagna (I usually won’t bake it until the night we eat it but all I have to do is throw it in the oven). So basically I am just heating everything up and making a salad. I do make my Italian spinach the night we eat it, but it only takes like 20 minutes to throw together. A lot of times I make a pot of soup for the week and go ahead and put it in the containers for the entire week so all I have to do is grab a container and a spoon before work. I find that this approach works best for me. I don’t have to think about anything, and I know I am completely set for the week.
The other way of going about it is by prepping a bunch of ingredients, and then deciding what you want to do with it as the week goes on. For example, you might cook 4 chicken breasts, roast some veggies, cook a pot of rice, chop some lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc. So one night you have a chicken breast and some roasted veggies. One night you make chicken tacos with the lettuce and onion and tomato. One night you do a quick stir fry with the chicken, veggies and rice. Maybe you have a big salad. I’ve seen a lot of people do it this way, and if that works for you, that is awesome. My brain just needs things to be more planned out than that.
So this month’s wellness challenge is to give meal planning and prepping a try. If this is something you struggle with, I promise it will change your week if you give it a try!
And if you are looking for some healthy recipe ideas, I wrote about some of my favorites a few months ago.
Last month’s challenge was to try something new. How did you do? My focus was on continuing to bike at least 1x a week, and I did pretty good. I am looking forward to keeping it up in the fall!
Do you already meal prep? How do you go about it?