When it comes to making lasting changes, the most difficult part seems to be consistency and planning. Most people start out doing well, being committed and organized then one thing happens that throws them off kilter and meal prep is no longer a part of their routine. How do I know this? Been there, done that.
I get it, a proper meal prep does take time and organization but I think most of it is about mindset. You have to be okay with having to incorporate an extra step into your day. Change, unfortunately will not just show up as if by osmosis. Sure it would be nice, but if you're set on chaining the way you eat, whether you're trying to improve your gut health or lose weight, you have to meal prep.
Why meal prep
In order to successfully change the way you eat, meal prepping is key. Unless you're extremely organized and have loads of time on your hand every day to prepare meals from scratch, meal prepping is going to ensure that you have ample healthy prepared food on hand during stressful and busy times. You'll thank yourself.
The basics of meal prep
Pick a few recipes - There are so many options and variations of recipes on the internet but what's important is that you pick a few meal prep recipes that are easy enough for you to stick with. You can add variations to them but you know that they're simple for you to put together without overwhelm. More on recipes below.
Choose a day of the week - For me this is usually Sunday. Choosing 2 hours to make everything for the week, will pay off. You won't be tempted to quickly pick up something when you've invested precious time and energy in your meal prep.
Basic ingredients - In order to be prepared and have everything on hand, get your basic ingredients when you grocery shop so you're less likely to skip the meal prep portion of your day. You can get a free copy of the mostly paleo shopping list when you sign up for the calm eats newsletter.
Don't look at it as a chore - When you change your mindset from it being a dreaded thing you have to do to this is an investment for your health you will find enjoyment in doing so. While you're at it, play your favorite music, have a glass of wine or tea or whatever you're into. Make the experience pleasurable and you'll associate meal prepping with pleasure every time. (Yes, a little psychology goes a long way)
Have enough containers - This probably seems obvious but again, if you invest in the proper containers, you're more likely to stick with meal prep. Having the proper tools is key.
Make it exciting - Meal prep does not mean boring. Play around with spices and different flavors and don't be afraid to experiment. No one wants to eat boiled chicken.
The right gadgets - Most of us have an oven and some of us have grills and if we're lucky we even own a crock pot or an Instant Pot. These will become your meal prep best friends. Use them often and in creative ways.
Get others involved - If you share your home with someone else and feel like you'll miss out on stuff while working on your weekly meal prep, get them involved. Whether it's a partner or children, ask them to pitch in. They can peel vegetables, get containers ready or help you with making one of the dishes. It's more likely they'll want to eat better when they're involved in the process.
Start small - If you're just starting out, I recommend focusing on one or two recipes and going from there. Starting with vegetables and chicken for lunch or having all your breakfasts made for the week, will ensure that you're going to stick with it.
Make it routine- you know how you get in the shower, do your thing, dry off, get ready and don't really invest much mental energy because you know every step of the process as if on autopilot? It's routine. Incorporating your weekly meal prep in your routine will ensure that it's something you're not going to easily abandon as it will be part of your day.
Meal prep foods
Now that we covered some of the basics of meal prep, let's look at some staple foods you may want to use for your meal prep. These are just suggestions and you can tailor them according to your preference.
- sweet potatoes
- bell peppers
- sweet onion
- brussels sprouts
- butternut squash
- wild rice
- white rice
- brown rice
- if strict paleo, use cauliflower rice instead (recipe below)
Grilled or baked meat/seafood
- tuna steak
- beans of your choice (skip if strict Paleo or Whole 30)
- egg salad
- hard boiled eggs
- mini frittatas
- bell peppers
- romaine lettuce
- mixed greens
Nuts, seeds and nut butters
- peanuts (skip if Paleo or Whole 30)
- macadamia nuts
- pumpkin seeds
- sunflower seeds
- almond butter
- cashew butter
- peanut butter (skip if Paleo or Whole 30)
Meal prep recipes
The great thing about meal prep is that you can get creative and do what works for you. These are my go to recipes for meal prep. Links are in the titles.
Coconut chocolate pancakes
These are just some suggestions for getting you off to a good start with your meal prep. And again, start with one or two recipes, focus on those and expand from there. Good luck and let me know how it goes!