Planning ahead to eat healthy during the workweek is a simple way to build a healthy diet into your routine while also allowing for a little ad lib fun on the weekends. But even for those of us who aim to eat well during the week, it’s easy to get derailed when there’s nothing quick/exciting in the fridge, or when we’re running late and have to cobble together a lunch of pre-packaged granola bars.
Eating healthy throughout the week is much easier with a little planning & preparation.
Once you know what you’re aiming for, you can shop smart and spend a couple of hours each week stocking your fridge with foods you can easily grab and take to lunch each day. And, if you’re short on time in the evenings, these same foods can double as dinner ingredients.
The basics of healthy eating
Though “healthy eating” can (and should!) look a bit different for each person, the basics are simple:
Focus on real food, lots of veggies, and things that you like!
Of course, there’s lots more to it—you’ll need a balanced diet that contains all the necessary macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat), and that’s diversified enough that you’re getting all your essential micronutrients too (the vitamins and minerals that are in different foods in varying quantities).
But, “healthy eating” doesn’t have to be just salads and tofu and expensive goji berries—there’s plenty of flexibility for eating healthfully while also emphasizing simple, everyday foods you actually like!
How to meal prep for healthy meals
Effective meal prep starts with a good plan. Here’s how we break it down:
1. Make a list of what you like.
First, jot down ideas of meals that you like! It’s helpful to keep a list of recipe ideas you come across. The list could be on paper, on your phone, or on a Pinterest board—whatever works best for you.
2. Outline your weekly menu.
Second, choose some recipes to outline your weekly menu. You can plan out specific recipes you’d like to make, or simply note “big salad” or “macro bowl” (some protein + some complex carbs + some healthy fats) for certain meals. (More tips on those below!)
3. Make a list of the ingredients you’ll need.
And finally, go through your menu, making a list of what you’ll need for the week. Streamline grocery shopping by organizing your list based on a section of the grocery store.
And that’s all! Easy peasy!
Healthy meal prep tips
If you tend to be short on time on weeknights, in addition to planning out what’s on the menu each day, there are a few extra steps you can take on a “prep day” to feed yourself healthy meals for the entire week:
Prep salad ingredients
Wash your greens (a salad spinner helps here!) or stock up on pre-washed greens. Chop veggies, make a homemade dressing or two and compile other toppings.
Some ideas for meal-prepping healthy salads:
- Greens: butter lettuce, romaine, spring or baby greens, kale, arugula, spinach, microgreens
- Veggies: Cherry tomatoes, radishes, carrots, peas, broccoli, red onion, roasted sweet potatoes or beets, cucumber, mushrooms, grilled sweet corn, avocado
- Dressings: check out our favorite healthy homemade salad dressings
- Other toppings: cashews/walnuts/almonds/pecans, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, dried cranberries, homemade croutons, hardboiled or medium-boiled egg, grilled fish/steak/chicken, baked tempeh, blue cheese, burrata
Prep macro bowl ingredients
A macro bowl is a great meal prep option that simply includes prepping some protein and veggies and a yummy sauce, and combining together in a bowl. So, you’re getting your protein, carbs and fat in a quick and easy meal throughout the week. You can also meal prep several variations of each of the items below, to mix and match throughout the week for some more variety.
Here’s how to create your own macro bowl:
In addition to being fun salad add-ons, roasted veggies make hearty ingredients for a macro bowl. On your prep day, wash, chop and roast big batches of veggies (with just a little olive or coconut oil, salt, and pepper), and add them to your salads and macro bowls throughout the week.
Try: sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, beets, squash, pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, onions.
Make several portions of grains/beans/animal protein
Depending on your dietary preferences, cook up a few portions of complex carbs and protein—like quinoa, brown or wild rice, beans, lentils, chicken, fish, etc.—to construct macro bowls throughout the week. (Half your bowl should be veggies, so just think of the grains and protein as a supplement, and plan amounts accordingly.)
Store these pre-cooked servings in the fridge to be called upon as needed, and no more waiting 45 minutes each night for your whole grains to cook!
Make a sauce for your macro bowl.
Make a quick sauce to flavor your macro ingredients. For super-simple goodness, just drizzle extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Prep smoothie ingredients
Smoothies are an easy and healthy way to pack an on-the-go breakfast or treat yourself to an afternoon snack loaded with veggies and plant-based protein.
Simply stock up on frozen fruit (or freeze fresh fruit yourself if you’re so inclined), and keep the fridge and pantry stocked with ingredients like washed spinach and kale, hemp seeds, chia seeds, hemp protein powder, coconut milk, almond milk, etc.
Healthy smoothie prep tips
Here are a few additional tips for easy (and healthy!) smoothie prep:
- Add a scoop of collagen peptides to your smoothie for added protein and health benefits.
- This insulated thermos is a leak-proof way to carry your smoothie in your bag (and it keeps it cold!).
- Make blender clean-up a breeze with this fancy trick: Immediately after pouring your smoothie, fill the blender halfway with hot water, a squirt of dish soap, and a dash or two of salt. Blend for 5-10 seconds and rinse!
For more visit: fourwellness.co