Food prepping is one of the most useful ways that has helped me to stay on track with my clean eating, especially after becoming a new mother. It makes life a whole lot easier during the week when there are loads of laundry to wash, kids to feed and work to be done. It just makes my life so much easier, especially when I am chasing a 9 month old around all day amongst other things!
When trying to eat clean, food prepping is one of my best tips to do so. When your food is ready to go, it’s hard to say no. Hence, why we jump quickly at the thought of fast food – it’s super convenient. However, if you will just set aside one day per week to do this, it will be just as convenient for you! Basically, you pick a meal (or even two!) and cook in large batches to last for the entire week. I will usually freeze half of my meals to keep them fresh towards the end of the week.
These 5 simple tips helped me to get organized when beginning meal prep:
1. Pick a meal prep day. Most people food prep on Sundays. My personal meal prep days are usually Wednesdays because of the extra amount of downtime that I have since my husband is off from work that day.
2. Set aside at least 2 hours or more. The amount of time spent food prepping is ultimately up to you. I typically spend about 3 hours prepping my meals, but I know some others who spend less or even more with their meal preps. It all depends on what you are making.
3. Make a healthy grocery shopping list. This can be time consuming because this is the planning part of your meal prep. I like to jot down ideas on a piece of paper throughout the week or look on Pinterest for some ideas of what to make if I am craving something other than the usual chicken-broccoli-brown rice meal. Make sure you plan enough to last you the week and don’t forget snacks! Also, do not forget your list!
4. Go grocery shopping! Once you have your list made, you can then proceed to the store to get your goods! Sometimes, what I purchase depends on what is on sale or in season so I can save a buck or two. Usually, I am out within an hour with everything that I need.
5. Prep & cook. Once home, you can begin right away! Boil the rice, wash & chop the produce, cook the chicken, etc.-whatever you have to do. Then set aside and arrange your meals in the container of your choice and stash them in the refrigerator or freezer for the week. Oh, and don’t forget to date them!
Now that we have the meal prepping plan down, you might wonder what food is good to prep with. The best prepped meal, to me, has always been the “ever-so-boring” chicken breasts, broccoli, and brown rice. Why? It is simple, yet effective and it just works. However, thanks to some fancy seasonings out there, I am not so bored with my meals anymore.
Here are 5 of my favorite foods to meal prep for the week:
1. Chicken Breast: Sure, chicken breast may sound lame and cliché, but there’s a very good reason why it is rated as one of the best foods to prep for the week: it is lean! A four ounce piece of skinless, boneless chicken breast is right at about 200 calories and about 35 grams of protein or more. The only problem – it can get rather boring. You can spice your chicken up in different ways by playing around and experimenting with different herbs, marinades, and seasonings. My favorite seasoning for my chicken breasts is McCormick’s Grillmates Fiery 5 Pepper seasoning! It never gets old. Like, ever. Besides being lean, chicken usually lasts up to 3-4 days if stored properly at the right temp in your fridge. For those who aren’t down with storing chicken that long, try freezing each breast separately, wrapped tightly in Saran wrap or a freezable container, and take it out when you are ready to pack your meal. Easy peasy.
2. Quinoa: There’s no secret why most people are starting to favor quinoa over plain ole brown rice. It is packed with fiber, phosphorus, and magnesium, not to mention countless inflammatory phytonutrients-and can be stored up to four days inside your fridge in an air tight container. It is easy to freeze and thaw if needed. I also love the texture of it!
3. Broccoli: I know what you are thinking, “Another boring side to prep.” Not exactly. Broccoli is super high in Vitamin K and Vitamin C and contains anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting properties. However, depending on how you prep it, you may lose all of the key nutrients! Do not steam or boil your broccoli for more than 3-5 minutes tops. Overcooking any veggies drastically reduces their nutritional value. I love my broccoli steamed with a little sesame oil, sesame seeds, and a dash of soy sauce. Typically, broccoli will last in the fridge for 3 days. You may freeze it if you need.
4. Sweet Potatoes: High in beta carotene, several recent studies have shown the superior ability of sweet potatoes to raise our blood levels of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes have also been known to regulate your blood sugar, thus, lowering your risks for later developing Type 2 Diabetes. You may steam, boil, or bake your sweet potatoes and they last up to four days in the fridge. I personally love to mash mine with a little Stevia or raw honey and some cinnamon as a “dessert.”
5. Black Beans: Packed with fiber, black beans are also known for being high in molybdenum, a mineral your body requires to trigger the function of enzymes essential for the synthesis of amino acids and the metabolism of certain compounds. These beans are also filled with countless flavonoids and antioxidants while keeping you feeling full for longer periods of time. You can store beans for up to four days inside your fridge.
The way in which you choose to food prep is ultimately up to you. Find a plan that works best for you and your goals and keep up the good fight!
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.