It wasn’t until I graduated from college and lived on my own that I realized that I had to take control of my body and what I was eating. In college, I only knew how to boil water and turn on the oven. If I cooked for myself, I made chicken nuggets or pre-packaged ravioli. When I started working out regularly, I realized that I had to start eating more foods that would boost my energy levels and give me the nutrients I needed to perform at an optimal level.
Because I work 5 days a week, 9-5 (give or take a few hours), I started meal prepping and I fell in love with it. I love knowing that if I get off work early, I can come home and relax until I’m hungry. I love knowing even more that if I have a late night, all I have to do is hit “Start” on the microwave and I have a fully cooked meal in 3 minutes. The other two reasons why I meal prep are more pragmatic. I am allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish, so cooking at home eliminates any cross contamination worries. I also eat organic and gmo-free foods as much as I can, and most restaurants (even the ones I love) are still riding the pesticide and herbicide train. All are not aboard.
There are a few tips and tricks that I have learned meal prepping over the past year and a half that have really streamlined the process for me. Overall, it’s crucial to figure out what flavors you like, if you can stand to eat the same thing 4-5 days in a row, and how much time you are willing to dedicate to the cause.
Usually, I block out 2-3 hours on Sundays for meal prep. In this time, I prepare a smoothie for breakfast the following day, 5 lunches and 4 dinners. I eat out on the weekends to take a break from cooking. A girl has to reward herself after a long week! I make 1 large meal for dinner and for my lunches that I bring to work, I make a giant salad and divide it into 5 containers. I enjoy switching things up, so I cook a different dinner recipe each week and use a variety of roasted and raw veggies in my lunch salads. I always stick to 30 minute meals so that I can finish preparing in a timely manner. A sample week is below.
Breakfast: 5 fruit & veggie protein smoothies
Lunch: Arugula salad with white beans, sunflower seeds, cucumber, tomato and roasted zucchini and eggplant
Dinner: Veggie stew with quinoa
Snacks: Hummus & raw veggies, seed butters, air popped popcorn, guacamole & raw veggies, fruits