Why meal prep is so much more than a good instagram post...

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We have all seen the pictures. We have all heard the preaching. We all want to hire someone to do it for us. But, what we all don't realize is, it is really so much easier than you think! And yes, I am talking about meal prepping.

So what is the reason that this term has recently become such a house hold phrase? I really don't know the answer, but I have a few guesses. Eating lunch out can be expensive, waking up in the morning and trying to pack lunch when nothing is ready to go is stressful, and trying to string a meal together after a long day of work is nearly impossible. Not to mention the Sunday Scaries, are bad enough without having to do extra thinking about Monday morning.

BUT - despite how it got here, or how you may perceive it, meal prep is literally the best idea to hit the internet. It is life changing. It works. It promotes happiness. (health and slimmer waistlines aka it is #happyslimhealthy)  It takes as little time as you want it to and it can change the entire outcome of your week.

So why do it?

That's simple, to avoid the added stress on Sunday night and Monday morning, to save money from buying lunch out everyday, and to have a plan to avoid the fear of the unknown post-work dinner!

So here I am going to tell you all you have to do to make this a reality in your home:

1.) Write out your week. Start by looking at your calendar and seeing what nights you will be home for dinner. And what days you have the option (should be all but for some maybe not) to bring lunch with you.

2.) Start searching Pinterest or your favorite site (aka www.happyslimhealthy.com) for meal ideas specific for dinner time! What works the best for me is finding recipes I want to make, printing them out and then stapling them to a grid I create that has my week of meals and workouts planned out!

3.) Write out what you plan to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks! (see below for lunch inspiration)

4.) Make a list and hit the grocery store!

5.) PREP!

(To make it clear, for dinners, finding the recipe and planning what night to make it (plus getting the ingredients) is prep enough! These tips below focus on what I prep for lunches and breakfasts.)

Here is what I try and meal prep each Sunday:

1.) I hard boil about 10-12 eggs. My husband takes them for breakfast and I like to have them as back up snacks or sometimes I use the hard boiled whites as my protein on my salad! It takes very little effort and gives you lots of options! (think snack, protein for breakfast or lunch!)

2.) Some sort of good carb. Carbs are important. If you don't know by now, there is not a food group I don't love, and when you learn to balance your food groups, you really can have it all. BUT that being said, it is important to know what belongs in each food group, and how much of it to consume - we will save that for another post.

In the mean time - for meal prep purposes, I make one of the following each week:

  • 1 box of Banza pasta (follow my instagram for all the many amazing things you can create with this amazingly perfect food)
  • ~2 cups of either quinoa, farro, wheat berries or brown rice
  • 2 baked sweet potatoes (cut in quarters and bake, then stick in the fridge)

Each day for lunch I take one serving from my prepped item and add it to my salad! I cannot afford a mid day hangry crash - can you?!

3.) Protein. I have a few go-tos, and sometimes I get creative. But this is the most important step in your meal prep. Protein can take the longest time to cook, and if you are not prepared, this is the item you really scramble for in the morning.

So here are some options to get you started:

  • Hard-boiled eggs as discussed above
  • Home-made tuna salad - Mix one can of tuna with a half an avocado, salt, pepper, diced celery and 2 tbsp of plain Greek yogurt.
  • Home-made chicken salad - Start with baked shredded chicken, or for ease - a rotisserie chicken from the store! - If you use the rotisserie, take off all the skin and pull the white meat from the bone. Place in your container and shred. Add in 1 6 oz. plain Greek or Icelandic (Siggis) yogurt + 1 tbsp dijon mustard and optional 1 tbsp siracha mayo (suggest: Just Mayo brand). Mix together and then add in diced veggies - I typically use some shredded bagged broccoli cole slaw, or shredded carrots and celery diced, but truthfully as long as you add a veggie into it I don't mind what it is.
  • Grilled chicken - buy a pack of tenderloins and grill them on your george foreman or real grill if you are that lucky. Or bake it.
  • Same goes with some fish! You can pre grill about 2 days worth of white fish and have that ready to go in your fridge as well.
  • If you are a vegetarian - rinse and drain a can of beans, sounds easy, but saves time and effort in the morning! (You can also pre-bake some tofu and have that in the fridge ready to go!)

4.) On a good Sunday I will also make some sort of snack - sometimes a trail mix, sometimes energy bites (recipe coming in blog soon), sometimes I simply just prep baby carrots and sugar snap peas in little baggies or a tupperware so I can grab and go in the morning. Every little bit helps!

And that's it! You can do most of this all at the same time. All in - today my prep took me 45 minutes. Everyone has 45 minutes they can spend setting themselves up for success. I challenge you to try this. And for the record, it doesn't have to be on Sunday! There is no bad day to plan ahead!

I cannot end this post without saying it..."a failure to plan, is a plan to fail." Sorry, had to, just because it's true.

Try this out, do what you can, you won't regret it!