Meal Planning and Prepping 101
Meal prepping is one of those buzz words right now. Like kale, adaptogens, or super foods. Meal prepping or meal planning does not, I repeat, does NOT have to be a four-hour cooking extravaganza on Sundays. Because that’s just insane! If you precook all your food for the week one day of the week then I’m happy for you but I just don’t think that’s realistic for the rest of us.
Usually on Sunday afternoons or Monday mornings I take a look at my fridge and freezer and assess what I have. I get most of my meat from Ozark Pasture Beef in Fayetteville which delivers high quality, pasture raised, grass fed, and grass finished beef. Even the meat you buy from Whole Foods is oftentimes grass fed but NOT grass finished. They finish it with corn at the end of their lives because it makes the meat taste better to the conventional buyer. However, I do sometimes buy extra meat at Whole Foods or Natural Grocers based on what I need if I don’t have it. I buy my fish from Sizzle Fish and get it shipped to me. They sustainably and responsibly source their fish and they make high quality fish available to everyone, not just the restaurant industry. They also have information about farm raised versus wild caught fish. I continue to buy wild caught but I’m doing more research into farm raised.
So, I start by figuring out what I have. Then, I figure out what I want to make with what I have. For example, last week I thought a bacon spinach salad with shrimp would be good. I also have a ton of beef and originally thought about taco soup but then thought beef and vegetable would be good. I try to figure out a yummy delicious meal that I can fit the most veggies into. We eat roasted or pan seared fish and vegetables at least twice a week because it’s easy and makes my body feel so good. I really feel like fish and veggies is what my body prefers over any other kind of meal.
One of my biggest secrets to meal prepping is buying pre-washed, pre-chopped veggies. I know that seems crazy to some people, but oftentimes if I have to wash and chop my own, I won’t eat or cook them. I have to make it easy. So, for me, it makes sense to spend that extra dollar or two if I know it will help me make healthier choices. I will typically roast a few of these veggies for dinner nightly and save the leftovers for lunches if I have them. I usually choose Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and broccoli and cauliflower. This makes it easy to put something together quickly and easily. Rotisserie chickens are a great resource too! You can use them for just about anything and they are generally cheap.
I usually roast the broccoli and cauliflower together at 400 F for 20 minutes with a very small spray of Fourth and Heart ghee oil, Primal Kitchens high heat avocado oil, or just plain old olive oil. I like the spray options because that keeps you from using too much oil. Then I use David’s Kosher sea salt and fresh black pepper. Sometimes if I’m just doing broccoli I will add garlic and lemon. David’s is my favorite sea salt and it makes such a difference! Sometimes I will also add another spice I have on hand like Primal Palate or Cavender’s (Arkansas made!). Asparagus is about 10-15 minutes on 400 and Brussels sprouts are 20 minutes, then flip, then another 15 or 20 minutes. I like them really crispy! Roasting your veggies gives them the BEST flavor and it’s so easy. Stick them in the oven, and work on something else.
I always make sure I have healthy choices for those “grab-and-go” moments. My favorites for those moments are protein shakes, Perfect Bars, and smoothies. You don’t have to go to a drive through and get something unhealthy that will make you feel terrible. I’ve recently become obsessed with Daily Harvest smoothies and Harvest Bowls. They send you pre-chopped and frozen fruits and veggies and you just add your liquid of choice. I use Malk almond milk because it is free of gums and unnecessary additives. I also use Maple Water in place of coconut water. Coconut water has tons of sugar and carbs!
Meal prepping and meal planning doesn’t have to be hard! Make your list of what you want to cook for the week. Then, use that list to make your grocery list. I know all of this seems totally obvious, but people ask me all the time how I plan my meals for the week. Don’t overcomplicate it!
If you are just starting out and trying to make a switch to a healthier lifestyle, I would recommend writing it all down. Write down what you plan to eat for the week- breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. This helps you stick to it and makes it less overwhelming. When I first got really serious about healthy eating, I did this at the beginning of every week. It helps you stay accountable and really stick to those smart choices. If you are using recipes, keep them pulled up on your phone or print them out. Organize your fridge so it is easy to get to those delicious healthy foods.
I also always keep a few things in my freezer for those days I don’t feel like going to the grocery store or emergency healthy meals. Frozen meat. Frozen cauliflower rice. Lemons. Frozen spinach. Siete Foods tortillas. Cauliflower pizza crust. I always, always have these things. Some really yummy meals have come out of these ingredients!
I am planning a “what I eat in a day” and “what I eat in a week” post which will be more detailed about my food choices. How do you meal prep and meal plan for your family? I would love to hear your tricks!