MEAL PREP BASICS

Who wants to talk about meal prepping? The words can conjure many things, from endless stacks of Tupperware, to the ultimate Sunday scaries, to one of the trendiest fads on Pinterest. But all that aside, we all know that meal prepping is a great way to eat healthy, shop smart and save money… and who can’t benefit from that?

I got into the habit shortly out of college, mostly because my schedule started to necessitate it. I was working overnights in the newsroom, and obviously couldn’t pop out anywhere at lunchtime (which was 4am) to get a salad. So I really had no choice but to prep at least two of my meals per day at home ahead of time. And rather than have to think about and do that every day… it made sense to get it all done on Sunday so I’d be good to go for the week. It also forced me to keep an organized grocery list, and I naturally started to plan my dinners more carefully as well. Laying it all out by the week also helped me notice patterns in my diet, and ensure that I was distributing good foods and essential nutrients throughout my meals each day, something that proved to be very beneficial during my period of health issues. And of course all of that combined meant that Trader Joe’s was less of a beating… on my time and my wallet. It usually takes less than an hour or two to prep what I need each week. I can tell you I’ve never once regretted it.

My day always starts with my morning drink, and then a big pot of coffee after working out. From there, I try to fill each meal with some kind of protein and a complex carb… and I’m trying to find ways to incorporate as many veggies as possible too. And because I’m a nibbler by nature, it’s important for me to keep snacks on hand.

Here’s a snapshot of what my weekly meal plan might look like (and has in recent weeks).

MONDAY:

TUESDAY:

  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt with honey, granola and mixed berries
  • Lunch: black bean taco bowl
  • Snack choices: banana or apple, boiled eggs, almonds or low-fat cheese stick
  • Dinner: leftovers!

WEDNESDAY:

  • Breakfast: Almond butter, Greek yogurt and oatmeal breakfast muffins
  • Lunch: black bean taco bowl
  • Snack choices: banana or apple, boiled eggs, almonds or low-fat cheese stick
  • Dinner: Shrimp, potato and corn chowder with a side salad

THURSDAY:

  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt with honey, granola and mixed berries
  • Lunch: black bean taco bowl
  • Snack choices: banana or apple, boiled eggs, almonds or low-fat cheese stick
  • Dinner: you guessed it…leftovers!

FRIDAY:

  • Breakfast: Almond butter, Greek yogurt and oatmeal breakfast muffins
  • Lunch: black bean taco bowl
  • Snack choices: banana or apple, boiled eggs, almonds or low-fat cheese stick
  • Dinner: Going out somewhere in the neighborhood, bring on the weekend!

PREP: The links to the recipes can be found above. I prep the muffins and the taco bowls on Sunday and put them in baggies and containers for the week. Then I boil 5 eggs and leave them in a bowl in the fridge for an easy grab-and-go alongside my fruit, cheese sticks and almonds (which are always in a bag in the fridge for quick reach).

SATURDAY/SUNDAY:

I don’t have kids at this point in my life, so the weekends are a little more free and open for me. I don’t like to meal prep too much for them, because I know I’m likely making plans with friends or going out on some adventure (sometimes involving errands) with Avu.

The weekends are for relaxing and indulging a little if you ask me, and that starts right at breakfast. At least one weekend morning, I like to make a big yummy breakfast at home – something like waffles covered in toppings, big breakfast tacos, or some kind of hash, so I make sure to keep baking staples and things like eggs, cheese, milk (and bacon) on hand.

Friday and Saturdays are usually the nights we eat out during the week, if at all. On the other hand, if I know I’m having a night in, either binge-watching Netflix or just playing with the dogs, that’s when I like to dive in to a cook book. I’ll shop specifically for that if I need to. Avu and I enjoy do that together, and we stop to pick up a bottle of wine on the way home from the market store, creating a little mini-date night out of it.

Whatever your week looks like, there are ways you can plan ahead and make sure you’re eating mindfully and living presently every day. What would your ideal weekly menu look like?

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