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APPETIZERS AND SIDES
A female empowering non-diet dietitian supporting women who want to create a healthier relationship with food.
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One of the most common barriers to eating healthy is not having enough time. In today’s society, everyone has a busy schedule with work, home life and extra curriculars and it can be hard to fit in anything else. Meal prepping is one of those things that can make your life infinitely easier with just a little bit of planning. If meal prepping doesn’t sound feasible for your lifestyle, you can start small. Try cutting up raw celery and carrots to keep on hand in the fridge or when making your dinner, double the batch to have leftovers. Give it a go for one week, evaluate how it went and then see if it’s doable for another week.
Follow this step-by-step process to get you on track with your healthy eating goals and habits. A little bit of work for a huge payoff; sounds good to me!
Avoid the stress and dread of the daily 4pm “what’s for dinner?” text by coming up with a Master List of Meals. On your computer or a piece of paper, brainstorm some of your favourite meals that you have made in the past or would like to make in the future. For example, grilled chicken with rice and broccoli, homemade pizzas, shrimp stir fry, lentil bolognese. Add these to the list that will act as a home base for choosing recipes from. To get inspiration you can scroll through Pinterest or pick up a cook book that’s been on your shelf, untouched for a couple of years. I recommend coming up with 10-20 meals (or more if you’re feeling ambitious!).
Although the quote “Fail to plan and plan to fail” sounds a little harsh, it’s true. Without putting your intentions down on paper and into action, they will only ever be that- an intention. So now is your time to actually schedule in the time to spend on making healthier choices. First, decide what meals from your Master List will be had on each day. Remember: you don’t need to have a new meal for every day of the week. Cooking or baking in batches and using the leftovers for the next day or two is one of the best ways to efficiently conquer the week. Next, find the day of the week that you have the most time to spare for meal prepping. For most, this is Sunday afternoon/night, but this may not be the case for you. Whatever day you can spare a couple of hours is the best one for you! Document this information in your calendar and your stress levels will start to drop knowing there is action in place.
You are already going to the grocery store for your regular bananas and milk run, so why not pick up a few extra ingredients while you’re there? When you know what meals you are planning on making for the upcoming days, you can determine a grocery list of the foods that you don’t already have in your kitchen. Another step complete!
Time to put the plan into action! What components of your weekly meals can you prep ahead of time?
-Can you chop up a variety of fresh vegetables to keep in the fridge for quick snack choices?
-What about making a big pot of rice, quinoa or pasta that is easy to heat up in smaller portions? (Pro tip: if you are making a big batch of pasta, drizzle it with olive oil after it has cooked so that the noodles don’t stick together).
-Pre-packaging snack bags of nuts, trail mix, vegetables and dip, fruit and nut butter, homemade muffins or lentil cookies will ensure that you are never left too long without food (being “hangry” is a real thing).
-If you’re feeling ambitious or know that the week ahead is sure to leave you pressed for time, you can cook your protein or main meal in advance and store it in the fridge to be heated up when the time comes.
Figuring out what tactic works for you is part of the process. Some prefer to make all of their meals for the week on a Sunday night while others have more time to cook and eat their meals fresh the day of. Whatever you find can fit into your lifestyle the easiest is the one you should stick with. It does come with a little hard work and effort, but the benefits of eating healthy will pay off in more ways than you can imagine. Happy prepping!
Bachelor in Applied Sciences, Professional Masters Diploma in Dietetics, Diploma in Sports Nutrition from the International Olympic Committee
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Food for a happy and healthy life