Trying to keep up with the hustle and bustle of everyday life can be exhausting. Then going home and trying to decide what to eat only to realize you need to go grocery shopping just adds more stress. That’s why I like to meal plan and prep before my busy week starts! I often hear, as a registered dietitian working with eating disorder clients, that clients get off track with their meal plan because they simply were not prepared. I find that meal prepping for the week can help alleviate that stress of “what am I going to eat”, as it is already there, and can be so cost friendly! Here are some tricks of the trade to keep your body nourished, satisfied, and on track!
- Plan Ahead: This is the most important step when meal prepping for the week. First, look at what you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. You can incorporate foods you already have into your meal plan for the next week! Make a list of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks you would like for the week. Now, figure out what you have and what you need to buy. I find it most helpful, less overwhelming, and budget-friendly when I buy food that I can use for multiple meals.
- Tip: Buy chicken breast and incorporate it into many meals! Grilled chicken breast, veggies, and sweet potatoes for dinner and a chicken panini for lunch!
- Tip: A serving size of protein is about the size of your palm. So when you buy a package of 2-3 chicken breasts you can cook all of them and spread it out into different meals, or freeze one for the next week!
- Cook more than one item at once! This will save you loads of time when meal prepping. I typically meal prep on Sundays, and I carve out 2-3 hours minimum to prepare all of my meals for the following week.
- Buy reusable containers to pre-portion your meals for the week! I personally like clear storage containers so I can see what I have prepared for each day.
- Here is a step-by-step guide to start meal prepping at home:
- First, make a list of all of the ingredients you need to purchase for your recipes for the week.
- Next, go grocery shopping and purchase each item needed.
- Organize all of the ingredients in separate groups according to each recipe.
- Pick out like ingredients that either take similar times/methods of cooking and start preparing like items together. This saves me a TON of time each week! Ex: I know my veggies and meat can cook at the same temperature but different times so you can prepare and cook them together!
- After each item is cooked properly, portion into containers, label them for each day of the week and there you have it! Meals for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner for the entire week!
I would like to make a side note that just because your meal prepped a certain dinner or lunch does not mean you cannot enjoy going out to dinner with friends or family. If you know ahead of time, you don’t have to make a meal! Or if you don’t know in advance, save the meal for a later time and enjoy the company of having meals with others! At Eating Disorder Solutions, this is something I practice with my clients each week, especially before discharge to set you up for success and continued recovery!
Authored by Emily Baum, M.S., RDN, LD