By Molly Heltne, RD, CD
It seems that we are always on the go. Sometimes it is hard to take time to make a meal between meetings, sports practices, and appointments. With meal planning you will be less stressed throughout the week, and less likely to eat an unhealthy meal on the go, knowing you have a home cooked meal ready! Check out the tips below to get started!
- Plan. Meal prepping will take some time each week, so be sure to pencil in a day and time that best works for you into your schedule. Do a little research on what kind of recipes would best suit with what ingredients you already have in stock, so you can save time and money at the grocery store. There are also some great foods to have on hand such as frozen fruits & vegetables, rice, frozen meats, oatmeal, beans, and salsa, for example. These ingredients can be mixed and matched in a variety of recipes. The beans, meat, rice, salsa, and vegetables can be used in tacos and chili! The oatmeal and fruit can be used in overnight oats and energy bites.
- Think Nutrition. When planning a meal, it is important to also think about the nutritional value. Find some easy, healthy meals to try! When thinking of building a meal, be sure that it has protein, a grain or starch, and something fresh. For example, and excellent lunch meal would be chicken, quinoa, and sugar snap peas. Add a low fat string cheese, and a small apple to incorporate all food groups. This meal is full of nutrition that will help you feel full and energize throughout the day. Using the USDA MyPlate is a great tool to visualize what your plate should look like for lunch and dinner meals!
- Start Simple. Trying to meal plan for every meal of the week can be very overwhelming. Instead of trying to make all of your meals ahead of time, try making just one meal. For example, meal prep just your dinner meals for the week. Once you are comfortable with that, continue to add breakfast, lunch, and snacks into your meal prepping routine. Even starting by chopping up your fruits and vegetables for the week as snacks can be great for grab and go throughout the week. It does not have to be whole meals you are cooking either! Having your meat, grain, and vegetables cooked can help with cooking time later in the week.
- Multitask. There are some great ways to multitask to get more done in less time. For example, you could make a chili in the crockpot, and, while that is cooking, you can roast chicken and vegetables in the oven and chop up fruit for the week. Another great idea is to double or triple a recipe. That way you can have leftovers for lunches, or freezer meals that are great to grab in a pinch!
- Portion. Pre-portioning out meals while meal prepping can help save time later in the week. Pick up some containers that easily allow for this, so you can grab and go. Try making meals such as casseroles, meatloaf, or egg bakes in muffin tins. Try freezing soups and stews in ice trays and portioning out into freezer bags for storage. When ready to eat, it will take it less time to thaw and re-heat!
We hope you’ll find these tips helpful as you try your hand at meal prepping! For more information about Livea Weight Control Centers and our program, visit www.livea.com or call 1-855-GoLivea to set up a complimentary consultation!