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When you discover the whole world of meal planning and meal prep so you can healthy recipes pre preped each week allowing you to get on with living it’s like the discovery of the light bulb, illuminating and profound.
I get it.
You want to eat healthily, family friendly meals but you have super busy weeknights and just can’t find the time to research recipes, go to the shops then cook every darn night when your tired.
Perhaps you resort to eating out or takeaways because, well, it’s just easier.
Quick and convenient is higher on the importance scale for you so healthy cooking gets bumped down the list more than you care to admit.
And because of that ability to achieve optimal health is far more difficult. You are dealing with weight gain and you’ve noticed inflammation causing poor joint health and skin condition.
It bothers you that you can’t get into an easy rhythm when it comes to your health and fitness goals.
You want to improve your diet and health and you know you don’t need the extra calories in fast and convenient food anymore.
AND, you DO want to save time and money.
Not to worry, this health coach has got your back.
An easy strategy that will help you meal plan and prep go to meals that are healthy
You don’t even need to completely abandon your regular meals out. You can use my strategy to help you eat out just one or two fewer times per week. It’s up to you.
As with any lifestyle change, start gradually and build consistency. The key here is to make it easy, doable and rewarding enough to do again and again. If you slip up and order out from time to time, go easy on yourself. Give yourself the chance to do it right the rest of the time.
Let me walk you through my simple system for meal planning and healthy meal prep and how this can work for you.
My Top Healthy Food Swaps
Keep your waistline and your family happy with these hacks
Add one of these food swaps into your life each week to see and feel the positive difference in your health
Step1. Meal planning for the week
I prefer to do this on the weekend.
Generally, I have a very small selection of things I make for midweek that I go back to time and again with just slight variations just to keep it a little interesting. These are family friendly meals that we all love.
Maybe I will change the meat used or the vegetables I put with it depending on what is in season and is cheap.
Draw up your meal plan and put it on the fridge so you and everyone else in the family can refer to it.
I like to have at least one slow cooker meal each week because they’re so easy, and dinner is ready and waiting when you get home.
Then I create my grocery list. I take a quick look in my fridge, freezer and pantry, and list the recipe ingredients that I need to buy.
Step 2. Double up for more convenience
Consider buying a “backup” of things you use most often so that you don’t run out. I’ve had times where the tomato sauce I planned to use was nearly empty. Having to run out in the middle of meal prep can be very frustrating and defeats the game plan of making this quick and convenient.
Another thing to consider is doubling the recipe(s), so you can prep and cook once, but have twice the meal at the end. The extras can be taken for lunch, or frozen to pull out the night before a busy day, so you just need to heat and eat.
We have a saying in our house when the girls ask what is for dinner the answer at this time of year is often “freezer surprise”.
If you’re doubling a recipe, don’t forget to double what you buy from the grocery store.
Once you have your grocery list ready, you can head to the supermarket and pick up your essentials. If you don’t have enough food storage containers for your meals, now’s the time to pick up some of those too. I find they are cheaper if you get them in those cheap variety stores. Just make sure they are food-safe. I’m slowly replacing our plasitc takeaway containers for glass with a plastic lid.
If you’re not a fan of washing and chopping produce, then consider buying them already pre-washed and pre-chopped, or even frozen. You can make your meal prep even easier if you don’t mind spending a couple of extra dollars.
Step 3. Prep Meals For The Week
Now it’s time to prep.
Get your recipes ready, clear off your counter, and play some music. I like to catch up on podcasts or have something on the T.V. playing through my headphones.
At this point, depending on time, I’ll either prep the ingredients, or pre-cook the entire recipe. Sometimes just washing and chopping produce and putting it in containers is a huge time-saver for weeknights. Or, you can go through and make a whole meal, and divide it up into portions and refrigerate or freeze.
It’s really up to you. The more you do now, the less you’ll have to do when you’re hungry.
When I am doing anything on the weekend that includes vegetables I always do extra. The extra can go into an egg bake, or get added to cauliflower rice to have with fish or chicken.
The same goes for if I make coleslaw at any time I make twice as much as I need and the rest is used for lunches. Of course, don’t put dressing on it until you need it as it will go watery.
Breakfast, the easiest meal prep to do.
There is one meal that is the easiest to plan and prepare in advance. It’s one that’s also often the most difficult to eat at home if you’re busy.
Planning some overnight oatmeal is a great start to any day.
Place ½ cup rolled oats, ½ cup your choice of milk, 1 tbsp chia or flax seeds into a container (or make 5 for the whole week). Put the lid on, shake and put them in your fridge. Throw some frozen berries on top. In the morning you can quickly heat them up or even eat them cold (the oats and chia sees will have absorbed the milk).
If you can’t eat oats just you can just make a chia pudding and do exactly the same. Top with berries, chopped fruit, nuts or seeds and enjoy.
With a little planning, you’ll be able to eat healthier while you save money and calories.
For these you can use bento boxes so everything is together. Some ideas for things to put in them:
- Nuts and seeds
- Chopped up veggies and hummus
- Zucchini noodles with simple pesto and baked chicken breast. This chicken takes 10-12 minutes to bake drizzled with olive oil and some salt and pepper. Chop it up and add it to zucchini noodles stirred through with pesto.
- melon salad
- Greek salad
- Jar salads – you’ll find heaps of ideas for these around the internet
- Bliss balls
Stick with the healthy recipes you know. If you’re stuck for ideas then here are some to think about:
- Sheet pan veggies and chicken or steak
- Meatballs and cauliflower rice
- Chickpea curry and cauliflower rice
- Veggie fritters and salad
- One pan sausage and vegetable stew with rice
- Vegetable stew with rice
If you’re forever busy and dispair that you’ll ever feel healthy with the current state of your meals then try meal planning with healthy recipe. Imagine being able to arrive home and put a meal in to reheat. How much extra time will you have?