Do you want to know the secret to living a truly healthy lifestyle? It might not be much of a secret anymore, because EVERY single healthy and fit person that I know does it.
Yep, it’s food prep.
Do not be intimidated… you can start out small and eventually it will become part of your routine. In this post, I’m giving you 3 principles that will make your food prep easier and more effective.
The only way you can have healthy food available in your busy life is to make it in advance. You probably don’t have the time to cook yourself 3 home made meals every day in addition to go to work, exercise, run errands, take care of the pets, the kids, the bills, the dishes, and yourself! When you are hungry, tired, and in a hurry, you don’t have to give in to temptation and resort to unhealthy food… you just have to food prep.
Set a few hours aside EVERY week to cook things in bulk. This time is non-negotiable, just like your workout. The first time you food prep, start with one simple recipe and the next time prep a little more. It is important that you don’t overwhelm yourself with too much at first.
I prefer to do my food prep over the course of the weekend. I’ll prep a little Saturday afternoon, and again on Sunday afternoon. Food prep can happen any day of the week though, as long as you can stay consistent.
Here are my top three tips to make your food prep even easier!
- Cook and Chop in Bulk
The key to efficiency is to prep in bulk. The downside to this is that you tend to eat the same recipes all week long. Make sure you mix up your recipes every weekend to keep things interesting!
When you cook dinner, always plan for leftovers. Just double your recipe and when you need lunch for the next day, grab a container from the fridge! When you chop veggies, don’t just chop what you need today. Chop everything you have, so that you only have to clean up the knives and cutting boards once. When you have everything chopped in advance, making dinner midweek is much faster!
Wash and chop lettuce and put it into containers for salad. Chop all of your favorite toppings (sweet pepper, red onion, cucumber, tomato, carrots, etc.) and leave them in their own container until you are ready to assemble your salad. Its important to keep everything separate until the night before or right before you eat. No one likes a soggy salad!
- Start with a List
Food prepping can be a disaster if you aren’t prepared. Take out the anxiety and guess work by starting with a list. This way, you will move more quickly from one task to another. You can also plan to prep in an order that makes the most sense.
Before you do anything, sit down with a piece of paper and a pen, and start thinking. What recipes do you need for this week? What do you plan to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner? What extras do you need to chop in advance to make weeknight dinners a breeze?
I’ll give you an example of what your list might look like.
Frittatas (for breakfast all week)
Roasted sweet potatoes (a great addition to any meal)
Chicken for salads
Thai meatballs (quick and easy to reheat with some frozen green beans.)
Things to chop:
Cucumber (slices for snacking and diced for salads)
Sweet Peppers (sticks for snacking and diced for salads)
Strawberries or Melon
Now you have a plan. Simply throw some chicken breasts in a crockpot with some stock, and in a few hours, you will have tender chicken for salads that pulls apart and melts in your mouth. Once you get your frittatas and potatoes in the oven, you can chop the veggies while they cook.
As you do your prep or chop various things on this list, scratch them off and move on to the next thing. It is such a great feeling to watch the list get shorter and knowing that you are going to have a fridge full of food and nothing to worry about this week!
As you finish things up and get them out of the oven, you can get a bulk recipe together for dinner. Thai meatballs make a great meal with some brown rice and frozen green beans, just make sure you make lots of leftovers for the week.
- Enjoy Yourself
If you can’t have a good attitude about prepping, you just won’t continue to do it. I used to torture myself with the drudgery of food prep. I’d say things like “Ugh… I really don’t want to spend my day in the kitchen and on my feet. This sucks.” And guess what? It did suck!
When you first begin, it feels like a lot of work… making new recipes and figuring out how to move in your kitchen gracefully takes a while. It can be frustrating. But try not to look at it as a chore. This is a lifestyle. A pretty darn good one too. After some practice, you get more comfortable and efficient in the kitchen, but (and a big but here…) doing the same thing week after week can become monotonous.
I have some tips for you to break the monotony, and enjoy yourself while you prep.
- Put a TV in your kitchen and watch your favorite shows while you cook.
- Listen to great music and dance around. (This is my favorite… and a way to get in your exercise too!)
- Get your kids involved with simple tasks and use it as a learning experience for them!
- Listen to an audio book or podcast.
- Have your significant other help you and consider it quality time!
I’m interested if you have any tips to break the monotony of food prep as well!
Remember that just like creating a routine with exercise, food prep is going to take some time to get used to. It will feel like a lot of work at first… but don’t let that get you down. Persevere through the initial stages of building your healthy lifestyle. The reward for your consistency can’t be measured.
Through this process, you will simplify your life and reduce stress. You will save money from buying your lunch and dinner. Your energy levels will skyrocket when you eat nutritious home cooked meals. Weight loss will require less effort. You will be a positive influence on your family. The ways in which food prep can improve your life are numerous.
Find out for yourself, and share your experience with me!