Since my 25th birthday, I’ve made the conscious decision to care for my body and nurture my mind on a daily basis. I believe that your twenties are the best time to set yourself up for a long and healthy future (some great advice on wellness in your 20’s can be found here). That being said, I try to exercise daily, put on my nightly eye cream, drink three liters of water, minimize sugar intake, apply SPF, and just overall try to stick to a wholesome, local, and organic lifestyle (both what I put on my body and what I consume). One sure thing that keeps me on track to reach my short term and long term lifestyle goals is my weekly meal prep.
Meal prep is a recent addition in my house and it has now become a rule that we reserve Sunday afternoons for food shopping and cooking meals for the week ahead. Having pre-planned and cooked meals play a massive role in a healthy lifestyle change and ultimately saves us time during the week when we’d rather be catching up on Westworld or going to a beloved yoga class. Meal prep can prevent wastefulness and also save you money if you buy in bulk. Freezing pre-cooked meals and food is convenient and easy too.
MEAL PREP STARTERS
- Make a shopping list for the week ahead. Think of the meals you enjoy and write down the exact ingredients you need to purchase.
- Bring your list to the store and try to not purchase any extras or unnecessary sale items. However, we’re all human and give in to those cravings sometimes.
- Reserve a convenient time of the week or weekend to complete your cooking and preparation and get started! If you block time out of your week to consciously set yourself up for a healthy week, then you will easily eliminate the possibility of ordering deliveries, fast food, or sneaking into the candy jar which can set you back in your goals.
- Start small. The first time I meal prepped it took me well over a few hours to get the hang of multitasking and cooking thoughtfully but it gets easier with each week. If this all seems too daunting, then maybe just prep your food for the next night by pre-washing or chopping. Or maybe it’s easier to only start with preparing snacks for the week. Any small step is a step in the right direction.
- If changing your diet and daily habits is your goal, then I would suggest removing all temptation from your home i.e. throw out any processed, packaged, or unhealthy foods currently in your refrigerator or pantry. This includes sugary, carb loaded, and salty foods plus any soda or sugary drinks including fruit juice.
- Buy frozen fruit and vegetables in packets when you can! We usually buy a trio of peas, corn, and carrot mixes that are locally made and frozen. (I try to avoid all products fresh or frozen that come from China.)
- Use vitamins, supplements, and protein powder to help reach your daily targets.
- Drink loads of water especially if you’re working out regularly. I try to stick to the three liters rule or approx twelve glasses of water a day.
- Drinking lemon in warm water to start the day has massive benefits like aiding digestion and helping alkaline the body. You can read more about it here.
- Herbs and spices play a HUGE role in cooking for flavor (they can make plain food taste sensational) and health benefits for the body like increasing your metabolism and curb cravings.
- I recommend purchasing coconut oil, almond milk, organic butter, coconut water, honey, coconut/agave syrup, and Himalayan salt for substitutions in your cooking.
- The microwave is your friend! Zapping food is a well known taboo but I love that it saves time. Recent studies have proven it preserves nutrients and vitamins better than other methods due to it being under heat for a shorter period of time. An example of this would be to cut up two heads of broccoli, place in a bowl and add a bit of water at the bottom (the less water the better). Cover the bowl and microwave for a few minutes until they’re nice and cooked. Then you can use the broccoli as a side to your proteins for lunch or dinner.
- Stock up on tupperware, kitchen scales, and thermometers. Glass storage containers are better than plastic because they are less toxic, preserve food better, and are overall better for the environment. A meat thermometer will save you questioning your culinary skills. Use it to confirm when chicken, steak, or fish is fully cooked and compare temperature to this list here. Kitchen scales are super handy for following recipes and dividing portions.
- Finally, allow yourself a reward for your hard work. Whether that’s a glass of wine, ice cream or a nice restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, a little bit of yang to balance out the yin is healthy and crucial to reach those long term goals.
- Breakfast shake/smoothie (Tip: Freeze ready made smoothie recipes like the below in plastic baggies so they’re ready to add to the blender in the mornings.)
- Recipe: ½ banana, kale, spinach, avo, mint, cucumber, bok choy, and coconut water
- Recipe: kale, pineapple, banana, and coconut milk
- Recipe: Açaí powder, blackberries or raspberries, coconut water, spinach, chia seeds, and ice
- Recipe: rolled oats, blueberries, yogurt, chia seeds, and ice
- Recipe: protein powder, almond milk, banana, almond butter or honey, and ice
- Sprouted wholegrain toast with toppings (Tip: minimal meal prep is involved and can be done in the morning if you have the time.)
- Low carb bread is the best option and I prefer Ezekial or sprouted grain bread.
- Nut butters are a delicious topping such as almond, cashew, or natural peanut butter.
- Other toppings could be feta or holoumi cheese, organic butter, hot sauce/sriracha sauce, pumpkin seeds, boiled egg, tomato or smashed avocado.
- Omelette or any kind of egg variety
- Sauté coconut oil, green onion, half of a red chili, cherry tomatoes, and a few mushrooms for a few minutes. Then add two whisked eggs with a dash of Himalayan salt.
- If you’re one of the few who’s mastered how to poach eggs then that is a great option too!
- Rolled oats
- Microwave steel cut oats in the morning with approx 1/3 cup of almond milk and toppings like desiccated coconut, cinnamon, pure maple syrup, fruit, goji berries, chia seeds or slivered almonds depending on preference.
- Hard boiled egg
- Boil for 8 minutes and immediately place under cold water after
- Yogurt – 0% fat
- Cheddar cheese blocks
- Edamame w/ Himalayan salt
- Veggie sticks and dip
- Carrots/peppers with hummus or yogurt
- Celery and natural peanut butter
- Cucumber and avocado dip
- Apple or kiwi fruit
- Try to limit to one or two pieces of fruit per day if your goal is weight loss because although fruit contains fructose, it is still sugar that can be stored in your body.
- Handful of raw nut mix
- I put 8 raw almonds and 10 raw cashews in a bag for one snack
- Protein balls or cookies
- Various recipes can be found online like this one
- Protein shake
- My go to is one scoop of strawberry or cacao protein powder with 1/2 cup of almond milk. Shake well and enjoy!
- Chicken breast, salmon fillets, turkey burgers, or Asian stir fry with beef
- We bulk bake about six chicken breasts and vary each with rubs, seasoning or bread crumbs
- Veggie roasts are simple and hassle free. Place all desired veggies in a pan and roast until you can easily stick a fork in it. Our go to veggies are sweet potato, potato, peppers, zucchini, onion, or beetroot.
- Stir fry green beans or asparagus with coconut oil, lemon, and pepper.
- Salads (quinoa or spinach) – we all know by now what we can personally tolerate and enjoy.
- Brown rice is a great side portion to a protein
- Stew with chickpeas, kidney beans, and veggies (lentils can also be used)
- Curry and rice. Our go to recipes are a Thai Red Curry with chicken thighs and our favorite is an Indian chicken masala or vindaloo.
The above tips and recipe ideas are a great way to start your introduction to meal preparation. I personally believe that conscious choices, time, and organization will help you reach your goals whatever they may be. So remember to start small, shop with a purpose, and try to eat and drink mindfully. Before you know it, it will get easier. Good luck!