When you’re ready for a meal, there’s a lot of “other stuff” in the way – like hunger, temptation, and being tired, which leads you to eat fast and unhealthy.
If you set up your week before you’re in the moment, it doesn’t matter if you’re tired or hungry – you will still make a good decision because the easiest option is already prepared and ready.
Meal planning can sound like it takes a lot of time and maintenance. Some meal planning strategies have so many steps that you could spend hours just planning your meal planning! And most likely, you’ll just never do it.
Here’s an easy 3-step guide to meal planning that you’ll actually be able to do!
1. Make two sides during the weekend
Make easy sides like bean, lentil, healthy carb or vegetable dishes. They can be refrigerated for most of the week. You can pull them out every evening for dinner and pack for lunch the next day.
Choosing sides with flavors and spices (does not have to be spicy) will make you want to eat it. Spices and flavors really work themselves into the dish more over time, so they taste even better each day! A spice blend that works for almost anything is 1 teaspoon each of cumin, turmeric, sea salt and black pepper.
I share a recipe below for an easy side that is quick to make and you can easily take on the go below, my “No-Cook 3-bean Salad.”
2. Store food in glass containers
Glass helps food keep its freshness for longer (I tested this myself) and they’re safer for your food. Each side can be stored for at least 4 days in a glass container.
Buy different sizes to store at home and take to work. You can also buy plastic containers to transport to work because they’re lighter. However, plastic containers do not keep food as long and are not safe for longer-term storage due to the material of the plastic. It’s better to use plastic just to take to work and discard after a few uses.
Here are my favorite glass containers: Kinetic Go Green Glasslock Series (I have the 64, 37 and 17 oz. sizes for my family of four).
3. During the week make an easy protein
Preferably use white meat or eggs, such as grilled chicken, fish, or an omelet. You can also have a whey protein shake or tofu, which are both great sources of vegetarian protein.
Pair this protein with the sides you already prepared, and it will be delicious and easy! Make extra so you can take it to work the next day. To further save time during the week, you could also marinate and/or prepare your protein portion on the weekends.
Imagine if you came home from work to Cumin Coriander Fish and No-Cook 3- Bean Salad already prepared! How much easier would it be for you to lose weight or just eat better? Do you see how you would be setting yourself up for more energy + weight-loss?
Your mouth will be watering at lunch time and you won’t even be tempted to go get a sloppy burrito from that taco truck around the corner.
If there’s one thing you can do to get the most bang to buck ratio – it’s to think ahead for the week. Check out my easy side dish below which you can make ahead of time – it’s packed with protein, healthy carbs and it’s super fast to make! Plus, it’s easy to transport to work and when you’re on the go.
No-Cook 3-Bean Salad
Prep Time 15 Minutes
Makes 4 – 6 Servings
- 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed
- 1 can kidney beans, rinsed
- 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed
- 1 whole tomato, coarsely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- ½ red onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder (optional, only if you prefer heat)
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper, or to taste
- In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients except spinach and dressing ingredients.
- Add dressing ingredients to a separate small bowl and whisk together.
- Pour over beans and mix. Add baby spinach and enjoy!
Check out my website for my free “Weight-loss Recipes Handbook for Ambitious Women” which includes the Cumin Coriander Fish recipe that goes so well with this 3-Bean Salad!