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How to Plan and Prep Food for Healthy Meals All Week

How to Plan and Prep Food for Healthy Meals All Week

Meal prep is something that many people are interested in these days to help them live a healthier lifestyle with more ease and organization. This can help you face temptations to reach for junk food or hit the fast food drive-thru more easily, especially when hunger strikes and you find yourself unprepared without a proper meal or snack.

However, we all know meal prep isn’t the easiest thing to start if you’ve never tried it, and unless you have some knowledge about how to do it easily and without spending hours in the kitchen, it can seem incredibly overwhelming.

So, check out these tips and recipes for how to plan and prep food for healthy meals all week. You’ll not only have less stress around making your meals, but you’ll also feel great physically and mentally knowing you’re supporting your body with high-quality foods you prepared at home.

5 Tips to Plan and Prep Food for Healthy Meals All Week:

1. Make a list of what your goals are.

    Before you decide your meal plan, it’s important to consider what your goals are with your meal prep, or in other words, why you’re actually doing it. Are you trying to lose weight, eat cleaner, make meals simpler, save time in the kitchen, or all of the above? Evaluating your goals with your meal prep will help keep you from deterring from these goals when you go to select meals.

    This step is incredibly useful. Often, someone who is interested in eating healthier and simpler might not keep this in mind when they go to select recipes to make or go shopping for their foods. So, write down your main goals for your meal prep, and always keep these in the forefront of your mind during the meal prep process.

    2. Select recipes that will help you complete your goals.

      Next, it’s time to come up with some recipes to make for your meal prep. I suggest going to Pinterest, your favorite blogs, or even utilizing food brand websites that you love (and that align with your goals) to find recipes. Create a Pinterest board that’s just for meal prep recipes. You can even make it a secret board if you don’t want anyone to see it. When it comes to making your meals, remember that simple recipes with a short ingredient list are usually better than long recipes with odd ingredients.

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      Popular meal prep ideas include a simple protein with veggies and a healthy source of carbohydrates with low to moderate servings of fat and usually no sugar or refined ingredients. If health isn’t a goal for you and you’re just interested in quick and easy meals, your options will definitely expand a bit for meal prep possibilities. Whatever the case, keep your goals in mind when you select recipes for meal prep and keep them all together in one place.

      3. Create a schedule. 

        Now it’s time to take those recipes and put them into a schedule for your meals during the week. Make a calendar for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. It’s usually easier if you rotate between the same meals during the week, or just keep the baseline of each meal the same.

        For instance, maybe every morning for breakfast you’ll choose between a green protein smoothie, or you’ll have some high protein overnight oats with fruit. Or, maybe you’ll prep a large batch of porridge to keep on hand all week long and just reheat it to serve with your favorite fruits and protein sources. Whatever the case, gather some ideas in mind and make the overall meal prep goal to be simple, effective, and useful.

        4. Utilize time-saving tips. 

          Frozen veggies and fruits, a slow cooker, blender, and some high-quality food storage containers make life so much easier when it comes to meal prep and saving time. Use whatever tools you can to make the process simpler and focus on doing more at one time versus lots of meal prep throughout the week.

          Next, select one to two days to do your meal prep on a day that’s slowest for you and when you have more time to prep your food. A popular day for many is Sunday, but if you happen to have more free time on a Wednesday or Saturday, switch up your meal prep day to one that works for you. Prep multiple meals at one time and use convenient, quick options to help you get the job done in less time. It may also be helpful to label meals with days and meal times you’ll eat those meals for quick grab-and-go options during a busy week.

          5. Shop with your goals in mind.

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            Before you start your meal prep, it’s also smart to shop with your goals in mind. If you don’t know what you’re wanting from your meal prep, you can end up grabbing all kinds of things at the store that don’t actually support your meal prep.

            Trying to lose weight? Skip the impulse buys on the chocolate and snacks aisle. Looking to save time? Don’t buy items that require lots of time to prepare or hours to cook. Make a list after you select recipes that align with your goals, and stick to that when you shop.

            Now that you’ve got the proper tools and tips you need to make your meal prep a success, you might like some recipe ideas to help get you started.

            Check out these 3 ideas for healthy breakfasts that are quick to make and prepare for great meals all week long:

            1. High Protein, Low Sugar Overnight Oatmeal 

              Benefits:

              Oatmeal makes a great breakfast first thing in the day, and while warm oatmeal is great, ready-made overnight oats are even better, especially for meal prep! Oats provide fiber, protein, iron, and B vitamins, plus magnesium for all day energy. Adding yogurt will aid in digestion, boost the protein content, and also provide calcium, magnesium, and potassium for healthy minerals. Chia and flax are both great sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. They’re an excellent way to get enough fiber in the morning to help you stay full.

              Here’s how to make healthy and filling overnight oats:

              Place the following in a mason jar or a bowl in the order listed.

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              • 1/2 cup rolled (not instant or steel-cut) oats
              • 1/2 cup your choice plain Greek yogurt (or one small 5-ounce container) – choose non-dairy options if needed
              • 1/2 cup frozen berries
              • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
              • 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
              • 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
              • 1 packet of non-calorie sweetener of choice
              • extra toppings of choice (more chia, banana slices, a few nuts, or some cinnamon are popular ideas)

              Stir all the items together, seal the lid or cover the bowl, and place in the fridge. In the morning, the frozen berries will have created a delicious juice you can enjoy for extra sweetness! Make enough of these for however many days you want, but remember that the ingredients tend to get a little mushy after three days. Perhaps you can make these for three days and choose something else for the rest of the week, or just make some more again in three days.

              2. Meal Prep Protein Smoothies

                Flickr / aJ Gazmen

                Benefits:

                Smoothies are a great way to get an array of nutrients in the morning when they’re needed most to start the day off on a healthy foot. However, making your smoothie from scratch can take a lot of time. This is where smoothie prep bags come in handy. Keep in mind that it’s important not to just consume a fruit smoothie in the morning or your blood sugar levels will skyrocket. Be sure to get in some micronutrients from leafy greens and some protein along with fiber and healthy fats when you have your smoothie. It’s also helpful to stick to simple ingredients and prep enough smoothie bags for however many you’d like to have during the week.

                Here’s what you need per smoothie prep bag:

                • 1 cup of your favorite frozen fruits (berries are great)
                • 2 cups fresh spinach (or another green such as kale)
                • plastic, freezer safe baggies

                Make enough for however many days you want to have your smoothies. Store these bags in the freezer.

                To make the smoothies each morning:

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                Grab a bag from the freezer and add it to the blender. Next, add your favorite source of protein (protein powder and/or Greek yogurt), 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 cup of non-dairy milk, 1 cup ice, and a sweetener of choice. Blend until thick and creamy and enjoy on your way to work!

                3. Egg and Veggie Muffins

                  Benefits:

                  These muffins make great grab-and-go breakfasts on hurried mornings when you don’t have time to sit down and eat oatmeal or make a smoothie. They’re also a great source of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and micronutrients from vegetables. Plus, egg and veggie muffins are easy to make all at one time, and they’re even freezer-friendly! If you make them at the beginning of the week and are sure to eat them in time, they’ll also last all week in the fridge.

                  Here’s what you need:

                  • 12 whole eggs
                  • 2 cups egg whites
                  • 4 cups frozen or fresh mixed veggies (broccoli, red peppers, onions, cauliflower, carrots, etc.)
                  • 1 tsp. baking soda
                  • 1/2 cup ground flax (this will help add fiber and replace the flour)
                  • 2 tsp. seasoning of choice (black pepper or red pepper flakes goes great here)
                  • plastic (freezer-safe) baggies

                  Here’s how to make them:

                  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
                  2. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan with 12 paper liners or use non-stick spray.
                  3. Mix all the ingredients above in a blender until smooth and creamy.
                  4. Pour the mix into the prepared cups and bake for 20 minutes until set. The muffins should be golden brown on top.
                  5. Remove from the pan after 20 minutes of cool time, store 2 in a plastic baggie, and seal. Store in the fridge or freezer.
                  6. Each morning, grab a bag, open it, and reheat for 1:30 minutes in the microwave. If you keep them in the fridge, then just reheat for 30-40 seconds, and enjoy your two muffins for breakfast each morning with black coffee (or tea), and a piece of fruit of choice.

                  Want ideas for lunches and dinners? Here are over 100 creative, healthy, and delicious recipes you can make for your meal prep session. Here are 15 quick and healthy meal ideas if you happen to hate cooking.

                  Good luck with your meal prep!

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                  Last Updated on January 21, 2020

                  The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                  The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

                  Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

                  your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

                    Why You Need a Vision

                    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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                    How to Create Your Life Vision

                    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

                    What Do You Want?

                    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

                    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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                    Some tips to guide you:

                    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
                    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
                    • Give yourself permission to dream.
                    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
                    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

                    Some questions to start your exploration:

                    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
                    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
                    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
                    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
                    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
                    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
                    • What qualities would you like to develop?
                    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
                    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
                    • What would you most like to accomplish?
                    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

                    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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                    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

                    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

                    A few prompts to get you started:

                    • What will you have accomplished already?
                    • How will you feel about yourself?
                    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
                    • What does your ideal day look like?
                    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
                    • What would you be doing?
                    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
                    • How are you dressed?
                    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
                    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
                    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

                    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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                    Plan Backwards

                    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

                    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
                    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
                    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
                    • What important actions would you have had to take?
                    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
                    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
                    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
                    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
                    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

                    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

                    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

                    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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