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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 August 20, 2018

                  35 Anniversary Ideas to Bring You Closer Together

                  35 Anniversary Ideas to Bring You Closer Together

                  Every mature relationship has had a less-than-memorable anniversary. Maybe one of you forgot, or both of you got busy with work, kids, family issues, or something else. Whatever happened, the day came and went without fanfare. And neither of you seemed to notice or much care.

                  But for the health of any relationship, it’s important to make important days feel special. Anniversaries offer the wonderful opportunity to relive beautiful memories, practice gratefulness for your partner, and to show your love and strengthen your bond. Make this year’s anniversary with your significant other something special  — one that will bring you closer together.

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                  The best way to create a memorable anniversary is to do something new and different together as a couple. Stretch yourselves a bit.

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                  While boredom can silently kill a relationship, new experiences reinforce the shared bond you already have and create strong new memories. Just think back to the most significant memories you have right now with your spouse and imagine what new ones you can create!

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                  While you enjoy your chosen anniversary activity, be sure to keep a positive attitude and make your partner happy too on that day. Leave all arguments and day to day detail behind. Just celebrate your relationship. Whether you’re going to spend the day together at home, getting away, or having a wild and crazy new experience together, you can have your best anniversary yet!

                  If You’re Staying In

                  1. Spend an evening with no technology, just the two of you and maybe a board game. It’s hard to keep ourselves away from our computers and smartphones long enough to have a meaningful conversation. Make a rule not to use your tech and you’ll rekindle your relationship!
                  2. Make wine or beer together. If you enjoy drinking together, this is a fun activity to try together. Just remember to buy the necessary equipment ahead of time.
                  3. Learn something new about each other. With an open mind, try asking some of the New York Times’ 36 questions that lead to love. They’ll help spark intimacy and will lead to some really honest moments.
                  4. Have a lazy day. Breakfasts in bed, spend all day in bed talking and napping. Follow breakfast with champagne and dessert! If you feel like getting more active, cook together or play some games. Here’re some simple breakfast ideas for you.
                    • Learn to dance at home. This is best for those active couples who work out together and also enjoy learning something new together. Just go on Youtube to find any music with dance tutorials and learn together.
                    • Visit model homes or open houses and plan your dream home.
                    • Have a special dessert – champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Having an unusual treat makes a day feel extra special. If you want to make the dessert really special, try these tasty dessert recipes.
                    • Create a playlist of your favorite songs as a couple. Choose songs that tell your story, and songs that you bonded over throughout your relationships. Here’re some love songs ideas for your inspirations.
                      • Write your love story. Write it together or ave each of you write your own and then bring them together in an interesting, both sides of the story format.
                      • Get a fondue pot. Fondue is a fun way to enjoy melted cheeses (for savory items) and melted chocolate (for sweeter treats).
                      • Decorate! Turn your home into a dressed-up french cottage, a sophisticated restaurant, or simply with flowers. The different ambience will immediately change the feel of your home and make it feel like a staycation.
                        • Talk about the future together. It might sound simple and everyday, but imagining how you want to spend your retirement together, or planning future trips can be exciting and romantic.

                        If You Want to Get Away

                        1. Take a day trip together to your favorite spot. If you live in a city, it can be incredibly refreshing to get away for an afternoon and drink in the outdoors.
                        2. Go on a scenic drive and stop at a wine and cheese bar. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have lots of options where you live, try a brewpub. There are tons of small craft breweries with fantastic food options too.
                        3. Go camping. Relatively affordable and, if the weather’s right, beautiful and romantic.
                          • Take an overnight backpacking trip. For the more adventurous couples, backpacking is an even more intense way to challenge yourself physically while becoming one with nature.
                          • Take a wine tasting tour. If you live on the West Coast or in the Northeast, take a drive to the nearest winery. Many offer relatively inexpensive tastings and deals if you purchase a certain amount.
                          • Take a scenic train trip. Taking the train means less stress traveling: nobody has to drive, you don’t have to stop for breaks every few hours, and you can sleep if you need to!
                          • Save up for a destination vacation. What better time than your anniversary to enjoy the beach at a beautiful resort?
                          • Explore a new city. Whether you’re on a budget or have a lot saved up, you can have a great time just exploring an unfamiliar town.
                          • Rent a cabin for a weekend away, in the woods or next to a lake or ocean. If you like the outdoors but can only take so much nature, try glamping.
                            • Go on a retreat. Yoga retreats, meditation retreats, beautiful natural surroundings … they’re all the rage. Search for centeredness and calm with your partner.
                            • Spend a day at a food festival. Many cities have fun and affordable food festivals, occasionally based on a theme. Check out your town’s (or a nearby city) calendar for inspiration!

                            New & Exciting Experiences

                            1. Go spelunking. Dark, damp, and utterly exciting!
                            2. Go on a hot air balloon ride. Because the basket is relatively small, this can be a romantic and deeply personal – and yet thrilling –
                              experience.
                              • Try sky diving. If you and you S.O. are real thrill-seekers, sky diving can really push you to the edge!
                              • Explore the underwater world by snorkeling or scuba diving. This may take you far away from where you normally live and work, which is an added bonus.
                              • Experience white water rafting.
                              • Drive or hike to the highest spot nearby for a new view of the world. America has tons of beautiful mountains where challenging hikes (or drives) can deliver breathtaking views.
                              • Take a craft or cooking class. Up your craft skills or food  making skills, and enjoy something new!
                                • Take a wine and painting class today. These classes are easily found these days and even a beginning painter can create a nice painting. Challenging but relaxing, fun, and you get to go home with some artwork!
                                • Learn to salsa dance. Dancing is a fantastic way to actively get closer and coordinate physically with one another.
                                  • Visit a nearby festival you’ve always wanted to go to. Have fun and let go with fellow audience-members!
                                  • Spend the day at an amusement park together. Laugh and carry on like teenagers.
                                  • Meet new people! At a restaurant, concert, or class, make it a point to meet new friends. Striking up conversation with someone you don’t know – but with whom you have shared interests – can be an adventurous and rewarding experience.

                                  Whether your budget is big or small, and whether you have a little or a ton of time together, focus on each other. There are tons of options, in terms of location, level of physical activity, and cost. You can make the day special in a way that’s right for you!

                                  Featured photo credit: Photo by Taylor L. Spurgeon on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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