If you want to eat more at home, and want to make it easy, healthy meal prep is the way to find yourself making more delicious meals instead of grabbing disappointing take out night after night. Here's how you Meal Plan for One, and recipes you can Make Ahead and Store, and my best tips on How to Master Cooking for One.
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I recently surveyed over a hundred women who cook for themselves and found time after time that cooking for one is hard. It's something that many don't look forward to, even from people who do like cooking. I feel it. Cooking a nice meal, then sitting down at your table for one can be lonely. Also, finding the desire/motivation to cook for yourself after a long day at work can be one rough situation. But after years of cooking for myself, I've found a few healthy meal prep tactics that make cooking for myself something to look forward to, something to enjoy, and actually something that seems easier than grabbing take out.
Having a few cooking hacks up my sleeve, a few pre-prepared meals, and a well stocked pantry/fridge were keys that helped me eat well during the week, without too much effort.
Oh and having a few healthy meal prep hacks up my sleeve, well that's helpful too.
I shared my meal prep process last year, this is a great place to get started, as the method we use is just as important as what we prep. My meal prep process is one that will make your life easier, it's a quick guide to get started and play around with a few ideas to save you time and energy.
Ok, let's get to the healthy meal prep hacks...
Hack #1: Have a well stocked pantry
I shared my favorite pantry items recently. Check it out! Having a well stocked pantry is so important for everyone, especially people who are cooking for one and want to healthy meal prep. If you have a well stocked pantry (most of the time) you can throw together meals that you can actually look forward to! No more cereal or boring eggs-unless you're craving either, than that's awesome! You can even make homemade pasta sauce with pantry staples-and it doesn't take much time.
You can make all of my favorite 15 minute dinners with pantry items if you're stocked and ready to go! Download your pantry guide here.
Hack #2: Order Groceries
So many grocery stores these days offer delivery or groceries for pick up. Sure most charge a small fee, but think about all the impulse buys that you won't be making. Do a weekly order, or order ingredients for dinner from work. Amazon also has a pantry staples, for now. I'm sure there will be so many more grocery delivery options over the next year or 2. Again, healthy meal prep doesn't need to look any particular way, do what 1) makes life easier and 2) allows you to eat food you enjoy.
Hack #3: Buy pre-cut produce
I refused to buy pre-cut produce for so long. I thought the best way for healthy meal prep was to DO ALL the meal prep. That made my life more complicated than it needed to be. Pre-cut produce is a bit more expensive, but if you find rotten produce in your fridge all the time because it takes too much time to chop up those vegetables, you've got to buy pre-cut produce. It's time saving, easy, and makes throwing vegetables into whatever you're making just so easy! All you have to do is get in the habit of using it. I recommend grabbing a bag of pre-cut veggies when you're grabbing whatever else you're going to cook. That way it's there and a visual reminder to toss it in. Healthy meal prep is about making cooking WORK FOR YOU.
Hack #4: Prep plain proteins
Cooking a bunch of plain chicken breasts to keep up with your healthy meal prep can seem boring. But cooking it at the beginning of the week allows you to make a few different dishes out of it and not eat the exact same leftovers day after day. I recently used leftover beef from my stuffed squash recipe in the most delicious & easy Thai beef & spinach dish. Like I actually ate and enjoyed sauteed spinach for the 2nd time in my life with this recipe.
Hack #5: Hack your meal planning
hack the hack? oh yes! If the thought of prepping and planning meals ahead of time is overwhelming, you don't have to do it. Invest in a dinner box. The best way to healthy meal prep is to find ways to reduce your stress around eating, and that definitely includes outsourcing it! I've tried Hello Fresh a few times, it's delicious, the recipes are quick and easy, and you don't have to plan or prep meals, they come to you-food, instructions, and all!
I haven't tried it, but have had clients try Gobble. Their meals take 15 minutes! 15 minutes, and in one pan. Amazing! They like them, and love the convenience.
If you don't want full meal boxes, you can subscribe to meal planning services like Living Plate or Cook Smarts and get recipes + shopping lists sent directly to you. You don't need to do all the meal prep yourself to have some healthy meal prep.
Finally, I'd like to share something that took me years to realize.
Eating healthy isn't as complicated as we make it out to be.
Back when I tried to eat certain way to 'be healthy' to be that healthy dietitian that I felt like I had to be, I was extra stressed about what I ate. Food tasted good sometimes, but I often had greater expectations for how I was to eat than how I could actually eat.
Eating healthy is finding ways to eat foods that make your body feel good, and also find ways to make eating fit within your lifestyle and your individual needs. Overcomplicating eating doesn't help us, it just makes eating well too difficult and not sustainable. I've personally worked to eat more intuitively, and have worked with my clients to do the same. That sometimes means that I eat lots of produce, other times not so much. A healthful diet takes into account your general eating patterns, not just one meal, not just one bite, it's also something that doesn't complicate your life-a healthful diet enhances it. Use these healthy meal prep ideas to easily incorporate a variety of foods into your day not to feel like you have to eat any particular way.
What are your favorite tips for healthy meal prep?
Recipes are great, but you’ll need a simple 3 step process to create a meal plan and use these healthy meal prep tips that make cooking easy & helps you stop wasting food. Check out this expertly developed meal planning guide to get started.