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.
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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 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...
Healthy Meal Prep 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. 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. On another note, is your pantry working for you? Here are my favorite (& super easy) ways to organize your pantry to make eating well easier than you can believe.
You can make all of my favorite 15 minute dinners with pantry items if you're stocked and ready to go!
Healthy Meal Prep 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.
Healthy Meal Prep Hack #3: Buy pre-cut produce
I refused to buy pre-cut produce for so long. I was dumb back then. 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 Hack #4: Prep plain proteins
Cooking a bunch of plain chicken breasts can seem boring, or ground beef. 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.
Healthy Meal Prep 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. 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.
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.
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- what helps you healthy meal prep?