I wonder what Ben Franklin was eating back in his day. His diet probably didn’t look much like what we eat today but he knew what he was talking about when he said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This applies to more than just healthy eating but when it comes to meal prep it’s spot on! Here are my top ten tips on how to maintain a healthy eating lifestyle throughout the busy work week.
#1 Dedicate Prep Day
First thing is first, identify your Sunday. For many of us it actually is Sunday, but with varying schedules in today’s ever-changing work world just pick the day before the start of your work week. Dedicate part of your day to shopping, cooking and meal preparation. This is your planning day, it’s your strategy session, it’s the day that will set you up for success (or failure) for the rest of the week. If you skip out on the plan, your likelihood for success will decrease exponentially. Don’t look at it as a sacrifice, look at it as an investment. An investment that will ensure you meet your goals for the upcoming five days.
#2 Make A Menu
It’s a little different than asking, “do you feel like Chinese or Italian tonight?” And asking yourself what sounds good to eat this entire week might sound like an overwhelming question. Most would probably reply, “I have no idea what I want to eat all week long!” Instead ask the question, “what will fuel my body and maintain my energy?” As far as “feel like” you’ll find that if you have meals prepped ahead of time and you get hungry, most of the time you’ll be excited to eat what you’ve prepared regardless of what you “feel like.” At each meal you want to make sure you have enough nutrients and healthy fats to satiate you and keep your energy up. Test what that is for you. It varies from person-to-person but an overall guideline is 30% healthy fats, 40% unrefined, complex carbohydrates (the green kind) and 30% grass-fed, free-range high-quality protein. If you pay attention to the quality and ratios of these food categories you are more likely to feel satisfied, not deprived, and be much less likely to grab one of the doughnuts in the break room.
#3 Write A List
Grocery stores are a business like any other — they’re designed to distract you and get you to buy, buy, buy. We’ve all heard of the “impulse buy” positioned next to the register to add those few extra bucks onto the sale. So go in prepared and ready with that awareness in your mind. Make your visit to the store planned and strategic so you can get in, get out and get home to meal prep and cook! You’ll save both time and money by writing a list and sticking to it.
#4 Varied Batch Cooking
Double up on your weekly menu and freeze the leftovers. For instance, I love to roast a whole chicken in the oven and then make bone broth to freeze for later. I will eat some of the roasted chicken as is, make a chicken salad from some of it and freeze the broth for a quick chicken soup later in the week or even in the upcoming weeks ahead. Bone broth is one of the most nourishing foods, healthy for the gut where some 80% of our immune system is located. Think of ways to cook a larger amount once and use it in several different ways.
#5 Ready-to-Eat Meal Prep
What if there’s no time to cook? Sometimes just preparing food to be ready to eat is sufficient. Salad jars are a great way to have fresh veggies on hand. Clean lettuce, chop veggie toppings, prepare homemade salad dressings — this way there’s no guessing as to what’s for lunch or dinner. Top with some protein like canned sardines or tuna and you are good to go!
#6 Store and Ice
Use the freezer to keep leftovers fresh. I love to have soups and bone broths in the freezer at all times, this way I have a healthy back up plan. Lentil soup, split pea, chili or even plain chicken broth can help you have something to fall back on when fresh food in the fridge runs low. As for storage, try to move away from plastics as we know now that they have estrogens that get absorbed into our bodies which throw our hormones out of whack. You could invest in some paper cups with lids for freezing food. Another option is a FoodSaver, even though it uses plastic. Pick your battles, I guess. I like my pyrex glass food storage containers for the fridge. They do have plastic lids but at least the part holding the food is glass. Never put hot food in the refrigerator (or freezer for that matter) while it’s still hot. Let it cool first and if you decide to freeze glass containers don’t fill them too full so they have room to expand.
The incredible, edible egg! Take advantage of what’s been called nature’s “perfect food.” Protein and fat need to be eaten together for the body to best absorb nutrients and the egg has both all in one tidy little package. Be sure to eat the yolks, as Liz Wolfe says in her book of the same title. Boil a batch on Sunday and you’ll have breakfast, snacks and salad toppings handy for on-the-go eating.
#8 Multiple-Use Muffins
Muffin tins can be a great help for making small, packaged and quick meals all-in-one. Think Thanksgiving feast in a muffin — turkey and stuffing with cranberries all packed into one little muffin. Or for the sweet side of things, almond flour banana nut muffins are delicious and a healthier treat than any processed snack. Go sweet or savory and you’ll have lots of them around by baking the whole tin full. Use them for lunch paired with a salad or solo for a snack.
#9 Find Your Staples
What are the weekly foods you just can’t live without? Find out what staples you need to have to help you whip up a meal in a pinch. I like to have tomatoes, onions, eggs, avocados, a veggie like zucchini and rice noodles on hand at all times. If I have those few items, I can make a homemade tomato sauce on top of rice noodles and zucchini or an omelet with sliced avocado on the side. Presto — an instant meal!
#10 Frozen is next best
It can be hard to keep food fresh and appetizing for a whole week. As back up I like to stock the freezer with some frozen, organic veggies and meats. I have salmon, bacon and ground bison frozen in the freezer at all times. This way even if I don’t have fresh food in the fridge ready for cooking, I can pull something frozen out, let it thaw in the refrigerator and cook it up after work. Frozen green beans or a mix of corn and peas with butter and sea salt alongside some broiled salmon is a great healthy meal after all the fresh salad has been eaten and you’re feeling less creative after a week of similar flavors.
These top ten tips can help you stay successful on your journey to build or maintain a healthy lifestyle. The upfront time investment is well worth keeping a healthy mind and body. Let’s face it, if our bodies are unhealthy our mind is likely cluttered as well. So plan ahead and expect success!
If tips like these are already in your awareness but you find yourself still not taking action, consider coaching. Having a coach helps you create a vision of what you want out of life, stay on task and make your goals a reality. If you’d like to find out if coaching is right for you, drop me a line at: http://www.yourhealthpath.com/contact/