By now, I think we all understand the value and importance of meal prep, having ready to eat or heat and eat healthy options available can only lead to a healthier way of eating. The kicker is developing the habit of meal prep. Even the thought of spending all day meal prepping can seem insurmountable and cause us to give up before we even get started.
To help you over this mental hurdle we want to give you 3 key meal prep rules. For the purpose of this post, we are going to assume that you are already going to be addressing food safety in terms of looking up how long you can keep various prepped foods in the refrigerator safely. Also, we are assuming that you are already going to be looking at portion sizes and good healthy meal prep options for protein, veggies and carbs.
These rules are strictly to get you started.
The 3 key Meal prep rules are as follows:
1. Pick a Day and stick to it. Many people find it to be most effective to meal prep on the same day as they go to the grocery store. So as soon as they have their groceries put away, they are beginning to prep items to get them ready to cook or to store if they don’t have to be cooked. This seems to keep the healthy momentum going after they’ve made all of those healthy selections at the store. The people who are most successful at meal prepping do it on the same day every week with only a little variation for flexibility.
2. Keep healthy food at eye level. When I am crushing my meal prep game, I like to keep a clear bowl of washed apples or another healthy fruit right in the middle of the fridge (some people keep them on their table and that probably works too), but what this does is put a healthy snack right in front of you every time you open the fridge.
3. Don’t hesitate to take shortcuts. When the Harvard School of Medicine came out with a study (that many doctors are now backing) that microwaving vegetables can be as effective at preserving the nutrient value of many vegetables as the once preferred method of steaming, then I took to my microwave to be my number #1 meal prep assistant. I am able to cut in half the time it takes me to cook a spaghetti squash. I can get veggies partially done in the microwave to add them into broth that I’m cooking to make a quick but delicious soup. I can grab frozen veggies and have them ready in the fridge for a buffet style meal prep anytime. I can make a delicious marinara sauce from organic tomato sauce in 3 ½ minutes. There’s also now microwaveable brown rice and the list goes on. The microwave is an excellent tool to get you out of the habit of eating packaged processed foods for the convenience of it and into the habit of eating veggies, beans, brown rice and other healthy items with the same convenience.
Hopefully these 3 rules will help you to develop the lifelong habit of meal prepping, whether you choose to portion out each meal into individual containers, or you prefer your meal prep to be buffet style where you have larger containers of cooked items that can be mixed and matched for a delicious meal. Regardless, of which way you go with meal prep be sure to get friends and family involved in meal prep day. Healthy habits can be contagious!