When you hear the phrase “meal planning,” what do you think of? Many people are intimidated by the idea of planning out meals days and weeks in advance, often feeling like there’s not enough time to think so far ahead. After all, no one wants to spend an entire Sunday shopping, prepping and cooking! It doesn’t need to be such a daunting prospect, though; Meal planning and preparation can be as simple or as involved as you want it to be. My suggestion is to start out simple and have a few basics on hand every week to lay a foundation based on your preferences for healthy eating. The reality is that if you prioritize less than an hour of your time at the beginning of the week, you are actually going to save time and money later while maintaining healthy eating habits on a daily basis.
When planning meals for the work week, it’s important to be considerate of what types of foods you’re including. It’s always best to include a source of protein with every meal or snack, as protein-rich foods will keep you satisfied for longer and help build and maintain muscle mass. A few easy protein sources are hardboiled eggs, lean chicken, cheese sticks, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, seeds and hummus
Additionally, a serving of fruit or vegetable with protein insures you are eating adequate vitamins and minerals and getting enough fiber daily. Apples, pears, bananas, berries, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, celery and cucumbers are all readily available and easy to grab for any meal.
Once you have some of these basics on hand, assemble some of your “meals” so you can easily grab them on your way out the door:
- Hard boil eggs are good for a full week in the refrigerator. Make some in advance so that they’re ready to grab on the go.
- Wash fruits & vegetables, cut up and separate into bags if appropriate (for example, berries and veggies).
- Portion out nuts & seeds into ¼ cup servings ahead of time.
- Portion out servings of hummus or other healthy dips into separate containers for easy veggie dipping.
- Grill a large batch of lightly seasoned chicken, cut and portion out for easy snacking.
The above should actually take you less than an hour, but it will save you a lot of time during the busy week and keep you energized. You can prevent food boredom by varying your fruits and vegetables every week, taking advantage of seasonal produce and experimenting with different healthy sauce and dip recipes. While these ideas will help you start forming healthy habits, completely changing your diet may be daunting. Our certified nutritionists can help you find a personalized nutrition plan that fits your lifestyle. For more information or to request an appointment, click here.