Often times people shy away from food prep because they assume that it means you’ll need to cook every component for every meal for the week and that it’ll eat up an entire day of your life. I’m here to tell you that’s NOT the case, and if it has been for you, then I encourage you to erase it from your memory and try again. As I’ve seen with past clients and people who’ve joined seminars or classes I’ve run, if you felt stressed, there’s a good chance you threw in the towel and said “I’m not cut out for this” and went back to no prep at all.
After you do some pantry inventory as I discussed a couple of weeks ago, prepping ahead is a fantastic way to decrease stress and save time throughout the week, not the opposite. What may take some time and work in the beginning is finding the type of food prep that works best for you, and if applicable, the rest of your household.
Before I jump into different food prep styles, there’s one style in addition to the above that I would never advocate for, and that’s the kind where you prep the same food to eat every day all week. Why?
- One, if you like chicken or tofu, I’d love for you to still like it in two weeks versus getting to the point of “I hate food, this is hard, I’ll just eat a whole pizza tonight”.
- Two, even if you did somehow enjoy eating a chicken breast with a plain sweet potato and broccoli at lunch every single day (stop trying to convince yourself you do), you’d be drastically limiting your diet’s variety, thereby limiting intake of vitamins, minerals and other beneficial plant compounds – I’m talking thousands of them – that work together to benefit your health.
- Three, if you stick to this long term some how, there’s a chance that you start to fear eating anything else and become a bit obsessive about the meal from a security perspective (read: higher chance of disordered eating).
Below are different food prep recommendations for different personality types. It may confuse you that I’m identifying you as a “breakfast prepper” if you’ve never planned anything for breakfast yet in your life, but if you keep on telling yourself you’re the person that doesn’t plan for it and the person who always eats a poorly balanced morning meal, you’re reinforcing that. Start thinking of yourself now as the person who achieves that task and own it (read You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero if you need more inspiration about/like this and if you have no time to read, its on audible).
If you feel like you don’t do any of the below yet, and your eating pattern is completely disorganized- go easy on yourself! Trying to change it all at once is going to back fire and you’ll end up at square one again. Embrace the gray area – this is NOT all or nothing. Every bit of prep helps, even if all you do this weekend is cook a pot of quinoa or make a batch of slow cooker oatmeal.
Choose which of the following to work on based on either what you need most in your life right now, or based on what’s most realistic and achievable so that you can feel awesome when you’re accomplishing what you set out to!
The Breakfast Prepper
- If you’re the type to workout in the morning, hit snooze, get distracted with chores, or have kids who need you to get their life together in the morning, you’re more likely to eat an inadequate breakfast or worse, skip it. Like my husband, you’ll benefit from being the breakfast prepper. Check out my egg muffin recipe below and pair them with something new each day – toast, banana and nut butter, a bagel, a yogurt smoothie, or put them in a wrap and head out.
The Lunch Packer
- For those of you that have no problem getting a meal together in the morning and who have your go-to week night meals, lunch may be where you need to focus if you tend to feel lost, spend lots of money ordering or dining out at lunch, wind up snacking for lunch, or going too long without eating during the day because you have no plan. Lunch doesn’t have to be a sandwich everyday, either. While an occasional wrap or sandwich may hit the spot, you can also bring tacos to work (pack the shells separately!), use hard boiled eggs with a salad and quick microwaveable quinoa in a pinch, or my personal favorite, just make double for dinner so you can always have leftovers for lunch! This fast food power bowl is also great if you are home during the week.
The Ingredient Prepper
- I’m the ultimate ingredient prepper. I’m indecisive by nature and couldn’t imagine ever planning out exactly what I’d be eating all week. So, while I may make a big batch of soup, chili, or a lentil bake, I’m more likely to be prepping meal components and adding the dressings, sauces and toppings later.
- To ingredient prep you’ll need to make starches proteins and veggies. Great thing is, you can do it all at once, then in an hour, have the components you need to throw together later.
- Starches: Bake potatoes in a covered ceramic baking dish while cooking a batch of quinoa or rice on your stove or in your pressure cooker.
- Proteins: bake tofu, tempeh, or chicken and have hard boiled eggs and salmon burgers in the freezer ready to cook in minutes when you need them.
- Veggies: While the potatoes and proteins are in the oven, roast some broccoli, peppers, butternut squash, green beans – you name it, you can roast it!
The Dinner Planner
- If you don’t mind, and actually find comfort in, knowing what you’ll eat or dinner each night, planning it out is for you. Having some go-to week night recipes is helpful, but knowing what they’ll be on Sunday is better – that way you aren’t running to the grocery store 3 times a week on the way home from work. Filter in some slow cooker meals on Wednesday once life gets hectic, and have fun with breakfast for dinner on Thursdays.
Now, my breakfast peppers, I’ve got you covered. These super simple muffins have a texture that really holds up and you can pair them with toast, fruit, or throw them into a wrap with some hummus on the go! I’ll be sharing a new breakfast wrap recipe next Friday, too.
Easy Veggie Egg Muffins
- 8 eggs
- 8 ounces frozen broccoli, thawed and chopped
- 4 ounces frozen spinach, thawed
- 4 ounces roasted red peppers, diced
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add all vegetables to a mixing bowl and stir well before beating in the eggs and seasoning.
- Pour into a standard size muffin tin, filling just above 3/4 to the top.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Once cooled, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator up to 5 days, or in a sealed container in the freezer.