My meal prep is usually a combination of fully prepared meals and prepped portions of ingredients so I can make something fresh in the middle of the week with no preparation.
For breakfast, I usually make ahead two or three different options and alternate them throughout the week. Overnight oats and chia puddings topped with fresh fruit take no time to mix together, and actually gets better the longer you let it sit. The fruit topping changes depending on what’s in season, providing plenty of variety. You can also use a flavoured yogurt or even coconut milk to change it up even more. My favourite breakfast to make is a tray of, is morning muffins with zucchini and egg. They’re rich in protein and low in starch. And while zucchini is my favourite, carrot and banana are tasty substitutes if you want a different flavour.
Smoothies are a great morning snack, and can by partially prepped ahead of time. I will prep my smoothies for a few weeks in about 15 minutes by portioning out all of my fruits, veggies, seeds, nut butters, coconut oil in Ziploc freezer bags. In the morning before heading out the door I just blend a bag with coconut water or almond milk and I have a snack on-the-go.
Lunch is usually a variety of salad bowls or grain bowls, fully prepared and assembled ahead of time with the dressing kept on the side. I alternate protein throughout the week between a fish like wild salmon, lean cuts of chicken, and legumes such as chickpeas or lentils. I pick seasonal vegetables and always make my own salad dressings from scratch.
For dinners I like to do a combination of make-ahead dishes and meals that can be cooked mid-week with no prep time. For my make-ahead meals I cook in large batches and freeze, so they can be reheated in smaller portions as needed. Some of my favourites are lean ground turkey balls with an herb-infused marinara sauce, and lemongrass coconut curry with eggplant and I can add any protein that I want.
For a fresh-cooked meal on a budget, a crockpot is your best friend. All of the ingredients can be prepped on Sunday and portioned into freezer bags. In the morning, take out a bag for dinner that night and throw it in the crock pot. By the time you get home there will be a hearty meal that has been slow cooked all day, and you can freeze any leftovers without losing the nutritional value. Slow cooking tenderizes cheaper cuts of meat helping to stretch your dollar. And it makes your home smell incredible! You get a fresh cooked meal without losing a day in the kitchen. I love making a beef stew with red wine, bay leaf, and all of my favourite vegetables. Stewing beef is so affordable but the finished dish is a French classic that looks like you slaved over the stove all day. Spicy chicken tinga is another favourite, featuring shredded chicken and a spicy tomato sauce.
There is no excuse for not having the time to eat or cook when you can get organized in a few hours for your whole week. I am now a meal prep specialist and have taught myself and many clients to get organized in the kitchen. I also teach how to grocery shop in a one-on-one educational grocery tour at a location close to my clients’ home. We go over how to read nutritional labels, and what to buy to keep your pantry fully stocked with the healthy essentials. This is followed by a one-on-one cooking session based around a personalized nutrition plan created for the client’s specific health goals. Productivity at its finest! I love teaching my clients to enhance their lifestyle through nutrition.
Meal prep is also great to do in numbers, so if you are looking for ways to spend time with friends or family why not get healthy together by cutting down your time and cost by it all in half? It is nice to go to the market with a friend or loved one and cook together, especially knowing that what you are going to eat is going to bring you that much closer to your healthiest, happiest self.
I always am so happy after I finish my meal prep for the week. I feel so accomplished knowing that I have so much free time, and peace of mind knowing that I am all set up to be eating as well as possible!