Whether you’re trying to prep meals to lose weight or because you’re just trying to make a healthy lifestyle change, a bit of meal prep can help you meet your goals. When you’re trying to adopt healthier eating habits, making your eating routine as simple as possible is critical to your success. But let’s face it, spending a few hours prepping meals on a Sunday is anything but easy. Here are some healthy meal prep ideas that keep things sane so you can reach your health goals.
Who should try easy meal prep
The truth is, most people could benefit from this approach. The time you put into planning and prepping some of your food can make it easier for you to eat well, even after a long, stressful day or another obstacle comes up. Just think about it: When are you inclined to order pizza or takeout food? When are you most vulnerable to comfort eating? Often, these eating situations become the default because a healthy alternative feels too time-consuming or challenging in some way. When you get hungry, you don’t want to think about what’s for dinner or what you’ll snack on because you’ve already got a lot on your mind.
If you participate in easy meal prep, you’ll have an easy alternative waiting for you, so you can be more deliberate about how to proceed, which helps support your healthy lifestyle change goals.
Easy meal prep step one: Pick one to two breakfasts
Most people are fine eating the same one or two breakfast meals, which is a perfectly healthy habit. If you’re someone who craves more variety, you can always switch up your breakfast options next week. Whether or not you’re prepping meals to lose weight, I recommend a protein-rich breakfast. That’s because when your body goes into maintenance mode overnight, you break down muscle tissue. This is totally normal! But to repair your muscle (and therefore, preserve your metabolism and strength), you need to get protein in the morning. I’m sorry to say that avocado toast won’t cut it. You need some eggs, Greek yogurt, tofu, hemp seeds, or another source of protein. You can get some high protein breakfast ideas here. If you have trouble meeting your protein needs at breakfast, a protein powder can be helpful. Here are the best types of protein powder.
Easy meal prep step two: Pick two to three lunches
If you don’t crave that much variety, stick with two lunches for the sake of lazy meal prep, but if that’s not going to fly, then decide on three. Make use of easy ingredients such as ready-to-eat salad greens, canned tuna, and steamed lentils. Just about everyone could use more veggies in their lives, so make sure you include them in your meals. A good rule of thumb is to have twice the amount of veggies to starchy carbs.
Easy meal prep step three: Pick three dinners
Round out your healthy meal prep with three dinner options. Remember, you can add more variety next week. I usually stick with easy recipes that I can quickly prep during the week. Turkey burgers, tacos, roasted salmon, sauteed shrimp, and baked tofu are some of the dinners we eat on repeat. One way to keep things simple is to roast a few different veggies to serve with any of your dinners. For instance, roast some broccoli and Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan, and then you can have them with any of the meals you’re cooking. It’s also easiest to make one batch of a single ingredient grain, like brown rice, and repurpose it with meals during the week.
Easy meal prep step four: Make a list
You don’t have to go old school and get out the paper and pencil (though you can if it’s helpful), but take at least 10 minutes to get a rough sense of what you’re going to make this week. Take stock of what you have that you want to use up and what you’ll need to add toy our grocery list. Next, shop for those foods and ingredients. The time you spend at doing this saves you time on your grocery haul because you’ll be more organized.
Easy meal prep tips
Here are some extra tips to help you minimize prep and clean up while always having balanced meals readily available.
When you make a meal, make enough to have leftovers. This is especially helpful when it comes to dinners.
Always prep one extra thing. When you have your cutting board out to cut broccoli, slice up some cucumbers to eat with snacks. You get the idea!
Take advantage of ingredient shortcuts. If veggies are the challenge, try prepped produce, including frozen options. Use a rotisserie chicken if you want a light night (or two) in the kitchen. Have ready-to-heat grains available in case you don’t have the time or energy to cook them.
Consider frozen entrees. Even with meal prep shortcuts, meal planning and cooking can get tiring sometimes. Keeping a couple of healthy frozen entrees around can help you continue to keep up with your healthy lifestyle changes. Here are some healthy frozen entrees to try.
Lean on easy seasonings. Keep a basic supply of ingredients, like pesto, low-sugar marinara sauce, and coconut aminos or lower-sodium soy sauce handy so you can easily upgrade a bland meal.
As a backup, rely on healthy takeout. If you need a night off of cooking or weren’t quite prepared, healthy takeout food can help you sustain your healthy lifestyle changes. By the way, it’s also okay to rely on healthy takeout food as part of your easy meal prep strategy! Do you know you need a break from the kitchen mid-week? Or a meeting or pickup duty one evening? Plan to get healthy takeout on these nights. Here’s are tips to help you order healthy takeout food.
Consider a healthy meal delivery service. If prep and planning aren’t your thing, or you want to take a break from it, a healthy meal delivery service is a helpful option. I covered healthy meal delivery services and kits here.
Need some easy recipe ideas? Here are 10 balanced meals or snacks that can be made in 10 minutes or less! Download your free recipe booklet here. You can also get a free booklet with 5 healthy recipes that use a rotisserie chicken here. Enjoy!