A key strategy to staying on track with healthy eating and managing your weight and health goals involves setting up your environment for success. The reality is that we make 200 food decisions Every. Single. Day. Yep, 200. If that sounds like a lot, it is. While your brain is capable of making tons of decisions, it can also get wiped out from the process—known as decision fatigue. When this happens, research suggests your decision-making skills deteriorate, and you’re less likely to make a sound decision. So let’s play this out: You’re working from home, juggling the demands (and decisions) around work; making constant decisions about your family; navigating a national pandemic (and all the new decisions you need to make around that); and trying to figure out what to eat. At the end of the day, it’s easy to see why your healthy habits get derailed. To help you navigate healthy eating more successfully and with less stress and overwhelm, here are 5 time-saving ideas to help you create a weekly meal prep plan.
1. Create a protein theme.
One of my favorite weekly meal prep plans is to create a theme around protein. Let’s use chicken as an example. If you batch cook chicken—say, grilled, broiled, baked, or poached in an Instant Pot and then shredded—you can transform it into a number of different dishes over the course of several days. You can even do this with a store-bought rotisserie chicken, which is the ultimate time-saver. If you want to add chicken to your weekly meal prep plan, grab my free recipe booklet with 5 healthy recipes using a rotisserie chicken. You can always swap in your favorite meal prepped chicken in place of the rotisserie.
2. Batch cook grains.
There’s no point in making brown rice or quinoa for dinner without doubling (or tripling down) to make enough for multiple meals. These are foundational ingredients that are used in many recipes and if you have them ready, you’ll save time every instance they show up on your meal plan. This strategy has always been part of my recommended weekly meal prep plan, but is even more now that mostly everyone is eating 21 meals at home every week. Grains aren’t just a great dinner side dish. They can be served at breakfast and lunch, too, especially when they’re easy to use since you’ve already done the work of cooking them.
3. Knock out several veggies at one cutting.
You probably already know that I’m a huge proponent of eating veggies at most meals, and this strategy is much easier to implement when you’ve got some already prepped. Let’s say you’re making dinner on Sunday and you’ve got Brussels sprouts on the menu. Get them into the oven and then, while the cutting board and knife are out, knock out the broccoli, the red cabbage, and some bell peppers, too. You’ll be done before your Brussels sprouts are ready, and you’ll save 15 minutes in prep and cleanup on following days for each veggie you cut. Make sure you knock out at least one veggie you’ll snack on (such as bell peppers, celery, or cucumbers) since it’s much more annoying to chop bell peppers (or another veggie) when you’re in between meetings and need a quick bite.
4. Embrace time-saving ingredients.
The most successful people learn how to do things efficiently so decide what kitchen tasks take a lot of time and then determine how to get your time back by using a pre-prepped ingredient. For example, if the veggies are a chore, you can skip the chopping and buy pre-prepped varieties. Frozen veggies and ready-to-eat salad greens are some of my favorite time-saving ingredients since I don’t have to rinse my greens ahead of each meal or prep and chop veggies when I got a late start on making dinner. Other time-saving ingredients include frozen grains (such as brown rice and quinoa), a rotisserie chicken, pre-formed chicken and turkey burgers, and marinated meats (available at most grocery stores). What troubles you about meal prep and how can you make that less overwhelming and more efficient? Identify what you need, add it to your grocery list, make it party of your weekly meal prep plan, and be grateful for the time you saved.
5. Use a meal planning software.
When deciding what to eat feels tedious or overwhelming, a meal planning program can come in handy. I mean, let’s face it: Googling recipes, sorting through nutrition information, and jotting down a shopping list takes time. That’s why I’ve introduced a meal planning program to my clients. It eliminates some of the overwhelm and hassle and helps them stay on track with their goals. I’m excited to share that I’m now offering this service to YOU! You can try my Simple Eats plan for FREE (no credit card required) to see if it helps your weekly meal prep plan. (After that, it’s $19 a month). Here’s what you’ll get:
Each week, you’ll get an EASY meal plan with recipes and a shopping list delivered straight to your inbox.
Recipes were developed by registered dietitians to be as tasty as they are healthy and easy-to-follow.
Your plan is totally customizable, so if you don’t like one option, you have access to THOUSANDS of RD-approved recipes to swap in. Plus, you can easily adjust serving sizes on all of the recipes so whether you’re cooking for one or for a big family, you can take advantage of the program.
Less confusion about what to eat to stay healthy and on track with your goals
More time, more energy, better health, and more mental space to do the things you love (especially if meal planning isn’t on the top 10 list).
This tool can help make you confident that you’re eating well 24/7, but for people who need more guidance, I offer a free month with all of my packages. If you’re looking for a wellness tune-up, I can get you off and running! This package includes a deep dive into your eating habits, a customized meal plan that I tailor to your goals and preferences after speaking with you (saving you time and hassle), and weekly feedback on your food log. It’s like having an RD shadowing you! I suggest helpful swaps and strategies directly in the meal plan, and give you pointers on your food log. This package was designed to help you refresh your eating habits successfully with the lowest time investment. It’s ideal if you just need to reboot your eating habits or you want to get pointed in the right direction and understand where you might be standing in your own way. If you want to learn more about my packages and process, schedule a call to chat.