Meal Planning & Meal Prepping (even with a richly scheduled life)

Today I was inspired to do this post, so it’s not going to be beautiful and full of pictures. I will expand on this topic throughout the years and as my life changes and evolves, and it’ll be more colorful. But for today, it’s just the facts jack. 

I was told recently that I couldn’t call a recipe something because it required baked potatoes and no one is baking potatoes the night before for breakfast. Cool, that’s your prerogative. It’s your life. But in my life, if I’m having a baked potato for dinner, why the hell not bake a couple extras to use as leftovers? After all the oven is already on, you’re already cooking. Why in the world would you not want to maximize your time?

Life is BUSY. I know I don’t need to tell you that. Especially, those of you with children on top of your job, they have their activities. But I know about busy. I work full time. My job 9 – 10 months of the year, is richly scheduled and my day can change on me without a moments notice. Our life is also dictated a lot by the weather. Try controlling that…

But even though I have and my husband even more so than I do, have packed schedules. We eat healthy, homemade meals together every single day. Breakfast and dinner. We pack our lunches from home as well. It is profoundly important to me that we have those meals together and that they are nutrient dense fuel for our bodies and active life.

How do we do it? Simple. I prioritize healthy meals, and I have come to the decision that in order to take care of our bodies and what we put in them, requires me to think ahead and do a few things in my spare time to make that happen. We also don’t want to spend a fortune on healthy foods at the grocery store, so again I think ahead. I make a plan.

I’m going to let you in on my not so secret, secret. If you are more into the health and fitness way of thinking you’ve heard about it but until you start doing you have no idea what a GAME CHANGER it is. I meal plan and meal prep. If you follow me on instagram you know I talk a bit about this. For me this was life changing. I now eat a healthy breakfast every day, we know every night what is for dinner, we only purchase things we need for those meals that week, and we have a healthy dinner every night.

I use to be afraid of meal prepping. The idea of eating all week the same damn thing? No F*cking thank you.

However, I couldn’t get myself to eat breakfast consistently and the days I didn’t eat breakfast I’d be hangry by 10am. And no one wants that. So I began meal prep by just doing breakfast. One week I’d make a frittata for the week, the next week I’d roast potatoes and heat them up in the morning with some spinach and top with a fried egg. I’d make sure every week it was something different so I wouldn’t be bored or sick of my food. And it literally took no time on Sunday to this, maybe an hour or so depends on what I was making. Sometimes, I just did it while I was already cooking and making a mess of the kitchen anyways.

Once, I realized that meal prep didn’t have to be the way I thought it was, I started getting creative. These days I carve out a little time on Sunday. Sometimes it’s a hour, sometimes its a half a day. It depends on what we’re doing that weekend, and how prepared I want to be for the week ahead. If it’s going to be a hectic week, then I will do more on Sunday to make the week nights easier. I don’t make everything we eat during the week on Sunday. But if there is something that will take time and hold in the fridge well, I’ll knock it out then.

And I’m always making the breakfast components that I can on Sunday, those take priority. Because I’m not going to slave in the kitchen in the morning when I’m getting ready for work. I don’t expect anyone else to either.

Meal planning started as I incorporated a new healthier lifestyle to myself. I bought these pads that even have a magnet on the back to schedule out meals. I was purchasing more fresh vegetables and fruit then we were actually using. And some nights after a long, long day the idea of what to cook for dinner was just one more decision I did not want to make.

These days I make my meal plan for the week, thinking about what we have in the fridge and freezer, what nights are going to be late or we have something happening and then I place quick meals on days that I think might be questionable with our schedules. Then I make a grocery list for what we actually have to buy. It saves money, and the majority of the decision making during the week around what the hell to eat is already done.

It’s so nice, because you’re actually doing yourself a favor. You’re making your own life easier by doing that. At least that’s how I feel. Now, this system might not work for everyone. I’m a list maker and I like to be organized so a system like meal planning and doing some prep makes me feel good and centered and not so overwhelmed. I still love to get creative and play in the kitchen with no plan at all and I generally don’t schedule Saturday’s dinner unless I have something in mind already. That day is usually one that I don’t work all day, and at least half if not all day is mine.

If you find yourself struggling with a healthy lifestyle change or just making dinner every night for your family or even like my nemesis eating breakfast is hard because mornings don’t have enough time. Incorporate a few meal prep practices.

It can be as simple as batch cooking potatoes or vegetables or protein and using them to create a meal during the nights you’re richly scheduled. Having a plan and prepare is crucial to success in anything. Your diet and health is no different.

You don’t even have to do anything on Sunday to meal prep. You can just do extra why you’re already cooking dinner on any night of the week. Making roasted vegetables? Do an extra sheet pan and use those for breakfast/lunch/dinner on another day. Baking potatoes? Do more than you need for dinner, they keep in the fridge and can be incorporated into lots of recipes for any meal. Grilling steaks? Make an extra and it can be used in a breakfast hash, or on top of a salad or sliced up for stir fry or soup.

There are many possibilities. And doing it while you’re cooking dinner already is a great way to start out. Because you’re already cooking: you don’t have to sacrifice spare time on the weekend, the kitchen is already going to be a mess from cooking (cook twice/clean up once), and most things won’t take extra time to cook when you have the oven on anyways.

Most important, I want you to know that you’re health and what your eating is important. The only person in the world that has control over that is you. If you want to do anything and do it well, you have to plan and prepare. Our food is part of that. Prioritize your health and your families. Take the extra time to plan and prepare. It is worth it.

I will be expanding on this topic forever, as I get better at it and learn more tips and tricks, and as we have life changes that alter how we do things I will share that. Because I think it’s important to share our struggles/success and how we all do it. Life is crazy and we’re all faking it til we make it. And I will always be honest with you. This blog is my outlet to share with you, and I don’t have every answer but I’m figuring it out and if I help even one of you then it’s all been worth it putting my life out in the universe.

For now, I think I’ve rambled far too long. But I just want to put those nuggets in your brain for you to think about. And we will chat more about it. I’ll have a new recipe this week: Apple Slaw. So stay tuned for that as well.

As always: feed yourself and your family home cooked meals because you’re worth it, and so are they.

Happy Cooking – Maria

 

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