Getting ready for the start of a new week by shopping and preparing meals ahead of time is one of the most underutilized tools in our weight management and healthy lifestyle arsenal. Raise your hand if you have been too exhausted over the weekend to get prepared for the coming week and then you find yourself at work all week with nothing to do but grab a quick lunch out somewhere. The most common excuse I hear is, “I just don’t have time to work on preparing for meals over the weekend.” My friends, while I empathize greatly with that claim, you don’t have time NOT to get prepared.
Start by having a notebook that is designated solely for weekly meal preparation. When I first began this process I took the time to make a list in the front of my notebook of all our favorite meals, favorite lunch items, favorite snacks, and favorite things to eat for breakfast. I occasionally get “meal preppers block” where I seem to lose the creative ability to remember what sort of things our family likes to eat. Having that list of favorites in the front of my notebook has been helpful!
So you have a notebook and you’ve made the time to note all your favorites. Now what? Get busy planning out your first week of meals, that’s what! Write out each day of the week and simply fill in what meals you want to have for that day. Keep in mind, you can always trade days throughout the week if you get to a particular day and find you don’t want the meal you planned for that day. I often add in an extra meal for the week as a “spare” for this very reason. Be sure to plan out snacks as well and make sure you have those on hand, especially for the kiddos.
Time to make a grocery list based on the meals you have planned for! Be sure to check your kitchen for items already on hand so you don’t end up with too much of a particular ingredient. You will find that all this preparation ahead of time will not just benefit your calorie budget it will also benefit your financial budget. You will be less likely to dine away from home during the week and you will be amazed to find that suddenly you have a little more change in your pocketbook. Eating at restaurants and cafeterias really adds up!
Once back home with my grocery store finds, I spend time chopping up vegetables that I will need for either work or dinner the coming week. I separate these items into portion sizes if needed. It saves money to buy vegetables whole and chop them yourself. However, it saves time to buy them already chopped. If you find you would rather save that precious time then search your produce area for vegetables that have already been chopped and packaged or buy them frozen. You can also find garlic already minced.
I am lucky enough to have an office with enough space for a small refrigerator. So I bring all my food items to work with me Monday morning and store them in my refrigerator. However, at my previous job I typically just packed my lunch each day and brought it in a thermal bag.
At least twice per month my husband will decide to grill dinner for us. At my behest he always marinades and grills extra chicken breast so that I have it on hand for lunches and meals during the week. Typically I have salad for lunch each day and I really enjoy those days when I have grilled chicken to toss atop my salad. It is also nice to have grilled chicken on hand if I need to throw together a meal quickly during the week, such as quesadillas.
Remember to keep it simple. There is no need to attempt to create culinary masterpieces during the week. What busy family has time for that? The simpler it is the more likely you will stick to preparing it. If you sit down all ready to prepare for the next week and find you have no ideas or are tired of the same old thing, check Pinterest or Instagram for a little inspiration. Meal prepping is currently a hot topic and there are tons of great ideas out there. If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of prepping for an entire week, start off slow. In fact, when changing a routine you are more likely to find long term success if you start making changes slowly. You don’t have to start off prepping for the week. You can start off and prep for three evening meals. Or start off prepping for lunches only and add dinners when you feel more comfortable with the routine. You’re in charge so arrange what works best for YOUR schedule!
Feel free to come back and comment to let me know how it works out for you!
Now let’s get crack-a-lackin! Happy prepping, my friends!