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The ultimate guide to your EASY 2019 food and meal prep! This is a great overview of basic meal prep, weeknight meal ideas, benefits, tips, and a sample of what a week looks like. I am also including FREE weekly meal planner worksheet just for you!
Anyone else completely fail their first week of 2019? I had the best intentions, but 99% of everything I had planned and swimming around in my head never quite panned out. I could be upset by it or bothered or even throw in the towel already, but that wasn’t going to happen friends! If I have learned anything in the past few years its to go easy on myself. Instead of beating myself up about anything I’ve done (or not done in this case), I choose to simply move on. Or in this case with 2019, it’s to actually just GET STARTED! Fortunately, “TODAY” is always a chance to take get right in there with whatever you want to accomplish!
So here we are again friends. I’m back (finally) and I could not be more excited, motivated, or thrilled with the agenda and plans I have for this year. After a very long hiatus from anything having to do with posting to the blog or any social media, I am now in a great place with my life both physically and mentally. The blog now has a new fresh look that I love, I’m organized, and most importantly… my heart is in it. This girl is back to being fully invested to sharing my passion with food, using food to nourish the body from the inside out, and giving you all of the tools that are helping me to live my BEST self ever.
My nutritional beliefs have changed dramatically over the last handful of years, but I am now so deeply rooted in real nutrition, nutrition for the long haul. The food you can count on from now on will solely be paleo & keto based. This means mainly low to lowish carb dishes, REAL & whole foods, limited to no dairy, ingredients that serve a healthful purpose, and a HUGE focus on using food that nourish the body so that it runs optimally. Coming from someone who was bed bound for 6 months due to medical conditions and turning it all around, I know first hand how the power of foods can make the biggest difference in someones life.
This week I am kicking the new year off with one of my most popular topics… FOOD & MEAL PREP! Regardless of my past nutritional paths, this has always remained a constant for me. I believe so heartedly in planning and organizing meals and food options each week for a ton of reasons. Here is a brief little list for you.
When everything is laid out for the week you are not playing the “What am I going to eat?” guessing game 95% of the time. You and your family are able to get a handle on nutrients and foods you might be lacking in your diet. You will also be far less likely to make less than desirable choices when it comes to food. Regardless of the way of eating you choose (vegan, keto, paleo, vegetarian, etc.), being able to see the majority of meals and food you have available each week will help guide you in the right nutritional direction.
One of the biggest issues people have with their meals is portion size. If the ultimate goal is weight loss, people need to understand how much (and how little) they are eating. While there are many factors that go into losing weight (hormones, sleep quality, stress, etc.), calories still matter. I don’t personally track any of my food, but having a basic grasp of portion size will teach you how to balance your meals and food. The rule of thumb for each of my meals is:
protein (usually a palm sized amount)
greens (1-2 cups)
vegetables (1-2 cups)
variety of healthy dietary fat (1/2-1 tablespoon)
Simple and very easy to control portions without having to count calories or track food.
Perhaps the main reason why I feel so passionately about meal and food prep is the countless hours I save on a weekly and monthly basis. Something as simple as knowing what my family will be eating for dinner each night of the week saves us from HOURS of:
A.) figuring out what we are going to eat
B.) running to the store to grab ingredients on a whim PLUS the extra time finding the right recipe PLUS the extra time it will take to actually cook something
C.) the time it takes to get to/from a restaurant or to grab take out.
Our precious time is spent doing what matters most… simply being together (NOT worrying about food).
I cannot express the amount of money our family saves each week simply by knowing the meals we are having for the week. We don’t really do fast food around here, so our family of three (one away in college) spends anywhere from $40-$75 EVERY single time we eat out. Gone are the days of hundreds of dollars wasted each week because we didn’t have our meals planned out ahead of time. In our home, we really only plan for dinners each week, but you can imagine how much more expensive it would be if you are adding in some breakfasts AND lunches! If you do one thing each week, PLAN YOUR DINNERS!!!
Another huge benefit for our family is the amount of stress and bother surrounding meals. We know ahead of time what dinner will look like (and many lunches thanks to leftovers). No more scrambling to figure out our food situation. Like saving time, reducing stress leaves our family feeling at ease when dinner time rolls around so we can focus on what matters most… simply being together.
If weight loss is the goal for you, NOTHING trumps nutrition. You cannot outwork or out train a bad diet. Having food ready to go will prevent a ton of extra snacking and prevent food choices that don’t serve your end goal OR your body.
All that being said, I can’t think of ANYONE that should not be spending a bit of time on food and meal prep. The benefits will always win,, always. Now let’s move on to the basic structure I follow when it comes to my meal prep approach.
Top Meal Prep Tips:
- Keep it Simple- Absolutely NO need to go crazy with elaborate meals and food. Stick to the basics especially if you are new to this. In time you will become so much more efficient and can add a ton more variety each week.
- Write everything down- list of recipes you want to use and foods to you need to prep, take note of your current pantry/fridge/freezer stock list, write your shopping list
- Keep a schedule- Take the guessing game out of when/how am I going to do this. Set yourself up on a tentative meal planning/prep schedule. For example:
friday= clean kitchen (increased productivity x10)
friday night= planning (5-10 minutes)
saturday=shopping & cleaning produce if needed (1 hour)
sunday=prepping (1 hour)
- Use a Basic Outline- Each week know what you need and what things work best for your family and preferences. I always have fresh cut veggies, prepped & washed greens, washed/chopped fruit, 1-2 cooked starches, 1-2 cooked proteins, 1-2 cooked veggies, a breakfast, and a dessert. This combination allows us to have quick snacks and simple meals ready at anytime.
- Do not cook everything- Instead of spending your entire Sunday prepping ALL of the meals, simply get everything prepared for your week ahead. Marinate meats, store in the fridge, put meal ingredients in large separate zip lock bags or containers. When dinners are mainly put together AND in one place all you have to do is grab it from the fridge (or freezer) and cook it off.
- Use the right containers – We all have our own reasons why to meal and food prep. It makes sense that the containers and storage you use reflect that. They are very convenient and teach portion size though, so might be a good thing to invest in if you work away from home.
Here is my weekly routine:
Step 1: Food and Meal List
- Gather ideas for things to prep (Pinterest, cook books, etc.) and PRINT them out
- Write down dinner menus for the week. Mix quick and easy meal ideas with more difficult ones)
- Look at your schedule for the week and place dishes accordingly. Save Instant Pot/crock pot, sheet pan, and quick dinners for days/nights you are the busiest.
Instead of using a planner or day runner, I actually do all of my planning on my iPad. I have a tentative monthly overview of meals and then have a separate weekly page planner where I put in our dinners as well.
Step 2: Shopping List
- write down everything you need to buy for the week
- check pantry, fridge, and freezer
- separate lists by stores (costco, trader joes, grocery store, farmers market, speciality items)
Step 3: Shop
- pick a day to buy everything you need for the week
Step 4: Prep
- wash/dry produce if needed. Utilize prepackaged greens, veggies, and fruit! Sometimes the extra cost offsets the laziness, at least it does in my case. There are SO many bagged options available these days. I love Trader Joe’s personally.
- separate ingredients for dinner meals and put them into zip lock bags
- prep 1-2 proteins for the week (instant pot hard boiled eggs, taco meat)
- chop veggies and put them in containers while proteins are cooking
- store everything in the fridge
This is what I prepped for this last week:
- hard boiled eggs
- taco meat
- a salad dressing
- riced cauliflower
- a few veggies
- spiraled zucchini
- flourless fudge cookies
Also, with my husband on a different schedule I also made and portioned up some breakfast for him to take to work. Before I started any of the food prep for the week, I got a breakfast casserole in the oven. This way it would be done by the time I was done with everything else.
Once it cooled I put it into glass meal prep containers over some greens, added some homemade spiced macadamia nuts, and a mandarin orange.
Now are YOU ready to get started?
I’m here to help you every step of the way if you need it! To get you going in 2019 I whipped up a FREE downloadable weekly meal planner worksheet & grocery list!!! My suggestion is to grab an inexpensive binder with divider for each month. Print this worksheet out each week OR for the entire month and add the recipes for each dinner to them. This binder will become your new best friend!!!
Just click on the image below to grab the PDF 🙂