The idea of meal prepping seems daunting and time consuming, right? Wrong! What if I told you meal prepping can actually save you time, money, and keep you on track with your nutrition goals each week?
Saving Time and Money:
- By meal prepping, you can save money by avoiding eating out for dinner when you’re feeling too tired or lack the time to cook a meal at night. Even a $7 McDonald’s trip and other drive-thrus will add up. With your meals already cooked, it is easier to go home and eat without the time-consuming process of cooking.
- You’ll be buying ingredients for fewer meals throughout the week instead of having something different each day of the week. By focusing on similar meal types each week, you can mix and match side combos to make each meal feel different while still only buying similar ingredients.
- Another bright side to meal prepping, you won’t have as much of a risk of your produce and leftovers going bad. The less you throw away at the end of the week, the less money you’re throwing away.
- By meal prepping at the start of the week, you’ll only have major dish duty once a week instead of every day. Thus, you’ll run your dishwasher less frequently, saving money by reducing your water bill as well as making a small positive impact on the environment.
Keeping Track of Nutrition Goals:
- By meal prepping, you take away or limit the temptation for impromptu desserts, going out to eat at work or after work, or adding anything to your diet that will negatively impact your nutrition and weight loss goals.
- Meal prepping makes it easier to monitor your food intake as well as the macronutrients you ingest in each meal. By creating recipes in MyFitnessPal, you can easily track these numbers. If you need help creating recipes, ask a UFit team member!
Tips for Starting:
- Start small! Just like starting any new regimen start small. Start by planning one meal each day and build yourself up to two or three.
- Always make a list when going to the store. Plan your meals ahead of time and add anything you don’t have already to the list. When you go to the store, make sure you abide by that list and not let the temptation of additional sweet treats tempt you!
- Buy in generic and in bulk. Generic brands are often cheaper than branded items. If you have enough storage, consider buying items that don’t expire quickly in bulk.
Here are a few of my favorite prep ahead meals to help you get started! Happy Meal-Prepping!
Breakfast: Cinnamon Apple Overnight Oats
Ingredients for 1 serving:
½ cup old-fashioned oats
½ cup milk (I prefer Oat milk)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs honey
½ apple, diced
- Add oats, milk, honey, and cinnamon to your container of choice and stir to combine.
- Top with diced apple
- Refrigerate overnight
Lunch: Chicken Burrito Bowls
Nutrition Break Down:
Ingredients for 4 servings:
4 small-medium chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning
1 cup rice of choice (my go to is basmati)
2 tbs cilantro
2 bell peppers, sliced into strips
2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
½ cup black beans
For the Chicken: In a large bag or bowl, combine the chicken and taco seasoning along with 1 tablespoon oil. Heat a large pan to medium-high heat. Cook chicken breasts for 5-7 minutes per side or until fully cooked. Remove from pan and rest for 10 minutes then chop into bite-size pieces.
In the same pan, add a teaspoon of oil along with sliced bell peppers and onion. Sauté for 3-4 minutes or until the veggies are tender.
For the Rice: While the chicken is cooking, boil 2 cups water in a large pot over high heat. Once the water has boiled, add the rice. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and reduce the heat to low and cook until the rice is tender, and all the water is absorbed. Add in the cilantro and fluff rice with a fork.
To assemble: Divide the rice, chicken, bell peppers, and beans into 4 meal-prep bowls. Add romaine lettuce and any other toppings (guacamole, salsa, sour cream) after re-heating.
Dinner: Cajun Sausage and Cauliflower Rice
Ingredients for 4 servings:
1 container Smoked turkey sausage, cut
2 cups spinach
2 Bell Peppers, diced
2 bags of cauliflower rice
Cajun seasoning to taste
- Sauté sausage in pan. Once heated, add diced peppers and Cajun seasoning.
- Add spinach to pan until it wilts.
- Steam cauliflower rice in the microwave
- mix everything together and add more Cajun seasoning for extra spice (I typically measure with my heart on this one)