How To Meal Prep Like It's Your Job
This is it. The last home stretch of 2016. The holiday season is in full swing. Family and friends and parties and cookies and cocktail attire and so much nog. It's all fine. WE'RE GOING TO BE FINE!
According to everyone, the holidays are about indulging in AMSAP (as many sweets as possible) and completely letting go of all control. Is everyone right? Yes and no. It's okay to find balance in holiday goodies while still maintaining a solid, nutritional foundation. A treat is only a treat if you rarely have it, after all. Once you eat it in abundance, it becomes as common as, dare I say, broccoli. Think about that one for a second...
So yes, it's that time to get a little crazy with the office cookie swap. With the right framework, it can be more cookie swap, less cookie avalanche. But how?
This is where meal prepping comes in! It might seem counterintuitive, but now, more than ever, is the perfect time to get your meal prep in check. What may seem like another daunting weekend chore can, if you really let it, be kind of fun. At least it's a money saver. And it takes the stress out of wondering what you'll be eating every day. Save that mystery for more important things like complicated relationships and crock pots (how does it make a perfect meal EVERY TIME?!).
So what are some tips for executing the perfect meal prep? How does one meal prep like it's your job? Here we go...
Keep it simple
Meal prepping should be the most stress-free chore of your weekend. Pick a day, go grocery shopping at your favorite spot, and get to it. Unless you love crafting new recipes or making elaborate meals, you don't need to impress anyone with your creations. Buy the pre-chopped broccoli, brussel sprouts, onion, asparagus, etc. from Trader Joe's, put that ish in a pan, and cook it up. Throw some chicken in a crock pot, pour salsa over it, and you're in business. It doesn't have to be fancy. But it DOES have to be something you want to eat. If you're spending the time and money to put that ish in a pan, make it at least delish enough to want to eat it.
Also, a note about eating the same thing every day. I am one of those people who, when I find something that works, can eat the same thing all the time. There are pros and cons to this. Yes, it makes meal prepping really easy. But it can also limit your intake of the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function. It makes sense. If you're only eating carrots every day, you're missing out on a lot of other nutrients needed to live (though your eyesight will probably be on point). So, try to vary up your dishes throughout the week. (This hot tip came courtesy of the Whole Life Challenge Blog.)
How many times have you gone to the market hungry and left with a bag of almonds, a chocolate bar, and radishes? Every. single. time.
This is mandatory before starting your meal prepping journey: MAKE A LIST. Write down every single food item you need for your meals, from garlic powder to salsa to blueberries. It helps you avoid buying the most random stuff and stay within some sort of budget.
Planning ahead also includes perusing the internet looking for ideas. There are two ways to do this. When I was getting my masters degree in digital publishing, we talked about the experience of "lean in" vs "lean back". The "lean back" experience includes going to your favorite Paleo blogs (*cough cough Paleoish Perez cough cough*) and scrolling through the myriad of options to spark inspiration. "Leaning in" is about having a recipe in mind (i.e. chicken pesto with zucchini noodles) and scouring Pinterest looking for the recipe. Either way you operate is fine! As long as you have some idea of some recipe in mind before you head out to the store.
Put your wallet in the fridge
This hot tip is from ICE NYC Crossfit coach and all around genius, Joe Judge. If you're having trouble actually remembering to pack the delish and brilliant meals you've so lovingly made, just put your wallet in the fridge. You won't forget your food if your Metro card stuck to it. As an elegant mind once said, "For where your wallet is, there your food will be also."
To zoom out on the bigger picture here, try eliminating the barriers that limit you from successfully preparing your meals. You might not have a hard time remembering your lunch, but you might be struggling to find time, or you might be at a loss for what to make. Explore the reasons WHY you're having trouble, and chances are, you'll be able to find a solution. And if all else fails, put your wallet in the fridge, just to keep things interesting.