If eating healthy was easy, everyone would be doing it!
Trust me when I say I understand all the common excuses: "I have no time", "My schedule is too busy", "It's easier to just grab something while out" - I've used them all. But when it comes down to it, meals prepped in my own kitchen have always been the better option for me personally.
I know firsthand that making the healthier choice is not always the easier choice. This post is not meant to encourage anyone to give up anything. I'm not going to preach how you need to stop eating carbs or how you need to give up putting sugar in your morning coffee. Instead, I hope to inspire and motivate all my readers with some fresh ideas that are not only healthy, but can also save you some time.
Below, I dive into my weekly meal routine from how I shop at the grocery store to my go-to meals and snacks that are quick to make with simple ingredients.
Some live by lists, some don't, so I think the most important tip I can give is to go in with a plan AND never go hungry. Have an idea of what you may want to create that week and allow the seasonal selections to further inspire you.
Produce: I try to buy a rainbow of colors when shopping in the produce section. Red for apples, Blue for blueberries, Yellow for squash, Green for kale, Orange for sweet potatoes, Purple for cabbage, and so on. The rule is that I need to have multiple colors of both fruits and vegetables. I highly recommend buying what's in season as well. The seasonal produce is always featured when you walk in and it never hurts to try something new!
Meats: I make a LOT of chicken on a weekly basis. It goes into everything I consume from salads, pasta dishes, protein bowls, wraps, etc. That said, I focus the bulk of my meat purchase in chicken. A quick rule of thumb is to multiply the average serving size (4 ounces) by the number of meals and people you need to prep for. In addition to chicken, I personally love to pick up at least 2 servings of fresh salmon and lean ground beef on occasion.
Dairy: Things like almond milk, half & half, cheese, and yogurt are staples in my fridge, however the highest consumed dairy item is eggs. I buy them in bulk and make them all week long. My fiance, Andrew, enjoys making a huge batch of hard boiled eggs for pre-workout snacks and I love to make scrambled eggs for my morning protein source.
Frozen: I always make sure to maintain a stock of frozen veggies in our freezer for the days that I run out of fresh produce, so I pick up those when we’re running low. Additionally I like to buy frozen Kodiak protein waffles and cinnamon raisin Ezekiel bread for quick breakfasts.
Have you noticed that up until this point I've yet to walk down an aisle? That's because packaged food mostly means processed food. I try to steer clear of the aisles unless there is an ingredient needed and I highly encourage you to make that a goal as well. For the most part the only packaged foods I buy are coffee, granola, nuts, coconut sugar, peanut butter, brown rice, dressing, oils, seasonings, pasta, Ezekiel bread and some occasional snacks...more on those later!
Now that I have all my essentials purchased, packed and en route to their final destination, I make sure to jump right into the prepping process, otherwise it just won't happen for me. This means lots of slicing, dicing, chopping, and cooking!
Into the oven goes all the chicken lightly seasoned. Then I cut up all my veggies and store into Tupperware containers for future use. I portion out my weekly snacks into small bowls or plastic bags. I use a super convenient egg cooker to make hard boiled eggs for the week. Lastly, I will prep any dinner ingredients or meals that can be made ahead of time.
The first few times prepping may seem overwhelming, but getting into a consistent rhythm can save you hours of cooking during the week.
Breakfast didn't earn the phrase "the most important meal of the day" for nothing. I'll be the first one to admit that I used to never eat breakfast. In fact it wasn't until I met Andrew that I started. In college he would make a full breakfast complete with eggs, turkey bacon, and toast every single morning. It amazed me at the time, but seeing him take a few minutes to make something each day eventually rubbed off on me. Now I can't imagine starting my day any other way! Below are my favorite breakfast options that are quick and simple to make all while being wholesome enough to keep you full until lunch time!
My Go-To Breakfast Meals:
1 Cup Instant Oatmeal Topped with 1 tbsp Peanut Butter, Almonds, Fresh Berries
2 Scrambled Eggs with Half an Avocado
2 Slices Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel Bread with 1 tbsp Almond or Peanut Butter
I have always been a "pack my lunch" kinda girl. While working remotely from home does give me access to a full kitchen, I find that I still eat my lunch as if I brought it to work. I have a personal goal to eat at least one salad a day, many times at lunch. If not that, I also enjoy making wraps, sometimes heating up soup, or even enjoying leftovers from last night's dinner. Below are my current lunch favorites, all of which include a healthy serving of protein.
My Go-To Lunch Meals:
Fruit & Nut Salad with Spinach, Chicken, Goat Cheese, Vinaigrette
Turkey & Cheddar Wrap with Honey Dijon + Side of Veggies with Ranch Dip
Kale Salad with Chicken, Shredded Cheese and Light Caesar Dressing
During the week, Andrew and I have much different work schedules which also means eating dinner at different times. Cooking for one person can be a challenge, but I've learned some quick and easy meals that can be prepped without all the waste. Below are some of my favorite healthy dinners to throw in the oven or quickly cook on the stove.
My Go-To Dinner Meals:
Baked Lemon-Pepper Salmon with Roasted Veggies
Zucchini Noodles with Tomato Sauce & Turkey Meatballs
Chicken and Veggie Quinoa Bowl with Thai Peanut Sauce
I love snacks...almost too much at times. It's can be really tempting to grab a bag of chips or candy which is why I try my best to set myself up for success on my meal prepping day. You can use small bowls, containers or plastic bags to portion out your snacks. When those cravings come popping up, you will be much more inclined to grab what's already prepped and ready-to-eat.
My Go-To Snacks:
Apple Slices with Peanut Butter (I eat an apple almost every day!)
Carrots, Celery, and Cucumbers with Ranch Dip
Sliced Cheese with Almonds & Grapes
If I'm hungry before a workout...
A majority of my workouts take place right after I end my work day between lunch and dinner, which tends to result in a late afternoon snack craving. To fuel up without feeling bloated or sluggish I look for filling, fast-digesting foods that will provide me with enough sustenance to get through my workout. While many options exist, below are some of my favorite pre-workout snacks.
My Go-To Pre-workout Snacks:
Low-fat Greek Yogurt with Granola
2 Hard Boiled Eggs
Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter
If I'm looking for something sweet...
After 8.5 years spent working in a family-owned chocolate store, it's safe to say I have a permanent sweet tooth. While I am no longer consuming chocolate every day (still sad about that), I do enjoy a sweet treat every once in a while at home. Below are some of my favorite sweet snacks that don't completely derail my goals.
I hope that you enjoyed this post and can walk away with some fresh meal ideas and healthy inspiration. If you are interested in what vitamins, supplements, and protein I use daily, stay tuned for a future blog post coming soon!