Are women who prepare meals in advance healthier than those who don’t? I can speak from experience and say yes. When I don’t cook at the beginning of the week, I come home tired, exhausted and tend to eat whatever I can grab from the refrigerator, usually a sandwich and maybe a snack.
If there something salty nearby like chips, I may grab that too, along with some water. Next, I may drink a fruit smoothie that I purchased from the store that has a considerable amount of sugar to drink before bedtime. Fresh fruit would be better because there is not as much concentrated sugar in it.
However, I find that when I do essential food preparation at the beginning of the week, I tend to eat healthier throughout the week. So, to have a healthy lifestyle, I must plan. This way, I can portion out my meals for the rest of the week, pick them up and go.
You know the old saying, “Fail to plan, then plan to fail?” I think that applies in this situation. If this is an area that you are struggling with, I have some tips that may be helpful to you.
A Few Ideas
First of all, plan what you are going to eat for the week in advance. I have started doing meal prep on Sunday. Sometimes I cook a few meals and portion it out in containers to take to work for the week, or I prepare veggies for soups and stews by cutting them and then bagging and storing them until needed.
If I am going to steam them later in the week, I chop and put them in bags in the refrigerator. Then, when I am ready, I add sauce, seasonings, or whatever I need to dress it up and prepare the meal.
You can easily roast potatoes and veggies and save them until needed. Later, add them to stews or soups, wraps, or veggie bowls.
The Versatility of Beans
A large pot of beans can be used one day for chili, another day for burritos, added to rice or Quinoa, added to soups and salads. If you are creative, you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen trying to figure out what to make. The beans become the base for the week of other meals. I could go on and on with additional suggestions for this protein. Did I mention that you can make bean dip, bean spread, beans in sweets?
The quickest and easiest bean to make if you have time constraints is Lentils. They are full of protein and fiber and can be used as they are or with rice. I like them in Mexican soup, lentil and spinach soup, lentil tomato and spinach soup, or whatever combination you wish to use. Canned beans with low sodium are another option for quick meals. Curried Lentils are also quite tasty!
Breakfast,the Most Important Meal of the Day
For breakfast, I prepare 3 or 4 days’ worth of smoothies, pour them into cups, and freeze. In the morning, I take it out, let it start thawing, and it is ready to eat before I leave or when I get to work. My other option for smoothies is to freeze the fruit for individual smoothies in baggies and, in the morning, blend the fruit and go. This way, I have a variety for the week.
Another breakfast or dinner favorite is scrambled tofu with onion, garlic, peppers, and mushrooms if I have them and spinach or kale. It’s an excellent way to get extra veggies in my diet. I sometimes also add spinach or kale to my smoothies.
Rice cookers are perfect for brown rice, which has more nutrients than white rice. Brown rice is a healthier option. I prefer Basmati or jasmine rice because it is flavorful and has a pleasant aroma. It may be harder to find in some stores, depending on where you shop. Rice cookers allow you to put the ingredients in the device and come back when it’s ready.
A Few Secrets
One nutritious grain that I discovered a few years ago is Quinoa. This grain is not hard to cook. It comes packed with protein. I will write a full blog post about it in the future. It is so versatile, and you can cook it in a variety of ways. It is an excellent grain for meal prep.
I keep a bag of fresh Spinach and Kale at almost all times. At times, I use spinach in salads. When I eat sandwiches, I use spinach or kale instead of lettuce. They are also tasty in smoothies and scrambled tofu.
Don’tMake it Complicated.
Please keep it simple. I like the convenience, but I also want my food to be flavorful and healthy. Many think that to eat healthily, one has to sacrifice taste, but that is not true.
Spending long hours in the kitchen is not an option for me. On meal prep day, I do what is easy. You don’t have to make all your weekly meals upfront, but there needs to be enough preparation so you don’t feel like you are working a second job when you come home from work.
The Rewards of Preparation
If you take a little time each week for meal prep, you will find that some of your bad eating habits will change. You will be more conscious of what you are putting into your body and feel better about yourself for taking better care of your body. Try it out next week and leave a comment below on how things worked out.
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