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 and exhausted and tend to eat whatever I can grab from the refrigerator, usually a sandwich and maybe a snack.
If something salty is nearby, like chips, I may grab that, along with some water. Next, I may drink a fruit smoothie I purchased from the store with a considerable amount of sugar before bedtime. Fresh fruit would be better because there is not as much concentrated sugar.
However, when I prepare essential food at the beginning of the week, I tend to eat healthier. 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, plan what you will eat for the week in advance. I started doing meal prep on Sunday. Sometimes I cook a few meals and portion them 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 steam them later in the week, I chop them 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
Try using a large pot of beans one day for chili, another day for burritos, added to rice or Quinoa, or 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, and beans in sweets?
Lentils are the quickest and easiest legume to make if you have time constraints. 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
I prepare 3 or 4 days’ worth of smoothies for breakfast, pour them into cups, and freeze them. I take it out in the morning, 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, with more nutrients than white rice. Brown rice is a healthier option. I prefer Basmati or jasmine rice because of its flavorful and pleasant aroma. Depending on where you shop, it may be harder to find in some stores. Rice cookers allow you to put the ingredients in the device and return 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 whole blog post about it in the future. It is so versatile, and you can cook it in various 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 one has to sacrifice taste to eat healthily, 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 working a second job when you come home.
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 better care of your body. Try it out next week and comment below on how things worked out.
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