Happy Meal Prep Monday Ravens! There’s nothing like knowing that once you get home from school, your dinner is ready to go. Meal prepping may sound intimidating, but it really just means that you prepared some of your meal in advance. And meal prepping can have very real results! Research shows that people who meal prep are more likely to consume balanced meals and eat more vegetables and fruit. Clearly, meal prepping can provide some very real results! We’re here to show you how you can benefit from meal prep too.

Tip #1: Have A Plan

First think of your meals that could most benefit from meal prepping. Perhaps it’s those pesky late-night dinners after a long day of class. Or maybe you’re hitting the snooze button one too many times to be able to prepare a balanced breakfast. Either way, we understand and we’re here to help! It may be tempting to start prepping every meal right off the bat, that can be tricky to start out. So, prioritize which meals during the week that you need the most help with. These are the ones that you should plan to meal prep.

The next step is to decide on which day you plan to do most of your meal prepping. Sundays are a popular day for good reason; we often have more free time on Sundays to spend a few hours prepping meals, and it’s at the start of the week so we can get some of the week’s meals out of the way. It can be helpful to add a secondary meal prep day later on the week such as Wednesday or Thursday. This way it keeps your meals fresher: you’re not preparing a meal on Sunday that you won’t actually eat until Friday. It can split up the work so you’re not doing all the prep on one day only.

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Tip #2: Write It Down

Once you have an idea of which meals during the week that you’d like to prep for, write it down on your calendar. If paper calendars aren’t your thing, there are a lot of great meal prep and calendar apps on the app store: try out a few and find which one works for you.

When thinking of what meals you want to prep, it’s helpful to remember the healthy plate model. In general, a balanced plate contains ¼ protein, ¼ grains and ½ vegetables and fruit. If you’re not sure which foods fall under the protein, grains and vegetables & fruits categories, check out the following link from East Carolina University: https://www.ecu.edu/cs-dhs/pedsweightcenter/upload/ECU-Healthy-Weight-Plate-with-Healthy-Choices.pdf.

Following this guide, you can come up with many different balanced meals for your schedule. Here are some ideas:

  • Oatmeal with fresh berries and Greek yogurt
  • Rotisserie chicken with potatoes and steamed green beans
  • Whole grain tortilla with sautéed peppers, onions, spinach and black beans
  • Red peppers stuffed with rice, corn and lean ground beef
  • Lentil and sweet potato curry served with a side of steamed broccoli

If you take a close look at all of the suggested meals, you’ll notice that they all follow the same basic formula: they contain a protein, a grain and a vegetable or fruit!

Tip #3: Shop Prepared

Now that you’ve decided on your meal prep meals, it’s time to hit the grocery store. As cliched as it sounds, it always helps to have a grocery list. How many times have you gone into the store just to buy eggs but end up leaving the store with a dozen other items? It happens to the best of us, but a grocery list can help you stay on track! Also aim to shop when you’re feeling full. When you’re shopping on an empty stomach, the less healthy foods like pastries and chips that definitely aren’t on your grocery list can start to look pretty tempting! If you prefer the old fashioned pen and paper grocery list, go for it! Another trick is to write your grocery store in the notes section of your cell phone.

At this point, we want to give a shout out to Yummly! Yummly is an app where you can input your dietary preferences and restrictions and it will show you personalized recipes that fit your requirements. It allows you to select the recipes that you want to make for the week, and will then populate a grocery list for you. Check it out!

By this point you’re on the way to becoming a meal prep master! We hate to leave you hanging here, but we’ve already supplied you with a lot of information to take in. Read over our first three tips and join us next week for part 2, where we’ll discuss putting it all together during the actual meal prep session with some easy and useful meal prep techniques!

  1. Meal planning is associated with food variety, diet quality and body weight status in a large sample of French adults (2017) https://ijbnpa.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12966-017-0461-7

Monday, October 15, 2018 in ,
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