Have you ever heard the words “meal prep” only to imagine tupperwares full of plain chicken, rice, and green beans? 🙋♀️
Maybe you genuinely want to eat healthier and plan ahead, but you find yourself overwhelmed by the process, and well, you don’t have six hours to prep food every Sunday. (Who does?)
I’ve been there, friend.
As someone who has a pretty busy schedule, but still wants to be intentional about feeding my body with nourishing foods that will support my health, I’ve definitely struggled to plan healthy meals in a way that will work with my schedule.
Now I don’t know about you, but the thought of tupperwares full of the same boring meals doesn’t really appeal to me.
And I also like my weekends to be open to relax, read, and spend time with family and friends. (Translation: I don’t want to be spending hours in the kitchen every Sunday to try to prep everything ahead of time).
So, what’s a girl to do?
Well, after trying to make the whole healthy eating thing work for my schedule over the last year, I think I’ve finally started to nail down a routine that works for me – and that’s exactly what I’m sharing with you in this episode. (Yay!)
Nutrients to Include In Every Meal
First off, a lot of you know that I really love the book Woman Code. It’s a great read to start understanding how your hormones work and how to eat in a way that supports them.
One of the big lessons I learned from that book, and from my dietician, is to always start your meal planning by focusing on the three key nutrients you should include in every meal.
For each meal, you wanna include these three things: protein, healthy fat, and fiber.
Most people are familiar with protein. You get it from things like organic chicken, wild-caught salmon, or free-range eggs.
The second nutrient, healthy fats, can be found in foods like avocados and unsweetened coconut flakes. It’s also found in healthy oils like olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and MCT oil.
A quick note here: not all oils are healthy fats. Oils that are often found in processed foods, like canola oil, vegetable oil, and sunflower oil are not sources of healthy fats and should be avoided.
The third nutrient, fiber, is found in your fruits and veggies. Some of my faves include mixed greens, bok choy, carrots, broccoli, and beets. I also love mixed berries and oranges.
What I like to do is take a little time to think through each meal I’m going to make for the week and make sure it has protein, healthy fat, and fiber.
Of course, this can be a big shift for a lot of people. So be grace-based about it. Don’t try to overhaul your life in one day. Take small steps and slowly work towards having these nutrients in your meals.
PLANNING HEALTHY MEALS: BREAKFAST
When it comes to planning ahead, breakfasts are probably the simplest. I like to choose a couple of different breakfast options that I alternate between throughout the week.
For example, I’ll plan on having eggs and avocado with mixed greens like arugula. And then the next day I’ll have a clean protein shake that has protein powder, almond milk, a banana, ice, water, and a little MCT oil for healthy fat.
Then I keep alternating between those during the week. This way, I don’t waste time trying to figure out what to eat each morning.
And I also get a little variety and switch between something a little sweeter (my shake) and something more savory (eggs and greens).
PLANNING HEALTHY MEALS: LUNCH AND SNACKS
For lunches, I like to batch medleys.
So each week as I’m putting together my grocery list for the upcoming week, I include a bunch of my favorite or staple veggies that I can throw together to make a bid medley.
For me, I love getting some of my favorites: bok choy, red onion, beets, carrots, celery, fennel, cucumber, apple or pear slices, mixed greens, and avocado.
On the weekend, I’ll take about 20 minutes to chop up those veggies and throw them into a big bag or container so they’re ready for the week.
And if I have some extra time, I’ll pre-cook a wild-caught salmon or fatty fish like halibut so it’s ready for my lunches.
I’ll also make a super simple dressing (olive oil and lemon juice) to have on hand for lunches.
So when the time comes for my lunch each day, all I need to do is grab some veggies from the medley I made, pair it with my protein, and then add some healthy fats (like a cut-up avocado or the olive oil dressing I make).
I like approaching it this way because it’s nutritious and it’s ready for the week, but doesn’t require me to spend hours prepping. I can also change up the protein I choose or the veggies I include to give it some variety.
When planning my groceries, I also make sure I have some good snacks on hand. Some of my favorites are almond butter and banana or celery, freeze-dried beets, unsalted almonds, and veggies and hummus.
I don’t portion those out ahead of time, although it may be helpful to do that each morning if you need to for your workday.
PLANNING HEALTHY MEALS: DINNER
For dinners, I like to find new recipes from Pinterest that I save to a secret board and switch between each week.
I still try to make sure each dinner has protein, healthy fats, and fibers.
I usually plan about 4-5 dinners each week. I like to keep things flexible in case a friend asks us to go out for dinner, or we’re running late one night and need to pick something up.
Ultimately, I’ve been aiming to keep things as simple as I can. I think it’s important to be realistic about your capacity and keep things simple for yourself, so you’re not stressed out trying to cook difficult meals every day.
LEARN MORE WAYS TO PLAN HEALTHY MEALS FOR THE WEEK
If you’re ready to start planning simple nutritious meals for yourself, go ahead and give this method a try for a week or two.
But remember to start small. If you’re really used to eating out or picking out food, then maybe start by planning just two meals each week.
Keep it manageable for your lifestyle so you’re not stressed about overhauling your life. Then, if it feels good after a month, add in another meal.
If you try to go all-in at once, you can easily get discouraged or frustrated and end up quitting. So start small and work your way up in a way that fits your unique schedule and needs.
In other words, be grace-based. And be human.
Wanna learn more? Go ahead, grab a snack, and tune in to learn:
- The three nutrients you should include in every meal
- Easy ways to plan your meals ahead
- Ways you can batch lunches without spending hours prepping
- How to eat nutritious meals in a way that fits your lifestyle
And if you want to dive into more ways to make meal planning really simple, check out the free Own Your Everyday mini-course, which teaches you how to develop weekly rhythms, time block your week to be more productive, and meal prep healthy meals using a quick and simple system.