Are you having trouble balancing your busy world and creating a healthy eating lifestyle that works for you? Interested in planning ahead but not quite sure how to meal prep like a pro? Want to create a killer meal planning routine? Kelli from Nutrition Not Restriction has you covered!
This inspiring health-esteemie beauty is a meal planning and prepping pro. So I asked her to share her wisdom with us.
How did she get started? Severe, acute pancreatitis kept her in intensive care for 6 weeks and nearly took her life. Afterwards, she became inspired to build a fulfilling, healthy lifestyle. Becoming a meal planning and prepping queen has helped her to achieve that. She’s living proof that you have the power to make incredible, health fostering changes. Here are some tips and tricks to get your started.
How to Meal Prep with Kelli
You wake up in the morning, jump in the shower and scramble out to your car. You’re going to be late for work…but you forgot to eat so you hit the closest drive-thru or gas station for breakfast. For lunch, you head to the local deli or drive thru to grab something fast and cheap so you can hurry back to the office.
At 5 o-clock, you jump in your car, relieved the long work day is finally over. You’re looking forward to heading home. You’re excited for things to wind down but all of a sudden that anxiety sets in. Your breath becomes a little heavier, your mind races, and your heart rate increases… you realize you have absolutely no idea what to make for dinner. You wonder if you have time to defrost meat. You worry your family will eat that same dinner for the umpteenth time this month. You’re not sure that you even have time to stop at the store. You decide you don’t and declare that the nearest delivery joint will have to do.
Sound like you?
This was every day of my life prior to June 2013.
The lack of preparation, the unnecessary anxiety, and the unhealthy eating habits were ingrained in my day-to-day life. It seemed like too much effort to meal plan, make grocery lists, and meal prep. What I failed to realize was that it takes WAY more effort to go to the grocery store every other day and stress about breakfasts, lunches and dinners. It’s near impossible to try to be healthy while consuming prepackaged and chemical-laden foods that are taxing on the mind and body. And I was spending unnecessary amounts of money on foods I could be cooking at home.
When people ask me for tips on how they can keep on track with healthy eating, the number one thing I tell them is to start meal planning, followed closely by learning how to meal prep.
Meal planning and prepping are two of the most effective ways to set yourself up for a successful and healthy week. When we don’t have a plan for our meals, we end up settling for the quickest and cheapest thing we can find, which, let’s be honest, most of the time isn’t really all that healthy for us.
How to Meal Plan
When you sit down to meal plan, first ask yourself what plans or activities you might have coming up in the next week. If you have a crazy week ahead, plan to look for a few crockpot recipes or make-ahead dishes that could be stored in your freezer for when you’re in a pinch.
Next, think about how many meals you are going to be planning for and start writing down or bookmarking some recipes. I find Pinterest to be a valuable resource and I love that I can visually browse my saved recipes. Think about what’s in season and what things may be on sale at the store in order to save money. Another tip is to double batch recipes when you can. And utilize your leftovers! Who doesn’t love to save time AND money?!
I will typically grab a pen and paper and on the left side of the page I will write out the days of the week and, next to it, the meals I plan to make. Underneath I will prepare a section for breakfasts, snacks, lunches and dinners. Seeing it all laid out makes me feel at ease, knowing that I’ll never be left wondering “What should I make for dinner tonight?!”
As you are writing down your meal plan, take note of all the ingredients and the quantities you will need. You have now started a grocery list to keep you from those random and unnecessary purchases. Going to the grocery store and trying to wing it is a sure-fire way to overspend and leads to excessive waste; we end up throwing away precious foods because we didn’t have a plan for utilizing them.
How to Meal Prep
After you’ve done your grocery shopping and brought all your goodies home, you can start meal prepping anything that will save you time throughout the week. Choose on a day or night to put some time aside to get your meal prep done. Take a look at your meal plan that you created for the week and pick 1 or 2 snacks and/or a meal that you could prep for the week ahead.
For example: I like to make a big batch of quinoa that I keep on hand for added protein for salads, sides, lunches, or dinners. I might also make some chia pudding or cook a batch of hard boiled eggs for a nutrient packed snack. Breakfast muffins are great for breaky when you’re on the go. And having options like a batch of pre-cooked chicken breasts or sweet potatoes to use as a main course or even in a salad are fabulous time savers.
Speaking of salads, Mason jar salads are a fabulous meal prep option! Having pre-washed fruits and veggies are also great for snacking and/or meals. Once you get comfortable and find your groove, you can start adding to your meal prep repertoire!
Do something your future self will thank you for. One of the most important things to remember while you learn how to meal prep: have fun with it! While you’re prepping, throw on some music, get your family involved, and enjoy the process. Pick foods that you love and that will love you back.
Once you have practiced meal planning and prepping a couple of times, it will start to feel more natural. You’ll wonder why it took you so long to start. And your health and sanity will thank you!
Learn more about Kelli through her Health-Esteem Queen interview here. Bonus, you’ll get your hands on her delicious recipe for Overnight Crockpot Cacao Steel Cut Oats with walnuts and berries. Yum!
Get your hands on more goodness from Kelli too at her marvelous website. She shares tons of delicious recipes and meal prep inspiration that I know you’ll adore.
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