You want to eat healthy. You really do. But life gets so busy that it pushes your good intentions out the window. You bought a ton of fresh produce that is now sitting in your fridge going bad because you forgot about the late night work meeting, kid's soccer game, and the friend you promised you would help after work one night this week. Suddenly drive through's and take-out replace your good intentions and the healthy food in your fridge because you can't do it all.
So what is the key to finding balance in maintaining healthy food choices but also in finishing everything else you need to accomplish in your day? The answer is preparation. I'm going to share how meal planning has seamlessly become a part of my life and how it has saved me money and time along the way.
Meal planning, for me, starts before hitting up the grocery store. I make a quick list that looks something like this:
Monday: work late (leftovers)
Tuesday: home early to make dinner
Wednesday: work late (leftovers)
Thursday: church small group (bring side dish)
Friday: home early to make dinner
This is just a general outline that gives me a quick idea of which nights that week I will be able to make dinner and which nights I won't. Then, on nights I can't make dinner, I can either choose to make enough the day before for leftovers or plan a crockpot meal to start in the morning. It also helps me gauge an appropriate meal plan and shopping list so I don't overbuy. Food waste is a very real contributor to our landfills and to money that is just thrown away. If anything else, I highly encourage you to plan out meals and make grocery lists.
Then once my dinners are planned, I pick out 2 breakfast options and 2 lunch options for the week.
Once my lists are made, I head to the grocery store. When I come back from the store, I dedicate about 2 hours to meal prep and set me up strong for the week. I PROMISE this 2 hours is worth it. You can even watch Netflix while you do it.
Simple things I personally always prep are veggies, fruit, lunches, and sauces.
This week, I prepped berries and grapes for my fruit. I always soak my fruit in apple cider vinegar water to clean and preserve them. Then I store them in glass containers. I do the same with my cherry tomatoes.
For veggies, I peeled and cut up carrots, bell peppers, celery, and cucumber.
I also made a hummus for a dipping sauce and some homemade almond milk for smoothies in the morning.
I made some falafel to go with my lunches. These are awesome because you can make an extra big batch and freeze the dough in balls that can later be baked for a super-quick meal idea.
Then, once all my produce is prepped, I can make quick meals like this throughout the week. All I have to do is portion out how much I want for the next day.
The lunch shown below has a small salad with spinach, parsley, cucumbers, and tomatoes with falafel balls and fruit on the side. All I have to do is assemble and eat at lunch. I often make energy balls as well to have with a piece of fruit for a quick and easy snack.
Meal prepping can look so different week-to-week. But all of my basics are the same. Prep the base of all my meals (fruits and veggies), have some easy snacks prepared, and have your meals planned out. It takes all the guessing out of it and you've already prepared for late nights or crazy days.
I hope this helps you! It has revolutionized our family's ability to eat healthy on a budget and to make healthy food a go-to option for us.