One of the easiest ways to feel like you're back in control after a long summer is to hop back into routine. My favourite is by getting back on track with meal plans!
During the hot summer months, it's easy to swap meal prep with weekend camping or an all-day BBQ. So when the weather cools and we get back into our cozy weekend routine, we may have forgotten what it's like to prepare a whole week's worth of meals (which we were experts at before).
How much did I spend?
Do I really need this many potatoes?
Can I use this whole head of cabbage?
To make sure you're a meal-prep master, we've got 10 tips to get you back on track.
1. Start small.
Choose one meal that you prep, even just for a few days. Lunch is usually the best place to start! Whether you prep something easy each day like quinoa, steamed veggies and a protein, or go with something a little more complex, at least you've started!
Then choose something easier for your other meals (like packets of plain quick-cooking oats for breakfast).
2. Choose a grocery store that you're (somewhat) familiar with.
If you've never stepped foot in Superstore, don't start now. It's too overwhelming, easy to pick up items you don't need, and fall off-track. That's not what you want when you're just getting into (or back into) the world of meal prep.
Choose a store that you know will have everything you need, be in the price range you want, and doesn't take a full day to get through all of the aisles.
3. Use your BBQ!
The best part about this time of year is that the weather is still warm (and dry) enough to get outside. The bonus with using your barbecue? You have even more space in your kitchen to cook other items.
4. Break out the crockpot.
You may have put the crockpot away for the summer as you craved cool salads or barbecued meals. Well, it's time to dust it off and embrace all the amazing recipes you can make with it!
5. Keep a list of your favourite recipes.
The most daunting part of meal prep can be actually deciding what to make each week. Reduce decision fatigue by keeping a list of the meals that worked, so you can use them again! Make sure you include different options like side salads, something to kick your sweet tooth, and recipes with lots of veggies!
6. Invest in storage containers.
When you meal prep enough food, you need somewhere to store it. Especially if you're counting macros, etc. it's easier to weigh once, and spread out accordingly. By having a container set out for each meal, you'll have food ready and you'll be less likely to binge on not-so-healthy alternatives.
7. Chop it up!
You're less likely to choose healthy snacks (like veggies and hummus) when you need to put a lot of work into it... because opening a bag of chips is definitely easier than cutting up a cucumber! Chop things like carrots and celery beforehand, and put them in a container with water to keep them fresh!
8. Energy balls are key to skipping 3pm cravings.
Test out energy balls to keep you from hitting that 3pm crash. These are easy to make and don't even require a food processor (just be ready to get your hands a little dirty)! Some of the key ingredients your should include are:
- Protein like: nut butters, seeds, ground nuts, or flavoured protein powder
- Fibre like: flax seeds, chia seeds, or ground oats
- Healthy fat like: coconut oil (it keeps it hard when it's cold!), nut butters, seeds
- Carbohydrate like: dates, ground oats
9. Choose easy snacks.
Keep no-prep snacks on-hand like fruit, nuts, and protein bars. If you stock your fridge and cupboard with easy-to grab snacks, you're more likely to reach for these rather than go for a muffin, or binging on dinner later.
10. Buy in bulk (if you have the room).
Not only will you likely save money, but it can mean that you have less trips to the grocery story. Buying meat, fish, and grains in bulk means you won't have to lug up 20 lbs of groceries each week (but maybe just once).