I have meal prep envy.
There, I said it. It sounds totally ridiculous but its true. Those stacks of plastic containers filled with perfectly portioned out meals made for a whole week? Yeah, those pictures give the planner in me a warm fuzzy feeling.
Why am I envious? I mean, why can’t I just do that myself, you might ask. Well, the number one reason is no time but I HATE that excuse for so many reasons. Why? Because, you MAKE TIME for what is important.
So maybe the thought of meal prep sounds desirable but really is not as important as I thought?
I decided to give meal prep a one week test run and I came to a few conclusions 1) Prepping food for a family of four for the whole week takes WAY more time than I am willing to allocate to it and the demands of my children just don’t allow for it.
2) I got sick of my meal choices by the second day yet I had food planned out for 5 days. Needless to say I didn’t enjoy a lot of my food that week and snacked a lot more than usual as to try and avoid the food I had prepped.
After this week ended I was slightly discouraged because I loved/love the idea of meal prep and was just sad that it wasn’t going to work for me. So, I began taking little bits and pieces of what I did for the week and tweaking them to work for me and my family. Over the past few months I have come up with just a short list of what I prep through out the week.
I still don’t prep on just ONE day but I will prep stuff for 3-4 day chunks. Ok, so, here is my list.
1) Smoothie packs. I have a smoothie EVERY morning for breakfast so these were a no-brainer for me. I take 4 zip log bags and a few bags of pre-packed spinach (I get mine from Trader Joe’s), a bag of frozen pineapple or mango (sometimes I go for berries but rarely), and two bananas. Each bag gets a heaping handful of spinach, a half cup of frozen fruit, and half a banana. I use one a day and I ALWAYS reuse my bags. Some of my add in items that I don’t freeze are; avocado, water, milk, chia seeds, protein powder, and shredded coconut.
2) Protein. I say protein because I go many different directions with this. Sometimes I hard boil 4-5 eggs for egg salad or quick snacks. Sometimes, though, it means making a large pot of lentils, or grilling up a bunch of chicken on the grill. Really, it boils down to what I feel like making and what’s on my menu for the week.
3) Vegetables. Sometimes I will cut veggies up all at once and serve throughout the week (cucumber, bell peppers) and sometimes I will cut up veggies same day if I am using them for salads, sauces, soups, etc. I also buy a lot of frozen vegetables, which isn’t exactly prepping but frozen vegetables tend to come in pre cut up form so all you have to do is heat them up.
Also, since cutting up vegetables, I have noticed my three year old trying them more often. I guess when you have vegetables out all the time that are in bite sized pieces, even the pickiest eaters are going to try them eventually.
So there you have it, my short but sweet list of how I prep food. This list might or might not work for you. Remember, the recipe for success in meal prep is making it work for YOU.
What food items do you prep to save you time? Do you prep all at once or every few days? Do you find that prepping helps you and your family eat healthier? I would love to hear from you.