How many times do you find yourself rushing in the morning only to say “I’ll grab something in the drive-thru with my coffee,” or “There’s no time to eat, I’ll wait until my break and go to the store,” or you don’t bother to eat at all?
How many evenings do you grab take out because you are too tired after a full day of work and don’t have the energy or desire to go home and cook a full out meal?
If you are doing or saying any of these things more then you want to admit, then you probably know it’s time to make a change! And here is the solution….
The almighty tool of success in weight loss and maintenance, organization and time saving techniques. I’ve been flexing my food prep muscle for a couple years now and can honestly say I will NEVER go a week without prepping something! From protein bars to lasagna, completing food prep means I have more time available to do things I actually WANT to do (and this is coming from someone who LOVES cooking and baking!)
I will admit that the first time (okay, the first couple of times) I prepped food for a week, it felt like I would never finish! Part of me wondered how this was any benefit to myself, and I even considered giving it up. But I kept up with it, made a weekly plan, and now only require about 3 hours…and yes, that includes clean up!
“But honestly,” you ask, “is it really worth spending all those hours prepping food?” Read the list below and you tell me!
1) Save Time by Spending Time: The three hours I spend prepping food saves me at least 45 minutes every day. I don’t need to take time every evening to cook from scratch and clean up pots and pans after every meal. At most I only need to cook vegetables for the meat I already have prepped and thawing in the fridge. I can come home from work and be eating within 10 minutes, no longer taking 30 minutes to cook and plate a meal!
2) Save Money: Having snacks on hand means I no longer visit drive thrus or stores to get my hunger satisfied. It’s safe to say that a batch of bars (like these) will cost less then a daily chocolate bar or muffin from a store…and they’re better for you! When food prepping, it’s helpful to buy bulk packages of meats to cook and freeze into individual portions. Normally it’s the value packs that yield the most savings so stock up! Frozen vegetables are great to have when you are pressed for time to prep and cook fresh vegetables. Take advantage of sales on these products to get the most bang for your buck!
3) Save Your Brain: Life is stressful enough, why stress about your meals? If you have meat cooked and frozen, rice or beans cooked and in the fridge, and a bag of mixed greens, you are good to go! Thaw the meat and plate your meal. Simple. Now go worry about something else 😉
4) Save Your Waistline: If you’re trying to lose a couple of pounds or even maintain your weight, skipping meals and living in drive thru’s is not going to help you reach your goals! Making healthy snacks to take to work will keep you away from the not so good options sitting behind glass cases at the coffee shop. Those are treats….not stuff to be eaten every day! After a week of taking my own meals and snacks, I look forward to making a trip to my favorite coffee spot for a special splurge (banana chocolate chip coffee cake, anyone??)
5) Save The Excuses: Kids? Work? Late Nights? Early Mornings? Enough! Prepping food means you can shake all the excuses you give for not being able to eat a healthier diet. Once it’s prepped, it’s done! You have an enormous amount of nutrient rich foods ready and waiting at your convenience. Stop making excuses and start making changes. It’s fool proof!
Here is my latest prep results:
Above: Zucchini noodle lasagna, spicy chicken bites, and turkey burgers.
So what are some tips to start a food prepping lifestyle? I’m glad you asked!
1) Look Ahead: From work schedules to doctor appointments, after school activities and birthday parties, most people have a vague idea about what the week has in store for them. Use that as your starting point to figure out what days you have more time to spend cooking, and what days you may be running late, or need to eat out of the house.
2) Map It Out: Now that you have a rough game plan of how your week is going to play out, think of what you and your family needs to make it through that week. How often are you eating snacks? Do you have children or a spouse doing the same thing? Add up all those snacks and make something to fill those requirements. This can be done by making a few batches of muffins and cookies which are perfect to freeze. Each day grab what you need and move on! When it comes to dinner time, large batches of pasta sauce or lasagna are great to be portioned out and frozen, or kept in the fridge for a few days.
3) Make The Most of Your Prep Time: Once you are ready to prep the food, take a look at what each recipe requires. How many items require the oven and stove top? Plan it so you can have one item in the oven baking while you prep the next item to go in. It may take a while to figure out how to best utilize your time, but it will get easier, I promise!
Are you a prepper? What are your favorites to make? Share your ideas and share this article to help other people join in this activity!