I would venture to say, one of the hardest parts of committing to a healthy lifestyle, for most people, including myself, is the diet. For most of us, it’s easy to make time for 30-60 minutes at the gym, but staying consistent when it comes to making healthy eating choices is often times extremely difficult. However, for me, meal prep has taken the guess work out of daily meal planning. I prep my meals on Sundays, and throughout the week, all I have to do is grab the food, portion out what I need, and eat! I don’t have to waste time thinking about what sounds good or figuring out what ingredients I need/what ingredients I have on hand.
Meal prep is key because it ensures you’re prepared for the moments when it would be easier to grab something quick and unhealthy. This is why meal prepping is my number one tip when it comes to maintaining healthy eating habits. I don’t have time to prepare well thought out meals from start to finish each and every day, and if you have a full-time job, I know I’m not alone in that! It’s so important to have something prepared for a meal, whether you’re on your way out the door in the morning, coming home after an exhausting day at work, or really at any point in the day when you’re just not in the mood to put together a meal. In my opinion, the less thought your diet/meals take, the more maintainable it’s going to be long term.
And, let’s be honest, most things in your pantry or fridge that are ready for you to grab and eat, are not the healthiest options. So meal prepping large quantities of healthy choices that you can divide up and grab each day of the week, makes life so much easier.
What do I prep?
I prep all of my proteins, carbs, and veggies for the week, which means my lunches, dinners, and snacks (which are usually prepackaged protein bars/fruit/etc) are ready to go, leaving me with only breakfast to prepare each day. Waking up and not having to worry about packing a lunch, or what I need to thaw out for dinner, etc., is the absolute best feeling.
I go back and forth between prepping my breakfasts, and not. If I’m eating something cold/easy to prep, like overnight oats, I prep those ahead of time. Right now though, I’m eating cream of wheat in the mornings, which isn’t all that great refrigerated, so I don’t prep that ahead of time.
When do I meal prep?
I try to always do my meal prep on Sundays. Sunday is the day that I’m the least busy, and I have the most time to set aside for making a grocery list, shopping, and meal prepping. Altogether, it takes me less than two hours, but in the long run, it saves me so much time. I spend less than ten seconds putting my meals together each day because they’re waiting in my fridge for me, ready to go!
Where do I start?
- I start by breaking up my shopping list into six main categories for the week. I have protein, veggies, carbs, fruits, dairy, and snacks. That pretty much covers all my bases for each of my meals! This week’s list is below!
- chicken breasts
- ground turkey
- Steamed broccoli
- steamed green beans
- sweet potatoes
- Greek yogurt
- cheese sticks
- Go Macro protein bars
- yogurt with strawberries
- Besides my main categories, I may add a few other snacks or any other item I might need that week. Once I’m done, I take my list, and go shop!
- When I get back, I make sure to clean any veggies that need to be cleaned, put anything away that isn’t going to be prepped, and get to prepping!
I prep two sources of protein every single week – one for lunch, and one for dinner. I make enough to last me all 7 days of the week. This week, I did ground turkey for lunch and creamy ranch pulled chicken for dinner. Both are quick and easy!
- Ground turkey:
- For the ground turkey, I spray a pan with coconut oil spray, brown the turkey, and spice it with whatever I’m feeling! I typically use salt, pepper, and taco seasoning, but you can use whatever you like!
- Creamy Ranch Chicken
- For the creamy ranch chicken, I line my crockpot with a crock pot liner (this is hands down the greatest in the kitchen tip my mom ever taught me – you can buy a bag of crockpot liners for $9, they’re worth every penny – absolutely zero clean up and no caked on food left in the crockpot!) and throw the raw chicken breasts in with a cubed up 8oz block of fat free cream cheese, 1 packet of dry ranch mix, and one cup of low sodium chicken broth. Turn the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours, or until fork tender, and voila! Shred the chicken with a fork, mix everything together, and you’re good to go! This is great in a Mama Lupes Low Carb Tortilla, on top of a salad, or just by itself!
I’m eating the ground turkey for lunch, so I pre portion it out into my Emerald Living Meal Prep Containers. The creamy ranch chicken is for dinner, so I put it in a large Tupperware container, and just portion it out each night as I need it!
Other easy to prep protein sources:
- chicken breasts
- eggs (hard boiled)
- chicken sausage
- turkey burgers
- veggie burgers
As for vegetables for the week, I typically pick two or three items to prep in bulk. For this week, I did steamed chopped broccoli and steamed green beans.
As far as vegetables go, you need to do what you like best. I love steamed vegetables and it is SO quick and easy. However if you like roasted veggies or raw veggies better, do it! It’s’ whatever works for you – another key to meal prep!
Since I’m eating the chopped broccoli for lunch, I pre portion it out into my lunch containers. For the steamed green beans, I will eat them for my dinners this week so I put them in a large Tupperware container and into the fridge so they’re ready for me to portion them out as I need them each night!
Other easy to prep veggies:
- sliced English cucumbers
- sliced peppers
- raw/roasted broccoli
- sugar snap peas
- any steamed veggies
- whipped cauliflower
- cauliflower rice
Carbs are probably the easiest thing to prep, and one of the most important! If you don’t have any carbs prepped, it’s going to be so easy to reach into the pantry to grab the chips/bread/pretzels/etc – all things I have zero self control around! So prepping my carbs makes the choice simple and easy!
This week I did sweet potatoes which could not be any easier. I take my sweet potatoes, wrap them in foil, and stick them in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the oven. You can put them on the grill too, and they’re even better! After they’re done, check to make sure they’re soft to the touch, unwrap them and mash them with a fork. Side note – if you don’t like the skin, just peel it off after they come out of the oven. They will usually slide right off if they’re done enough! You can also cut your sweet potatoes up and roast them in the oven on a baking sheet, which is just as easy, you just have to take the time to cut them up!
Other easy to prep carbs:
- brown rice
- pre-packaged brown rice/quinoa mix
For some people, snacks don’t need to be planned out. If you have a flexible schedule, or have the ability to keep food at your desk, etc., they don’t necessarily have to be thought out. For me though, I am gone from 7:00am to 5:00pm or later usually, so I have to plan and pack those too.
I typically eat a morning snack which includes some fruit and protein, and my afternoon snack is a protein bar of some kind. This week I packed Siggis yogurt with sliced strawberries, low fat string cheese, clementines, and high protein Go Macro bars!
Just a little bit about my meal prep containers – these are affordable and high quality containers that I know will last me a long time. The compartments are perfect for what I need and the lids seal extremely tightly so I never worry about anything spilling. The lid also seals each compartment individually so that none of your food tastes strange from sitting in a container together all morning!
You can find them on Instagram (@EmeraldLivingMealPrep), on their website, and on Amazon as well! These are not only cheap, but such a great investment. I used to store everything in their own individual containers which meant tons of dishwashing, not enough places to store everything in my fridge, and I could never find anything other than a Target bag that was big enough to store all my containers in when I brought my lunch to school! These containers keep everything in one place without taking up tons of space!
Please leave a comment or email me if you have any other meal prep questions! I love hearing from you guys and I am more than happy to help!