5 Top Tips for Meal Planning & Prep

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One of the most common questions I get in my health coaching practice pertains to meal preparation and meal planning. Meal planning and prep is absolutely essential to making the transition to eating healthier. I often get feedback like ‘well, I didn’t have any food in my fridge, so I had to stop at ­­­­­­­______________ (fill in any number of fast food restaurants). While clients make their best effort to stop somewhere ‘healthier’ you really can’t rely on what most establishments market as ‘healthy.’ I mean, did you see that the almighty Subway was putting the same ingredient in their bread that’s also found in yoga mats. Bluck! No wonder we have such issues with digestive health! For more information related to investigation on ingredients and what’s in your food, check out Food Babe’s website here.

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Okay, so when it comes to meal planning and preparation, here’s where to start:

  1. Similar ingredients, similar prep process. Look for 3-5 or so recipes that you’d like to make that weekend (or whenever you plan to meal prep) for the upcoming week. Keep in mind, you want to choose recipes that have similar ingredients. You don’t want to have to buy ingredients nor prepare ingredients that are of different worlds.  Keep it simple.
  2. At the same time, variety is your friend. Look for some animal protein-based recipes and some vegetarian ones. Varying your food ensures that you will get an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to fuel and repair your body (you can also develop a food allergy/sensitivity if you eat the same food over and over).
  3. You might want some recipes, ie: for lunch, that you don’t have to warm – you can prep it, package it, take it  & eat it…simple I say! (Microwaves are not your friend when it comes to improving your health).DSC_0038
  4. What’s that other saying, fresh is always best…especially with all the delicious produce coming available! I like to make a large salad that I can place into glassware & that’s typically the foundation for a simple, healthy lunch for at least the first few days of the week. What other veggies do you like? Carrots, celery, & raw beet chips pair perfectly with hummus for a quick snack. Kale chips anyone?Lately, my salads have included chopped romaine & spinach with arugula with chopped scallions, mini sweet peppers; sometimes I’ll have raw beets, and I’ll also add some cherry tomatoes on top. Today, I added sweet corn with everything – ooh my what is tasty!

    Choose what source of protein you’d prefer with your lunch – animal or vegetarian based. Sometimes I’ll have bison or turkey burger mixed in with my salad & the lentil, quinoa, corn combination is a perfect plant-based mixture too.

  5. Miscellaneous ingredients that I like to have on hand to create a delicious raw treats include: nuts & seeds (nearly any variety but I tend to get almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts). You don’t have to have all of them, just choose 1 or 2 varieties. I also have stevia, honey or brown rice syrup (lately) vanilla, some sea salt in the cabinet and ready to go. Variations you might also want include cacao nibs, coconut flakes, and/or cacao powder. You create something like this in no time! (sub any nut butter for coconut butter as needed).DSC_0034

Here’s a snapshot of my thinking process the other week when I was meal planning:

  • I noticed that I had some lentils in the cabinet. Instead of preparing stuffed acorn squash with turkey burgers like I had a few weeks prior, I knew I could stuff the squash with lentils & other delicious veggies like peppers, kale, onions, & garlic.
  • Next, I had some quinoa on hand that I wanted to prepare. Simple, throw together the cooked quinoa, lentils, sweet corn  + Braggs Liquid Aminos and some other simple seasonings like red chili flakes or cumin or both. I typically sauté onions & garlic and that’s the base for most recipes.
  • I also recalled seeing a recipe for a homemade tortilla/crepe that sounded really simple & healthy and that I could use to make a lentil wrap.
  • Finally, choose a source of animal protein that would work to pair in your wrap…hello delicious chicken wrap or you could pair easily with a yummy mixed green salad…or with roasted vegetables, etc.

Now, I’d love to know what you find most difficult about meal planning/prep? Any burning questions you want answers to? You probably have a trick or two up your sleeve, please share!

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