Meal prep is the ultimate life and timer saver of the Whole30, but also such a useful skill for anyone trying to become more healthy in this new year regardless of your plan or program. It may seem like a daunting task, but the more thought and time you put into it on the front end, the more time and headache you’re going to save during the week when you’re really busy.
I got so far off the meal-prep train at the end of last year that it hardly recognizes me and I ate so much over the holidays that I barely recognize myself. But it feels so good to finally be back in the swing of things and it came right back to me like riding a bicycle.
Today I’m going to take you through the foundation of my whole30 meal prep and then later in program I’m going to go into more detail of how to do it like a pro.
You’re going to need to set aside plenty of time for this. The good news is that the longer you do it, the more it becomes second nature, but at first it can be a real pain (unless you’re like me who grocery shops and cooks for fun). I’m a big believer in preparation not only to save time, but also to prevent from making less than optimal decisions that we all make in times of runger. When you plan, you usually shoot for the best case scenario, which in this case is usually healthier and more delicious.
In this step I lay out (to the best of my ability) exactly what I plan to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner throughout the week. I start with breakfast and lunch because they are generally much easier. For these two meals I’m lucky enough to enjoy eating the same thing everyday, but you may want to come up with a couple ideas and make a rotation. Dinner is a little more tricky because I have trouble deciding what I want and what I’m going to have time to make. I usually get on Pinterest, survey the people I’ll be cooking for, and come up with about 3-5 different ideas that I’ll be able to eat for dinner and leftovers all week.
Once you decide what you’re going to eat, lay out each recipe so you know what ingredients you’ll need. This may sound tedious, but I do it to save me from a trip to the grocery store later in the week and to keep me from buying something I won’t use.
Look at the meals you just came up with and jot down each item you’ll need into categories for your grocery list. As you come up with this, it’s a good time to think about emergency food you might need like larabars, unsweetened coconut flakes, and cashews.
Here’s another part you probably don’t want to hear: I like to go to multiple different grocery stores. I usually try to stick with just two (mainly Sprouts and Kroger), but sometimes I’ll make a stock up trip to Costco or splurge a little at Whole Foods or Fresh Market. You definitely don’t have to do this to make Whole30 or healthy work, but in the end I get exactly what I want and I save a bunch of money. I could never knock out my entire list at Whole Foods because I’m 24 and poor, but I also can’t get my ghee or coconut aminos at Kroger so you see my dilemma.
Each week is a little different so this time I’m just going to give you an overview of the staples.
I start by getting all colanders on deck and washing my veggies. Then I begin by prepping for breakfast. I eat veggies with 2 eggs over-easy during the week and even on the weekends so I chop a couple onions, cube a sweet potato, cut my broccoli into florets, trim the ends off my asparagus, and shred a baggie full of brussel sprouts. If I think I’m going to be rushing that week, I’ll also hard-boil 6 eggs.
For lunch I like a kale salad with a bunch of toppings so I prep different things and choose when I pack my lunch for work. I wash and dry my kale really well and shred it like taco lettuce and store it in a gallon bag in the fridge. I also prepare some of my toppings by quartering cherry tomatoes, cutting up red bell pepper, baking a simple chicken breast in the oven, etc.
Dinner is a wild card, but there are some things that I always like for my easy go-to’s. I use a chopped up onion and throw that in a large skilled with some ground beef and seasoning. I also like to prep more veggies for easy sides like baking 2-3 sweet potatoes, shredding or halving brussel sprouts, and putting cauliflower in the food processor to chop to rice consistency.
When starting back, I had to make sure I had different size baggies and tupperware. Something I hope to do when I have my own kitchen is use more glass jars and less baggies, but for now I’m ultimately a guest in my sisters house and I have to be mindful of how I stuff the cabinets and the fridge.
I hope this prep was helpful and not too overwhelming! Reading back, it sounds like I spend all day doing it, but the grocery list is usually done within ten or so minutes and the actual kitchen prep takes no more than two hours. Plus, I never mind it and it makes cooking all three meals each day during the a breeze!
Do you like to plan ahead?
What do you do to prepare for the week ahead?
Whats your favorite recipe that you’ve tried recently?