October 8, 2017

7 Meal Planning and Prep Tips

To kick off my new mini challenge, Clean Week - aka Success Week, I am sharing 7 meal planning and prep tips for clean eating! As a former event and meeting planner and project manager, planning anything is my jam!

Meal planning is a non-negotiable for me. Now as a toddler mama, meal prep can be anything from “boiling” eggs in the Instant Pot for snacks to a complete throw down of fully cooked meals for the week. It truly depends on my son’s mood on any given Sunday of how much I get done. Regardless, I still have my basic tips and best practices that go a long way when it comes to planning and prepping.
While Clean Week is only a 7-day program, these tips will go a long way as you continue your journey. Because, you’re not going to just stop are?!

1. Plan for Success
This is how I look at meal planning. You’re going to eat. You’re going to the grocery store at some point – surely. You’re setting yourself up for success with a plan. It’s that simple. Click HERE to download my newest meal plan template. I am loving it

2. Repeat
I definitely repeat breakfasts and snacks, and often times dinner and lunches. Because I drink Shakeology most every day for breakfast, that is a slam dunk, easy-peasy part of my menu. Snacks are not only easy to repeat but cost efficient. As for full meals, consider the number of people in your family and multiply the recipe accordingly. Usually for us, this is doubling ingredients. However, my little guy eats a lot of what we eat!
3. Cook in Bulk 
When planning your menu for the week, choose recipes that have the same ingredients, so you can cook a big batch at once. Easy foods to cook in bulk:  
  • Ground Beef: If you plan for spaghetti and tacos in the same week, you can cook 2 – 4 lbs of ground beef/chuck/sirloin at once in a large cast iron skillet or using the saute feature on the Instant Pot.
  • Roasted Veggies: Wash, chop, toss in oil, salt and pepper, garlic, and roast in the oven on 425 F for 30-45 minutes. Have them as a side dish one night and use in a vegetable beef stew later in the week.
  • Quinoa: It doesn’t get easier than this! Cook 1-2 cups in the Instant Pot and scoop out during the week for salads and then a side dish with chicken or fish.
  • Hard Boiled Eggs: These are great mid-morning snacks, to chop in salads for protein, or breakfast with turkey bacon. 
4. Rinse, Chop, Store You don’t have to cook everything right away. Sometimes, the most labor required for a recipe is preparing to do the cooking. So take some time after you grocery shop to rinse, chop, and store fresh vegetables and fruit in air-tight containers. You can scoop out your snack portion or have the hardest work done when it’s time to cook your planned meal.
5. Plan Your Portions
Whatever you do, stop eating directly from large containers. These handy containers are lifesavers when it comes to portion control. When you plan portions, you’re not only preventing overeating. You are also less likely to waste food by preparing too much, as well as save money only buying what you will eat each week. 
6. Safety First 
Cooked food lasts 3-5 days when properly stored. If you cook large quantities of food and some won’t be eaten until the second half of the week, pop it in the freezer. Then place in the refrigerator thaw overnight. For food that don’t freeze well (eggs, sweet potatoes, squash, ...), plan those to be eaten the first half of the week or schedule time mid-week for a quick prep session. 

7. Time Management
Two tips that will save you time. I don’t know about you, but my family time is precious. For just a couple more dollars, I will often spend more on pre-cut fresh produce. My neighborhood grocery store has always provided pre-cut squash and asparagus. Recently, they really lured me in with pre-riced cauliflower, riced-sweet potatoes, sweet potato noodles, and zoodles (zucchini noodles!). While I have a Spiralizer (check it out here), some weeks it worth having it already prepped. 

The second tip is online grocery shopping and curbside pick-up. Oh my goodness, this is the best ever service grocery stores have provided for customers! Walmart and Kroger are my favorites! 
Want my meal plan template? Drop your email address, and I will share with you! 

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