In a solemn attempt to be proactive in living a healthy lifestyle, there has to be some structure. That structure is solely up to you. I know this from experience, but if I fail to prepare or plan my meals ahead of time, I'm going to be distracted by the plethora of takeout options near my home and workplace. So in this post, I will explain the difference between meal prepping and meal planning, and hopefully encourage you to join me in doing either.
Meal Planning v. Meal Prepping
There really is no big mysteryto the difference between these two options. Both are effective for people on the go, or who just don't like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Meal planning is simply taking time to map out your meals for the week. It's writing out your breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks for the week or work week, or even just one day at a time. This can be used in addition to meal prepping, or on its own. Planning your meals ahead of time takes the thought process out of the equation, and depending on when you plan your meals, you can use the plan as a shopping list.
Now, to keep me focused, I usually make a grocery list and head to the market on Saturday's and prep my food on Sunday, for the work week. I keep my meal plan and prep SIMPLE!
It usually looks something like this :
Protein : egg whites, shrimp
Green Veggies : spinach
Whole Grain : wheat toast, veggie muffin, steel cut oatmeal [with cinnamon + fruit]
[also check out this recipe for mini shrimp frittatas]
Lunch / Dinner :
Protein : shrimp, salmon, tuna
Whole Grain : brown rice, multigrain wrap
Green Veggies : asparagus, zucchini, spinach
Plain Greek yogurt w/ fruit, raw almonds, Popcorn
Drink : water, green tea
Some people can't eat the same thing everyday, and I get that, because I get bored, too. I like to switch it up to avoid slipping and dipping in carryout. I like to look at food blogs, cooking magazines, or Pinterest for inspiration to keep meals from being bland and boring, but still healthy. When I prep and plan, sometimes I only cook enough for a few days. Below are a few meals and options for you. I have heard people say that they want their food to be fresh and that's understandable. However, I have not had an issue with freshness using airtight containers. Everyone has different reasons as to why they would want to prep and plan their meals ahead of time. For me, it's a combination of eating healthy, losing weight, and saving money. Here are a few options and general tips for you :
1. Wash and slice, or peel, your fruits and vegetables when you bring them home from the store. I pre-portion my fruits and veggies for my meals. Like the salad and the fruit in the picture, below. If you are a juicer, put your cut and cleaned ingredients in a mason jar, refrigerate, juice them when you're ready, and pour the juice into the jar for an on-the-go drink!
2. If you like your meat to be fresh, you can clean it the night before you plan to cook it and allow it to marinate in herbs and spices.
3. Pre-portioning your snacks will surely keep you from over eating. So grab a handful of your favorite nuts, popcorn, or whatever it is you love to snack on, and toss them into a baggie or a bowl for guilt-free snacking.
breakfast|steel cut oatmeal [not pictured] + berries/snack|plain Greek yogurt + pineapples/lunch|sauteed shrimp + spinach salad w/ tomatoes + balsamic vinaigrette
lunch/dinner|baked salmon, brown rice + sauteed vegetables
lunch/dinner|grilled shrimp, brown rice + sauteed vegetables