On a scale of one to I hate meal prepping, it’s a 17.
But here’s the deal: you know, and I know, that if you want to make healthier choices with your nutrition, you need to meal prep.
Here’s the other deal - I hate it.
But I have to do it.
But I hate it.
So how do you reconcile those two things? I can’t tell you exactly how you should do it, because I don’t know what makes meal prepping hard for you. But I can tell you what makes it hard for me, and how I’m working with my feelings on food prep to try and better implement the process.
1. Look ahead
This is the planning part. I’m not a planner. According to my client who is a successful writer, my writing style would qualify me as a “pantser.” I write by the seat of my pants. I do everything by the seat of my pants. But here’s the other thing: when it comes to looking ahead to my schedule, I have it easy.
Because I don’t have kids, my weekly schedule largely stays the same. I don’t have to worry about baseball games, lacrosse games, or end of school year concerts that your kids forgot to tell you about until the morning of. I know I have it easy.
The only planning I have to do is around my lunch options at work. I generally plan my fasting days for Tuesdays and Thursdays when I’m busiest, but if I don't bring something to work on Mondays and Wednesdays, I'll end up making choices that aren't inline with my current fitness goals.
2. Make a menu
Here’s my menu for this week:
Monday - Salmon and broccoli
Tuesday - Chicken and peppers
Wednesday - Smoked Turkey Breast and zoodles.
Thursday - There’s a food truck at the gym for client appreciation night so I’ll have a protein shake before hand and maybe have something from the food truck.
Friday - I’m off so I’ll find a recipe to spring on Sheila Friday night. (These efforts usually appears on my instagram stories, because I don't really know what I'm doing, but I'm trying).
3. Shop for ingredients (but make it fun)
When I shop, I wear my giant noise cancelling headphones and listen to Doris Day. I just do, ok? Que Sera Sera.
I also buy most of the same items: low fat cottage cheese, almonds, packs of tuna, beef jerky, and veggies that I can eat on the go like sugar snap peas, peppers, and cherry tomatoes. I’ll also pick up the proteins for the week or ask Sheila to do that because she does more shopping than I do.
4. Cook for the week (but make it fun)
Last week I found a new recipe for salt and vinegar grilled chicken and that’s what I made while I watched the Pirates lose. Again. I made enough that night to have some lunch options for the week. The only way I’m going to make this routine stick is to make it fun. Right now, that means I make Instagram stories and catch up on the Handmaid’s Tale, because I need to entertain myself while I try to figure out what it means to julienne a vegetable...
5. Store it conveniently
To me, this is the most important step. If I have the food I want to eat ready to go in the fridge, and all I have to do is grab it and go, I’m in. Will I sometimes leave that food on the counter because I’m a shit show getting out the door? Yes! Of course I will. But I have a better chance of success if I have it in a container and ready to go.
Here’s the thing - making healthy choices takes work. And you have to be willing to put in the work. I’d like to pretend that it’s different than that, but it’s not.
But I will also say that meal prepping is doable. You just have to find the routine that works for you, which might not be the routine that works for everyone else.
Find a way to have fun with the process. If you can do that, you can stick with anything.