- What to Prep: For me, I prep a few things for the week every Sunday! Just pick a day when you know you will have some free time, and make that your prep day! Sometimes I get a little lazy during the summer with prep because I know I'll have time to cut up whatever I need, etc. the day of, but when the school year starts back I will go back to a more detailed food prep. This is great for anyone with kids, with a job, in school, or just with a busy schedule! First, I always prep at least 2 whole grains, usually brown rice and quinoa, but I switch it up occasionally for something new. Just cook enough to last you the week, and stick it in a tupperware. Next, I will prep some baked chicken for the week, and sometimes ground turkey as well. I don't make fish ahead as it does not last well in the fridge. I bake my tempeh usually the day of or the day before. You could prep it for the whole week though, as it lasts well. I ALWAYS prep some sweet potatoes for the week as these are my absolute favorite! I prep these for about 3 days at a time though, as they will get soggy if left in tupperware much longer. For me, with other veggies, I prefer them cooked the day of, because they loose a lot of their flavor when cooked then stored away. Instead, rinse and chop them ahead of time so that they are ready to cook when you are! Chop up tomatoes, onions, fruit, and whatever else you desire and put them in separate tupperware. I also go ahead and rinse off legumes and keep them in tupperware ready to be used in salads, mixed with rice, or just by themselves! For those who need something to go for breakfast, overnight oats are always a great option and there are so many combinations! Also, hardboiled eggs are a great source of protein that you could take on the go.
- How To Pack a Balanced Meal: Now you are probably wondering what to do with all those single items you have prepped since none of them are put into a meal yet! Here's my rule of thumb...Pick a protein, a healthy fat, and a few carbs. Be sure you are getting a couple servings of whole grains each day for your carbs as well, not just veggies. Each meal should have a source of complex carbs, such as whole grains or sweet potatoes. Pick a veggie or two to pack to go towards your daily serving of veggies. I would aim for five servings a day minimum, and of course, more is great too! Great sources of protein are chicken, fish, turkey, eggs, legumes, tempeh, and tuna. Some healthy fats are nuts, nut butters, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, and salmon. There are more, these are just some ideas!
- How To Keep it From Getting Boring: A lot of people say prepping food takes the fun out of eating, but this does not have to be true. Yes, taking the same salad or chicken and rice every day for lunch would get very boring, but you do not have to do this! Combine different grains, veggies, and protein sources and keep changing it up! Season your grains, mix them with other foods, add cheese on top, just get creative! If you pack a salad, put ingredients in that will make it flavorful such as chickpeas, walnuts, edamame, or salmon. Change up your dressing each time so you don't get bored of it. Another fun idea is bringing ingredients to make lettuce wraps with. The combinations for this are endless! There are also many sandwich combinations that are sure to keep you from getting bored of your packed lunches. Overall, just bring foods you enjoy rather than just throwing in some unflavored rice, a chicken breast, and a handful of almonds. Mix them up and get creative!
- Healthy Snack Ideas: For snacks, there are SO MANY healthy options. My main rule on snacks is avoid processed and packaged things. If you do bring a bar, be sure that the ingredients are natural and there is no added sugars, etc. A lot of people will just eat and apple and wonder why they are still hungry, but that's because carbs don't keep you full for long at all. Be sure to mix your carbs, whether that be fruit, rice cakes, or granola, with a little bit of fat, protein, or both in order to satisfy you until your next meal. I love bringing fruit with either nuts or veggies with hummus. Yogurt with fruit is another great option. Also, fruit and nut bars or kind bars are a great snack idea with a good mix of carbs, fats, and protein.
I hope this helped you guys clear up some questions on meal prep and what to pack :)