When I think of meal prepping, the first thing that comes to mind is a picture of 5 containers marked Monday through to Friday with the exact same thing inside. The meal is most likely chicken and some steamed veggies. Sounds good, but I can’t imagine eating the exact same thing for week straight!
A goal for me and my boyfriend this semester is to prepare our food ahead of time since he plays varsity volleyball and I am either teaching classes or in class every week night. We want to avoid spending excess amounts of money on eating out, and instead, eat healthier and feel organized for the week. Today was our first test. We made a list, split it in half, grabbed our groceries, and we’ve been spending the last few hours preparing. Now, I feel ready to conquer the first week of our final semester at U of T (pretty exciting)!
I know this is something a lot of people struggle with because they think it is difficult to eat healthy and cook while balancing school, sports, work, and family. What I’m going to explain to you here is that it really isn’t. Here are the steps that I went through today when preparing what I will be eating for the rest of the week.
Step 1: Select 2-3 of your favourite dishes (or something you’ve been craving) and buy the corresponding groceries. Depending on how many people you need to feed, you may need more dishes or more amounts. We chose 3 meals so we have variety for the week. One contains beef, one contains chicken, and the other is vegetarian to allow us to get a little bit of everything into our week.
Step 2: Side dishes and salads. For us, it makes sense to buy a 3 pack of lettuce because we can go through that quickly. I cleaned the lettuce, chopped it, and put it all into containers so all I need to do is add dressing in the morning. Next time, I may choose to prepare a quinoa salad instead and have that for a week, rotating some of my favourite veggies into it each time I make it. We also picked up some veggies to go with our meals (broccoli and sweet potatoes this time).
Step 3: Snacks. I know for myself, my go-to is always fruits and veggies. I am not a huge protein/granola bar fan and I find other standard snack foods not always the healthiest. So, I stuck to cutting and washing some fruits and veggies to go with our meals.
Step 4: Treats. As most others, I have a sweet tooth but I want to try and only provide myself with the best ingredients possible. This week I am making a spelt flour banana bread using apple sauce to sweeten. It is definitely okay to enjoy treats but I am trying to find alternatives for my favourite – often overly sugary – goodies.
If meal prepping is something you are working on this year feel free to share your ideas or struggles. We can all learn from one another and can hopefully apply new things into our weekly prep. Don’t be intimidated; eating healthy and home cooking just require some preplanning and creativity on our end.
Be fierce. Be strong. Be vibrant.