Meal Prepping – An evil necessary?

 I don’t know about you, but I consider meal prepping an evil necessary!  When I was working outside of the home full time, the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was think about what I was going to make for dinner.  By the time I got home from after school activities it was 7pm and no one wanted to wait for me to plan and cook!

But where do I even start?  How do I know what to cook and avoid making separate meals for my entire family?  I will say that if you have young kids (toddlers and younger) it is much easier to get them to eventually eat what you make without questioning why things look so much different than they used to. When I started learning about health and nutrition and really taking it seriously my son was 7 and my daughter was 2.  I knew very little about nutrition when my son was growing up and now I’m trying to back pedal and teach him WHY it is so important for him.  We had to make a lot of changes and he had a very hard time to adjust at first but now he will pretty much eat everything I make.  This doesn’t mean he will choose a fruit over a candy bar unfortunatley.  My daughter is the complete opposite.  She grew up on almond milk and healthier foods and she witnessed her mom making healthier choices.  She understands WHY she needs to eat healthy and exercise.  She is a very picky eater and I have a hard time getting her to eat most of the meals I make because she is a simple eater.  So what I do is make the same meals but don’t always combine the ingredients. So if I am making a stir fry for my family, I will leave out a few pieces of meat, veggies and rice and serve them separately on a plate for her.  She will usually choose a piece of fruit over the candy bar – note I said “usually.”

Ok so back to where do I start?  Well I just started reading blogs about health and nutrition and I also bought a ton of books.  I don’t want to just dive right in without seeing what my options are.  What is paleo, clean eating, counting macros?  I mean there is a ton of information out there so how do I choose one?  Trial and error!  Basically the only way you will know is if you try and fail and try again.  There isn’t a one size fits all plan.  Everyone struggles with different things and some foods trigger binging for one person that might not have the same effect on someone else.  I don’t know about you but I don’t like to feel like I am depriving myself of something.  Even if I don’t want a food I will want it once I know I can’t have it.  That’s just the way I am!  I have learned all different ways to eat and the one that works for me is one that is flexible.  Every month I review my goals and I create a plan in order to reach those goals.  If I am trying to cut fat this month then I will follow a plan that will help me do that.  The reason I fell in love with the Beachbody workouts is because they come with meal plans and they are tailored to meet the fitness demands of the workouts they are paired with.  I have a whole lot of meal plans I can refer to depending on my goals.  I fill in the necessary information like starting weight etc and I am left with a calorie range to stay within.  This is how I was able to learn so much about nutrition.  I am not a nutritionist but I have been helping others reach their goals with programs that were created by nutritionists!  They aren’t one size fits all because they use your goals and stats to create it!

Now that I have my plan, I can start meal planning and prepping so I can stay on track and avoid temptation.  When we aren’t prepared, it is so much easier to just reach for that bag of chips than think about what you should be eating at this moment.  Each weekend I start working on my grocery list.  We use a service called Peapod.  It’s an online grocery delivery service and it was a huge time saver when I was working full time outside of the house.  I find pinterest very useful for searching recipes and saving them.  I created boards for the different categories of recipes so I can easily refer back to them when I need to.  One of my favorite sites to grab recipes from is skinnytaste.com.  She has been a family favorite and we haven’t found one recipe we don’t like yet!  To make my life easier, I tend to alternate my days.   Monday, Wednesday, Friday and sometimes Sunday I will follow the same meal plan and then do the same thing for Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  This not only saves me time in meal prepping/planning but it also saves me money on groceries.  I made a calendar in google docs in a spreadsheet format so I can easily keep track of my meals day by day.  This has simplified my life in so many ways.  I can easily check what I should be eating each day from my phone or any where!  Once I have my meals planned, I start logging my groceries in on the peapod site.  Even if I choose not to shop through peapod that week I use the online grocery list and then print it out!

Ok now I have my meals planned and my groceries have arrived so now what?  Well I start prepping my foods.  I chop all my veggies and keep them in tupperware containers.  I wash all my fruit and I cook my protein 3 days in advance.  I have found that throwing my chicken in my crockpot saves me a ton of time and the meat comes out super moist.  I have been doing this for a few weeks now and I highly recommend it.  Now that I have everything prepped and I know what my meals are, my week is much easier and I don’t have kids waiting for me to come up with ideas for dinner that night 🙂

I hope you found this helpful!  I love sharing what has helped me in hopes that it can help you too!

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