Food Prep the Easy Way
Written by Invictus Nutrition Coach Jenn Ryan
When I bring up the concept of ‘self care’ to people, they generally assume I’m talking only about spa days, getting a massage, having drinks with friends, or taking an Epsom salt bath. If I bring up the idea of going grocery shopping, cooking, and planning meals for the week, for some reason it’s not met with the same enthusiasm. The thing is, having readily available, high quality food choices on-hand and conveniently already cut, chopped, and cooked for the beginning or end of a long day IS a form of self care.
Imagine the lowered stress you could have if you had your groceries for the week on a Sunday afternoon, and knew that for say Monday and Tuesday, you would be having crock pot meals and you already had the ingredients to just throw in there that day. Or you have overnight oats ready for everyday of the week to have as a meal or snack or having 2-3 different fruits at the house for you and your family to munch on.
No matter what nutritional philosophy you follow, in order to reach your goals in the long or short term, you can’t just aimlessly eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and expect to achieve those goals. Proper planning on a continuous basis will make you more efficient and maybe even more creative!
Prep Plan – Go-Tos & Room for Creativity
One way to go about planning your day is to have meals with similar foods throughout the week for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, and then for dinner with the family, you can be more creative. Remember – YOU are in control. Instead of having to live reactively day-by-day, having some go-tos for meals and snacks is easy once you start doing it on a daily basis.
Prep Plan – Buy in Bulk
When I was a kid, my mom would go to the grocery store well after dinner, when the four of us kids and my father were fed and doing homework/winding down for the night. Sometimes she wouldn’t get home til 9/10pm (and yes, she had to work the next morning).
There were numerous foods that she would buy in bulk to have in the cupboards and fridge to concoct meals while everyone was on the go. Sometimes a mash-up of foods were thrown in the Crock-pot. There were special requests, and she went to the store with a list each time.
Why do I mention this? Because many people bring up how busy they are and have no time for grocery shopping and cooking. However, these days there are so many more options available to us than my mother had 30 years ago. We have Instapots, grocery delivery services, meal delivery services, Trader Joe’s and many other grocery stores providing high quality pre-cooked foods. It doesn’t have to be fancy!
Prep Plan – The Breakfast & Lunch List
Here’s what I suggest for your breakfast and lunch shopping list (tweak as needed for personal preference):
– 2-3 proteins: chicken, eggs, beef, fish
– 2-3 starchy carbohydrates: sweet potatoes, rice, oats, winter squash, quinoa
– 2-3 veggies: zucchini, brussels sprouts, sweet pepper, broccoli
– 2-3 fats: avocado, nuts/seeds, grass fed butter, olive oil
– 1-2 fruits: apples, berries, grapes
Sample Week of Breakfasts & Lunches
Breakfast: eggs, oatmeal, nuts/seeds, sweet pepper
Lunch: beef, sweet potato, zucchini, grass fed butter -OR- Chicken, rice, brussels sprouts, olive oil
* Add miscellaneous items such as spices, sprouts, condiments, sauerkraut/kimchi, etc. as desired.
Adding Variety to the Same ‘Ol
For dinners, you can do the same thing, or if you prefer to use recipes, you can have those foods on hand for each night. You’ll fill in the rest of the day’s food intake with: fruit, rice cakes, nuts, protein shakes, Greek yogurt.
From week to week, you can pick out different proteins, carbs, veggies, and fats to change it up. This also helps ensure your body is getting a variety of nutrients.
Another way to change up meals? Spices and herbs! Here’s a list of some good ones to keep on hand:
Everything But the Bagel
21 Seasoning Salute
BBQ espresso rub
(all Trader Joe’s brand)
Short on Prep Time?
Don’t have lots of time for cooking? Totally fine. Many stores now have pre-cooked proteins and carbs or frozen options as well. Here are some go-tos when you’re short on time or running out of food towards the end of the week:
- Rotisserie chicken
- microwave rice
- pre-cut veggies
Some people prefer to portion out meals while prepping, others would rather keep the foods in bulk after cooking as well and put together meals throughout the week. There are many ways to meal prep and any of them is fine, as you have to find what works best for you.
Need help figuring out all the intricacies of a nutrition plan? Talk to one of our nutrition coaches about joining the Invictus Nutrition Program online! They will be able to help you create a plan that works for you so you can stick to it! You’ll also have the support of others from around the world who are also facing the same challenges so you can share ideas and successes on your way to reaching your goals.