If you’ve been following along on the blog for awhile, you may remember that I worked with my good friend Taylor earlier this year on the BTD 6 Week Meal Plan. She’s a registered dietitian and passionate about all things healthy eating, teaching people how to meal prep, and just making people’s lives easier when it comes to food and nutrition. I’ve learned so much from her and she’s always been such a great encouragement to me when it comes to eating better, so I wanted to share some of that knowledge with y’all in today’s post!
I’d say one of my biggest struggles is figuring out how to actually make the healthy meals (that I imagine in my brain) ACTUALLY happen so today we’re going to talk about HOW to meal prep and set yourself up for success!
As I’ve shared earlier Taylor has been an amazing inspiration in my life for healthier meal prepping. When I first started to consider eating healthier meals and how to prep for my week I was totally lost. I didn’t know where to start and who to ask. Taylor was so kind in offering a helping hand and sharing her passion with me. With her encouragement I have slowly started incorporating these meal tips into my own lifestyle. But the great thing is that she’s also teaching me balance… nutritious and fueling meals to get me through my crazy workdays and sometimes evenings, which then allows for more fun and sometimes less nutritious dinners out when I have the time to really enjoy them. And, as you’ll see later on down the road, I still get my hummus and pita (#WIN)!
Her lending hand and encouragement is something that has inspired me to appreciate the powerful women in my life. Our relationship has not only been great to lean on, but has allowed us to strengthen and learn from one another. That’s why, with this month being international women’s month, I wanted to share with you all OUR experience and encourage you as women to seek strong relationships with each other. Empower other women around you and encourage them, to be better women!
Outfit Details: Likely Ruffle Top // Paige White Denim // Sole Society Flatform Espadrilles // Sole Society Foray Bag // 1.State Crepe Red Blouse // Articles of Society Jeans // Sole Society Strappy Tie Sandals // Sole Society Kianna Bag
How to Meal Prep: Step By Step Thought Process
For the meal plans, Taylor and I focused a lot on the actual recipes and making sure that they all worked together (with a lot of overlap) to create a simple and budget-friendly grocery list. But after completing the 6 weeks of grocery lists, Taylor and I wanted to take a step back and focus on meal planning in general. So today, we’ll be sharing 3 recipes that we cooked together, but also a little bit about HOW to carry this out when prepping your own week of meals.
Step One: Determine How Many Meals You Need
Pick recipes that you know you will actually have time to prep and create. Think about how many meals you will be in charge of making yourself this week. If it’s a lot – have fun buying extra veggies and fruit so that you will have plenty to incorporate in meals throughout the week. If you only are in charge of a few meals this week, keep your items limited to just what you might need in a single recipe.
Remember, to create meals that are both fueling and satisfying, you want to try and incorporate at least 3 out of the 5 food groups, making sure that one of those is a lean source of protein.
Step Two: Consider Your Ingredients & Cuisine Type
Try to incorporate ingredients you know you would use again later. For example…
- Eggs… you can always whip up scrambled eggs for breakfast or hard boil to go on a salad or have as a snack.
- Whole Grain bread… you will probably use for sandwiches, morning toast, fancy weekend French toast, or you can freeze and save for later. Whereas pita, you may not be as apt to use in dishes later on.
- Canned beans… can be thrown into soups, salads, pasta salads, or paired in veggie, wraps and dips.
- Chicken… may be more likely to use in a sandwich, top pasta or veggie bowl, or to shred onto a homemade pizza, etc. vs. ground beef or another more unique protein.
And just so you can get a general idea of recipe direction, let’s choose some sort of a cuisine – it will help narrow down the possibilities and give you some momentum for coming up wish a dish. Had a lot of Mexican lately? Probably don’t want a Mexican-inspired dish! Use that to steer your flavor profile, which can then steer your ingredient selection. For example:
- If you want Mexican… you will fill your cart with things like… avocado, salsa, cilantro, peppers, black beans, etc.
- If you feel Italian… your cart may consist more of… mushrooms, onions, broccoli, summer squash, pasta sauce, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella, Italian Seasoning, fresh basil, lean ground beef or chicken.
- If you feel more Greek… your cart may consist more of… olives, feta, artichokes, capers, chicken, shrimp, hummus, red onion, pita bread, tomatoes, oregano, dill.
Step Three: Choose Your Protein & Veggies
You don’t need meat for every meal every day and night, so maybe choose 1 meat protein and then beans and eggs. Both of those can be used in numerous dishes if you have leftovers. And don’t forget that whole grains like quinoa, whole grain pasta, and crackers also contain some protein – so they can add a protein boost if needed in a dish. And for your veggies, think about ones that could be eaten raw as a snack or thrown onto a fresh salad in the case of leftovers but also veggies that once cooked, will hold up to reheating throughout the week. If really pressed for time and you are not sure exactly what you will be making – pick veggies that are fairly versatile and could be used in various dishes. Such as: yellow summer squash, zucchini, broccoli or broccolini, grape tomatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower, bell peppers (red, yellow, or green), spinach or kale, sweet potatoes or white potatoes.
Step Four: Choose Your Grains & Toppings
Pick your grain choices to serve with your dishes – a quinoa, a whole grain pasta and whole grain crackers can do the trick. (A variety of veggies can be tossed into cooked quinoa for a quinoa veggie bowl or onto cold pasta and Italian dressing for a simple pasta salad. Just top with chicken, eggs, or beans and you have your 3 food groups for a nutrient – packed and fueling meal.)
- Quinoa can be cooked and divided out into dishes throughout the week. Same with whole wheat pasta.
- Whole grain crackers can be eaten on the side at lunch and paired with hummus, pesto or Trader Joes’ spinach and Greek yogurt dip.
After choosing your main grain, think about which toppings you could add that would be good to add a little something extra? I think your selected “cuisine” choice will help you out here and by this point you should have a pretty good idea of the actual “dish” you’ll be preparing. So just consider what might taste good on top! Think – dried cranberries, crumbed feta or goat cheese, roasted almonds, toasted pumpkin seeds. These also store well, so you can save them for meals the next week.
Step Five: Finalize, Prep and Go!
- Once you have chosen your meals, create your grocery list, listing every item to be incorporated.
- Don’t forget to include extras and sides on your grocery list! Sometimes one bowl will not be enough. Try to accompany with different items such as: fresh fruit, a yogurt (try Greek or other high protein yogurt on days not eating meat), granola bars, whole grain pita & hummus, soup, veggie slices & hummus, etc. Have these ready to grab when throwing your meals and snacks together in the morning.
- Carve out time during the weekend or weekday and devote it to meal prep.
- Once ingredients are prepped, portion them all out into individual meal containers, seal and store in the refrigerator.
- In the mornings, grab your already prepared lunch and / or breakfast item along with some of the sides and you’re ready to go!
And that’s it! It’s simple enough – I think the secret is just making the time to actually plan. I personally think that’s the HARDEST part. But if you take the time to plan, eating healthy and being intentional with your meals really isn’t that complicated. It just takes making the decision and sticking to it!
What about you?
Have any tips for meal planning that we might not have mentioned?! I would love to hear what y’all think!
Want to Make The Veggie Bowls?
If you want the down low on these veggie bowls we made, then check out this blog post that shows you HOW to apply these steps included in this blog post (i.e., “How to meal Plan”) IN REAL LIFE by way of preparing 3 different veggie bowls for the week.
Thanks so much to Sole Society for making this blog post possible! I’m so grateful to get to work with a brand that’s supportive of my creative vision and just as excited about serving Y’ALL (and providing GOOD, quality content) as I am! As always, all opinions are mine!