How to Meal Prep for Healthy Eating
Planning ahead to eat healthy during the workweek is a simple way to build a healthy diet into your routine while also allowing for a little ad lib fun on the weekends. But even for those of us who aim to eat well during the week, it’s easy to get derailed when there’s nothing quick/exciting in the fridge, or when we’re running late and have to cobble together a lunch of pre-packaged granola bars.
Eating healthy throughout the week is totally possible with a little planning and preparation. Once you know what you’re aiming for, you can shop smart and spend a couple hours each week stocking your fridge with foods you can easily grab and take to lunch each day. And, if you’re short on time in the evenings, these same foods can double as dinner ingredients.
Basics of healthy eating
Though “healthy eating” can (and should!) look a bit different for each person, the basics are simple: focus on real food, lots of veggies, and things that you like! (We share more details defining healthy eating in our 3 Simple Tips for Healthy Eating post if you’re interested!)
Basics of healthy meal prep
Effective meal prep starts with a good plan. Here’s how we break it down:
First, know what you like. Keep a list of recipe ideas you come across. The list could be on paper, on your phone, or on a Pinterest board—whatever works best for you.
Outline your weekly menu. We created a Healthy Meal Planning Workbook to help with this. You can plan out specific recipes you’d like to make, or simply note “big salad” or “macro bowl” (some protein + some complex carbs + some healthy fats) for certain meals.
Make a list of the ingredients you’ll need. Streamline grocery shopping by organizing your list based on section of the grocery store.
weekday meal prep tips
If you tend to be short on time on weeknights, in addition to planning out what’s on the menu each day, there are a few extra steps you can take on a “prep day” to feed yourself healthy meals for the entire week:
Prep salad ingredients
Wash your greens (a salad spinner helps here!) or stock up on pre-washed greens. Chop veggies, make a homemade dressing or two, and compile other toppings.
Greens: butter lettuce, romaine, spring or baby greens, kale, arugula, spinach, microgreens
Veggies: cherry tomatoes, radishes, carrots, peas, broccoli, red onion, roasted sweet potatoes or beets, cucumber, mushrooms, grilled sweet corn, avocado
Other toppings: cashews/walnuts/almonds/pecans, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, dried cranberries, homemade croutons, hardboiled or medium-boiled egg, grilled fish/steak/chicken, baked tempeh, blue cheese, burrata
For more salad inspiration, check out our Salad Recipes Pinterest board.
Prep macro bowl ingredients
In addition to being fun salad add-ons, roasted veggies make hearty ingredients for a macro bowl. On your prep day, wash, chop and roast big batches of veggies (with just a little olive or coconut oil, salt and pepper), and add them to your salads and macro bowls throughout the week.
Try: sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, beets, squash, pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, onions
Make several portions of grains/beans/animal protein
Depending on your dietary preferences, cook up a few portions of complex carbs and protein—like quinoa, brown or wild rice, beans, lentils, chicken, fish, etc.—to construct macro bowls throughout the week. (Half your bowl should be veggies, so just think of the grains and protein as a supplement, and plan amounts accordingly.) Store these pre-cooked servings in the fridge to be called upon as needed, and no more waiting 45 minutes each night for your whole grains to cook!
Make a sauce for your macro bowl
Make a quick sauce to flavor your macro ingredients. (Or, use any of the salad dressings above, or use any of these for salads too.) They’re all made with whole foods and beneficial fats! For super simple goodness, just drizzle extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Prep smoothie ingredients
Smoothies are an easy and healthy way to pack an on-the-go breakfast or treat yourself to an afternoon snack loaded with veggies and plant-based protein. Check out our Healthy Smoothie Recipes Pinterest Board for ideas, or experiment with your own combinations. (Just be sure to focus on the veggies, and top it off with protein for a more filling snack!)
Simply stock up on frozen fruit (or freeze fresh fruit yourself if you’re so inclined), and keep the fridge and pantry stocked with ingredients like washed spinach and kale, hemp seeds, chia seeds, hemp protein powder, coconut milk, almond milk, etc.
This insulated thermos is leak-proof way to carry your smoothie in your bag (and it keeps it cold!). Make blender clean-up a breeze with this fancy trick: Immediately after pouring your smoothie, fill the blender halfway with hot water, a squirt of dish soap and a dash or two of salt. Blend for 5-10 seconds and rinse!
Make power balls
For a quick snack that gives you energy and endurance and doesn’t require refrigeration, make a batch of power balls. Keep a stash at home for snacking needs and take a bunch to work for a quick pick-me-up (and alternative to the vending machine!). We curate power ball recipes on our Healthy Snack Recipes Pinterest board.
FOUR WELLNESS TIP
Prep next week’s menu and grocery list for simple healthy eating (use the Healthy Meal Planning Workbook to help if you’d like!).
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