Meal Planning and Prepping for Busy Schedules
With our never ending to-do lists, there’s always something that needs to be done. With busy schedules, sometimes having healthy food takes a backseat. But that does not have to be the case.
Planning your meals ahead can help you:
– make healthier food choices and have balanced meals,
– reduce food waste so that you use up what you have,
– save money so that you buy only what you need,
– save time so that you can focus on doing what you do best.
Here are some simple meal planning and prepping tips we have for you.
1. Menu Planning
What do you wish to have for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner in the week ahead? Make a (realistic!) list of dishes that you wish to eat and have the time to prepare. Are there some new dishes from different cuisines that you want to cook? Look for recipes and make note of ingredients that you have at home, and the ones you will need to buy. Look for one pot meals and some go-to recipes that you can put together in 30 minutes.
2. Shopping List
Check the inventory in your kitchen pantry, snack cabinet, refrigerator, and make a shopping list before your next grocery trip. It will be easier to stay on track and buy what you need when you have the items on your list that you can check off. If there are some ingredients that will be used for multiple dishes, then you know what you need to buy more of.
P.S.: Remember to eat before you go grocery shopping, because hunger results in impulsive buying!
3. Weekly Prep
Looking at your schedule, pick a day or time of the week that works best for you when you can have some time on your hands to batch prep. If you make an onion-garlic-ginger-tomato base for one curry, make some extra portions and refrigerate in air-tight containers to use later. If you are chopping some vegetables for a dish, chop a little extra that you can use in a few days for another one. This makes the cooking and cleanup process faster during the busy times of the week.
In order to eat healthier on a daily basis during the busy hours, have some healthy snacks in your kitchen that you can access when you are in a hurry. Some good options are:
- Nuts and seeds (cashew nuts, roasted & salted pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc)
- Protein bars
- Veggies (such as cucumber, celery, carrot, cherry tomatoes) & dips (tzatziki, cream cheese, hummus, guacamole,
- Fruits with nut butters
- Yogurt (have it with granola, berries & honey)
While meal planning can be done a day or even a week ahead, you can be as flexible as you wish and make adjustments as you need. If you miss a day of meal prep, re-assign the tasks to another day. When you find recipes that work for you, make a note in a book so that it reduces your mental load and saves time later. Wash the produce, chop and store in glass containers, or buy pre-washed, pre-cut veggies and fruits. Try a variety of combinations with the foods while keeping it simple. In the end, do what works best for you in the time you have on hand!