You asked so I am delivering - the magic secrets behind my amazing meal prep!
There are no magic secrets or amazing meal preps.
There’s just me recognizing what serves me and my goals and finding a way to make it happen that suits my personality and lifestyle.
Here’s the REAL secret - I don’t love meal prep!
But what I DO love is setting myself up to be my most successful. And what we put into our bodies with either help or hinder us in ALL areas of our lives.
Proper nutrition is the difference between:
- Brain fog and mental alertness.
- Rising to the occasion or succumbing to the daily pressures
- Responding in anger or responding in patience
- Sustained energy throughout the day or a full-on crash in the afternoon
- Building healthy cells or starving my body of nutrients
- Supported mental health or allowing my mental illness to go off track
As I have discovered the power of food - and the impact of a lack of real nutrition - I have
been more dedicated to ensuring that my family and I are eating in a way that allows us to show up our best.
And can I tell you the journey to that - and staying on course - has been dang hard.
I did not grow up in a household that was educated in the area of health and nutrition. I grew up when convenience foods were making their debut and quick to plate processed meals were the norm.
Add to that the fact that I am NOT a planner or recipe follower by nature, meal planning and prepping were honest to God foreign concepts.
I have literally had to train myself in the art of meal prepping simply by deciding to do it each week. It’s evolved and morphed as I discovered what works for me and what doesn’t; but it is a discipline that requires consistency and dedication.
And in time - it can be quick and fun. I promise.
To get us started let's first talk about what meal planning is NOT:
- A big tabbed binder with a full month of meals (unless that is your jam)
- Entirely home cooked and from scratch. God help us all if it were.
- Just for families of four or more
- Expensive. When done well, this practice will save you money. You’ll see!
- A lot of work: Not true. You do a bit of concentrated work up front, but it's smooth sailing once you begin to work your plan.
- Inflexible: There's so much room for experimentation, quick revisions, and customization in meal planning. It's not set in stone.
For me, meal planning is about … well, being prepared! We all know that saying right? Fail to plan, plan to fail. It totally rings true!
When I first started to integrate meal prep into my life it felt HARD. Like literally it felt like my brain would explode.
I’d spend time going through recipes, matching ingredients for efficiency, crafting a grocery list, shopping and then following a bunch of recipes and portioning everything out.
That’s a great way to meal plan and prep and it works well for so many people.
But to tell you the truth - it didn’t work well for me. Maybe it’s my bipolar brain, who knows, but digging through recipe books, constrained to a specific meal type and fancier than me ingredients was just TOO much.
I’d get overwhelmed on the regular. And that's NOT what meal planning is supposed to be about.
It’s supposed to decrease your stress while increasing the abundance of nutrient dense foods in your life.
So I found a better way. A better for ME way.
It’s simple. I call it my 3x5 Method.
3 choices in each of the 5 major categories: Vegetables, Fruit, Protein, Carbs and Healthy Fats.
That’s it. That’s my secret. 3x5.
It translates to a grocery list that looks like this (for example, I change it up week over week based on what’s in season, what’s on sale and what social engagements I may have).
Grocery List Sample:
- Vegetables (okay, I tend to throw in a little extra here because it’s a staple) - cucumbers, carrots, peppers, spinach, broccoli, squash
- Fruit - grapes, apples, bananas
- Protein - ground turkey, chicken breasts, salmon
- Carbs - quinoa, oats, sweet potato
- Healthy Fats - avocado, nuts, coconut oil
Now, how many of us know it’s not just about buying the right foods? We actually have to prepare them and break down the barriers that prevents the good stuff from being our first choice.
Because in the past, I bought the good stuff. I also threw the good stuff out as it sat in my fridge unused.
So the key here is actually preparing the food so it’s as close as possible to being in its consumable state.
Block 1.5-2 hours, and trust me when I say doing this is a time saver. If you were to audit your time and energy (and stress!) during the week of making multiple trips to the grocery store, cooking every night, ordering take out …. Putting aside this valuable time once a week will be a gift to yourself.
Turn on some music, brew a pot of coffee, and get to work.
I start with cleaning and chopping all my veggies. Putting my raw veggies in containers designed to get the max freshness out of produce and cooking the rest. My go to favourite method of preparing my veggies is roasting them with a little olive oil, garlic and rosemary.
Then I turn my attention to my protein. Don’t worry about getting bored of chicken or turkey when you have a cornucopia of spices at your disposal to mix things up a bit! Spicy fajita, sun dried tomato, greek lemon - the world is literally at your fingertips.
I store all prepped food in clear containers and utilize the buffet style method (keeping the appropriate portion sizes top of mind) of mixing and matching my food groups to create a well balanced plate.
And there you have it. My meal prep hack. The 3x5 method.
I told you it was simple.
But here’s the thing - the things that are simple to do, are also simple not to do.
You have to make a commitment to yourself - your health, your finances, your overall well being - to make meal prep a routine in your life.
And if you’re like me, you’ll have to play around with it a bit to find the best method that works for you.
So, who’s meal prepping with me this Sunday?!?!?
(Check out this amazing sheet pan meal from The Girl on Bloor that is EXCELLENT for meal prepping)