How many times have you stopped short of making a big salad because the thought of digging out all the ingredients, washing, cutting and prepping them just seemed like too much work? Ever thrown out produce purchased with the best of intentions, only to find it hasn’t been touched by the end of the week?
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can be overwhelming. In our fast-paced world the to-do lists seem to grow longer each day and many people are left wondering how they can possibly fit one more thing into their already hectic routine. We squish so many things into our schedules that meals are often an afterthought and pushed to the bottom of the priority list. We need to change this.
As the rates of diet-related diseases continue to sky rocket, getting into the kitchen and reacquainted with our food is increasingly important. Our food is what fuels our body and keeps it functioning optimally. If we don’t have healthy food readily available to us, it’s much easier to opt for a less than healthy option. Setting aside non-negotiable meal prep time each week is one of the best tips we give clients trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Putting thought into what you’ll eat throughout the week prior to grocery shopping and then prepping food in advance is key to staying on track. It may seem inconvenient at the time, but it’s guaranteed to save you time spent in the kitchen throughout the week. Weekly food prep also means you’re more likely to use everything you buy.
By the end of the week our fridge looks nearly empty because we purchase and prep exactly what we need – there’s very little waste and whatever is left over can be used to make juice or soup stock. This saves money, eliminates unnecessary waste and helps to ensure you’re using up every last bit of produce (especially important if spending money on organic!)
Prepping and storing produce properly will help it stay fresher for longer. Mason jars have become very trendy in recent years and are growing in popularity (for good reason). They are available in different sizes and make a great tool for weekly meal prepping.
Below are some of the the things we set time aside to do after shopping each week:
- Fill the sink with warm water and place all produce in to wash (we make up a produce spray using apple cider vinegar, lemon essential oil and water.)
- After washing, cut and prep produce so it’s ready to eat. Store clean veggies in containers or mason jars to keep them fresh. For greens, place a paper towel in the bottom of the jar to absorb any excess water from washing. Carrots, beets, squash and sweet potatoes can be stored in containers filled with water which helps to keep them fresh and crisp.
- Prep daily mason jar salads for lunches. Start by placing the dressing at the bottom, then add the ingredients from heaviest to the lightest and top with salad greens. On the day you plan to eat the salad, add any avocado, eggs or other proteins that tend to get soggy and shake the jar to coat ingredients with the dressing at the bottom.Most salads will keep in jars for up to 5 days.
- Prep dry smoothie ingredients and store in mason jars in the fridge. In the morning all you need to do is dump the contents into the blender, add your liquid and blend.
- Juice lemons and limes – many recipes call for the juice of these citrus fruits, so juicing them in advance can help increase the amount you use these vitamin C powerhouses. (1 tbsp of lemon juice is usually the equivalent of about half a lemon.)
- Make a big batch of salad dressing – conventional salad dressings can be loaded with unhealthy fats, preservatives and other questionable ingredients. Making your own salad dressing is easy, tastes great and is perfect for adding some variety to your diet each week.
- Some people opt to measure out and prep the ingredients exactly as they’re needed for each recipe throughout the week. Ingredients are then stored in baggies or containers so that cooking/assembling the dish is the only step remaining.
Whether prepping the components for each meal entirely or simply washing and prepping produce after buying it, find the method that works best for you and stick with it. Once it becomes a part of your routine you’ll wonder how you ever went without doing it – you’ll incorporate more veggies into your diet, save money and have much less waste at the end of the week. The key to success is planning ahead!