“I thought I’d have more time to grocery shop, but I didn’t. I guess I’ll just grab a pizza on the way home, okay?”
Sound familiar? Our lives are busy and unpredictable. Without proper planning and preparation, you are bound to make poor food choices throughout the week. Here are 5 super simple steps to plan and prepare your entire week in no time.
1. Make Your Menu
First things first. You need a meal plan. I like to look at the week and figure out what days are most hectic and when we will all be home for dinner. Once I’ve figured that out, I’ll plan our dinners for the week accordingly. I will mix up which days we eat chicken or beef or go vegetarian. Based on that, I can use some of those leftovers as the next days’ lunches and fill the rest in as I go.
Tip: Plan to use your leftovers. If I make marinara sauce on Monday, I’ll include the remaining sauce in another recipe later in the week. This prevents throwing away leftovers and money.
2. Cook 2-3 Days Ahead of Time
Now that you have your meal plan, you can go ahead and buy and pre-cook as much of your week as you can. You may want to prep all the sides for the week and cook just 2-3 days of meat since that won’t keep as long in the refrigerator. You can cook the rest on Wednesday.
Tip: Don’t go to the food store hungry. Go prepared with your list based on the week’s menu and stick to it. No impulse buying! This will help both your waistline and your wallet.
3. Have a Salad on Hand
I always have a big salad prepped in the fridge. You forgot to buy a key ingredient for today’s lunch? No worries! Grab your salad and throw some leftover chicken on it, top it with tuna, or add egg salad. It’s a great back up plan.
Tip: Your salad will be in the fridge for a couple days, so don’t add things like croutons or dressing yet. Everything will get soggy. Go ahead and throw your crunchy ingredients in a ziplock bag and lay it on top of the salad for quick access the day of.
4. Pre-Package Your Smoothies
This was one of the best things I ever did for myself! It is such an easy way to set yourself up for success each week. Simply take all your ingredients (fruits, greens, healthy fat and protein powder) and place them in a ziplock bag or a glass tupperware. When you’re in a bind or running out the door, just grab it out of the freezer, add water and blend. Bam! Nutritious meal in no time! This makes for a great breakfast option.
5. Don’t Forget About Snacks!
This is what gets me. All. The. Time. I plan all my meals out and then, all of a sudden, I’m starving and my next meal isn’t for over an hour. I need a snack. But what? I scour the fridge. All that food is spoken for in my meals for the week, I look in the cabinets. Nothing healthy really comes out of there. I inevitably end up eating something I regret before I even unwrap it. All that planning and I forgot my snacks.
Planning your snacks is crucial to keeping you on track. Easy things like hardboiled eggs, greek yogurt, and apple slices with nut butter or hummus are perfect go-to snacks to keep around.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
The key to living a healthy lifestyle is planning and preparation. No matter how much willpower you may have, it is still difficult to stay on track if you just leave it up to chance and try to wing it. Whether you are trying to lose weight, cut down on carbs or just live a healthier life, it’s always best to be prepared.
Always have a snack on hand in case you get in a jam and you’re really hungry. I am notorious for pulling a plethora of snacks out of my purse when I am stuck in traffic or delayed at the airport or just unexpectedly hungry.
A little extra time on the weekend planning things out will save you a lot of time- and stress- the entire week ahead!
Sandy Eulas is a certified health coach with 9 years of experience in the health and fitness industry. She is the owner of WellnessWildflower.com, a blog dedicated to using her expertise and personal experiences to empower others to lead an informed and healthy lifestyle through simple and easy steps.