Are you eating real, whole food as much as you’d like? Do you think that eating whole foods requires a large budget because the cost of healthy is much higher than the cost of easy? A study published in 2016 actually showed that people perceive high cost foods as being the most healthful of foods. Apparently we correlate monetary value with health value.
I have found that the best possible way to live a healthy lifestyle and have healthy and delicious meals all week long is by meal planning, being mindful of reducing food waste by making only what I truly intend to eat, and shopping wisely.
Having a plan saves time, money, and stress all the while staying on track with eating healthy.
STEP 1: PLAN & SHOP
I begin meal planning by making a list of recipes and meals for the upcoming week. I create a list based on what I will have for breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners. I use a weekly shopping list as my guide and then I’m off to the store!
If this step alone overwhelms you, this is where my meal plans come in! I have done all the work for you. I break down all my plans into recipes, shopping lists, and even meal prep ideas for each week, based on the servings you need! This option will be returning to my site in Summer 2019 - so stay tuned!
I also have spent some time recently comparing prices for quality foods at my local grocers. I have found that Aldi foods actually has an amazing selection of organic and whole foods for much less than the next budget-minded grocery store, and a fraction of the cost of Whole Foods. I think we as a culture tend to be extremely label aware, so when we see things that are "off brand" we tend to assume they are poor quality or cheap knock-offs. In reality - much of the off-brand products are just as high quality as name brand, if not the EXACT SAME PRODUCT just repackaged. Marketing comes at a cost - and we the consumers pay for the brand awareness we crave!
Next time you are heading out to grab groceries - pop into an Aldi if they are local to you and see for yourself the savings.
STEP 2: PREPARE THE FOOD
When I get home from the store I keep out the items I plan to use for my meal prep. I pull up my meal plans and get to washing and cooking! Throughout the week, I typically have a protein shake, slow cooked steel cut oats, or fat free plain Greek style yogurt with granola and blueberries for breakfast, but I find that many of my breakfast recipes are great for mid-morning snacks, and/or if I am in need of a breakfast on-the-go. Check out my Food Formularies page for my Steel Cut Oat recipe that is a must this winter!
I generally prepare big batches of veggies. I start with washing the greens, then set aside to dry and move onto slicing, dicing, and dividing veggies into containers for use in cooking and salads. I also find that spending a little more for pre-cut veggies is a huge meal prep time saver for me.
When a recipe calls for sautéed chicken or lean protein, I cook it in big batches in my biggest pan or crock pot, that way I am only prepping chicken and/or lean meat once for all the recipes. I also will buy a rotisserie chicken or pre-cooked proteins to save time. I store the extra chicken in the freezer for use later.
STEP 3: PUT EVERYTHING TOGETHER TO MAKE THE RECIPES
To keep it simple, I make a large salad in advance and then add the extras when I’m ready to eat it. If I’m taking it to go, I divide it into containers or use as leftovers.
For dinners, I typically make two favorite main dishes, which allows me to prepare and freeze in advance making it easy for during the week.
STEP 4: PUT IT ALL AWAY!
After all the food is prepped and the recipes are made, I put everything in containers and place it in the fridge. Now I have delicious, fresh, whole foods for all meals during the week in minutes.
If you are still scratching your head, don’t let it discourage you! It can take time to learn and get in the swing of things.
My best advice - keep it simple. Have a few recipes that you keep in rotation that you have the ingredients on hand for in a pinch. I always have the makings for Chili Verde,Pasta and Sauce, and Tacos ready for any time I am in a pinch.
functional nutritionist, health coach, and lighter of paths.