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Meal Prep for Beginners

I think my husband and I are a pretty typical couple. We both work full time. He has one of those fun retail schedules that include 10-hour days while I work a set schedule with set days off. Set schedules are great if you come home every day and have all that free time until you go to bed. Who lives that life? I’m usually changing in the bathroom at work to head to roller derby practice. The nights I don’t have practice, I’m working on committee work or answering emails for my neighborhood’s HOA. I often found myself eating dinner at 9 p.m. That dinner was usually a box of something or a frozen pizza. I tried menu planning. We stuck to it about half the time and the other half was filled with excuses like being too tired to cook, not thawing out the meat or having that tri-weekly pizza craving. Worst yet were the nights Chris worked late and I got home from practice late. Taco Bell anyone?

I knew we both needed a change in our diet. In our health period. I was struggling with my workouts at practice and Chris, well, I’m not sure he knows what a workout is. Our willpower was gone and our bank account dwindling from fast food purchases. I had enough.

So I eased myself into the clean eating meal prep world. My first two weeks of meal preps were just lunch. I cooked up a huge batch of brown rice and quinoa. I made chicken and beef as proteins and mixed them in. I started to prepackage snacks. I made packing our lunch fool proof. Starting with just lunch also gave me a chance to get the fridge and pantry emptied out. I didn’t want to jump into a diet and waste food which is wasting money. I created a dinner menu based on the things we had on hand.

Then I jumped into full-on meal prep. Thankfully I had some help. A friend of mine started a clean eating challenge group on Facebook. She even shared the plan, schedule and recipes for the week. I loosely followed it as I was still trying to use what we already had. The following week, I took her plan and spent four hours on a Sunday afternoon cooking and labeling plastic food containers. It was exhausting but paid off every day when I opened that fridge and knew exactly what I was eating.

I was proud of myself all week and mentally felt great. Physically was a little different. My body was so hungry. It craved fillers and sweets. I knew if I just pushed through, I’d be fine. Unfortunately, I spent a weekend at a derby tournament and sabotaged all my hard work. I even packed healthy food and instead ate chicken fingers and fries. The guilt quickly drove me back on track. Week two of full on meal prep was a little odd. I made so much food the first week and from lunch prep the week before that, that I had a freezer stocked with meals. So week two was leftovers week with fresh made healthy dinners.

The reason I am sharing this is to let you know it’s not easy. Life happens and you have to just learn how to make do. The first couple weeks will have cheats, mistakes, guilt…But it will also have successes and motivation. Rather than dismiss healthy eating because I was out of town for a weekend and didn’t have time to prep, I thought ahead and froze extra meals. In the future I’ll plan even better from lessons learned.

I’ll share my weekly plans, preps and tips. I will warn you ahead of time that I love food so the recipes I cook may be a little more involved than what the average meal prepper wants to get into. If I don’t keep variety and flavor, I know I will fail.

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Just a few of the leftovers that I froze. Meals for a second week!

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