There’s nothing worse than getting home from a long day of work and being asked “what’s for dinner”. The dreaded question after a long day can induce anxiety about food and test your sanity. I know for many of our clients, in the past they have felt like food was a source of stress but as it turns out, it actually was because they didn’t know where to start. They were confused about what to eat and how to even prepare food in advance. Meal prepping can create so many advantages not only to your sanity but also for your gut health. By taking the time to prep some simple ingredients at the beginning of the week (or whenever it is convenient for you), you can save a lot of time and prevent yourself from getting in the “what’s for dinner” situations.
Below are some tips to help guide you…
Meal Prepping Strategies: Meal prep can make meal planning and cooking for the week less stressful. On Monday we may feel ambitious and ready to take on the kitchen, but as our weeks go on, many times the last thing we want to think about after a long day of working, attending class, or taking care of the kiddos is cooking. Below are some attainable steps that we highly recommend to get started on a new journey in the kitchen – or to even refine the skills you already have!
- Instead of following a recipe, prepare a sheet pan of roasted veggies and protein (chop them all the same size, and roast with avocado or olive oil, salt and pepper at 425 for approx 25 minutes)
- While your veggies are roasting get your cooktop going with a grain of choice (ex: quinoa)
- Utilize your oven or your instant pot to prep a protein (ex: chicken, fish, beef, tofu, etc)
Set attainable SMART Goals to get started! Go big or go home does NOT apply to meal prep. Pick small items to start with, like preparing breakfast the evening before, or the side dishes of dinners. It does not need to be an all or nothing mentality – you can escalate to bigger projects over time as you grow more comfortable. Furthermore, actually writing down the goals and accomplishments at the start and end of each week can greatly help you transition from pure motivation to daily an integrated habit.
Some quick and easy breakfasts that you could start with include:
Create Variety: Sometimes when we hear the word “variety” it can cause us to become anxious and feel like we have to come up with all new recipes every couple of days, but in reality, you can keep the same recipe and just swap what you put into it to add variety. For example, if you’re making smoothies, perhaps Monday through Wednesday the fruit(s) you use are mixed berries, and Thursday through Saturday you use mango and pineapple. For your greens, Monday through Wednesday focus on spinach, and Thursday to Saturday use kale.
Other ways to add variety:
- Switch up your sauces (use hummus, fun dressings, dips, etc)
- Top your salads with a variety of nuts
- Add some fermented flavor on your meal (ex: kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled beets, etc)
Poke fun at the Mistakes: Sometimes trying new things may turn out nothing short of disastrous. One time I added sugar instead of flour into a cake recipe and it was quite frightening, however, I will now NEVER make this mistake again! When trying new recipes, start with cooking for just yourself or your family to take a bit of the pressure off. Once it is mastered and you grow more comfortable, then you can expand it out and share with friends and acquaintances. At the very least, one bad meal will give you good laughs as long as you can order delivery from somewhere else ASAP.
This article was written by gutTogether Health Coach Samantha Kane