Healthy meals do not have to be hard work. They do not have to take hours in the kitchen, and they do not have to be boring. I promise! With a little planning and prepping, clean eating can be at your fingertips.
In order to eat healthy, you NEED to have a plan. It is so easy for us to get off track throughout the week. Ordering a pizza or heating up a frozen meal becomes very appealing after a long, tiring day. But, if you have a plan, you are much more likely to stick with it (especially if you have already prepped for it.)
When planning these meals, we must choose a combination of HEALTHY proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. All three are essential to a healthy lifestyle. So, let’s take a quick look at SOME examples of these foods…
PROTEIN: chicken breast/thighs, turkey breast, fish, lean beef, eggs, plain yogurt, beans, nuts
CARBOHYDRATES: fruits, vegetables, potatoes (any kind – NOT French fries though, I wish!), rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal
FATS: avocado, healthy oils (olive, avocado, coconut), nuts/nut butter, salmon
These are the types of foods you will want to plan all of your weekly meals around. As you can imagine, the combinations are endless.
Ok, so now we know what foods to eat, but how do we plan quick and easy meals with these foods?
*When I meal plan, I ALWAYS start with proteins. Pick 1-4 proteins you can use for multiple meals. I say 1-4 because it depends on how many days/meals for which you are planning ahead.
*Once you have chosen your proteins, create meals around them.
*Hint: choose meals that use the same carbohydrates and fats, AND ones you won’t mind eating a couple times a week. For example, you could use broccoli as a side to your grilled chicken breast and in a turkey stir-fry. Or, use sweet potatoes as a side to your chicken sausage and in a breakfast egg hash the following morning.
*MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER! Do not try and make things fancy. Simple can be just as satisfying for your tastebuds. To enhance flavor, make sure you use spices, clean dressing and marinades, etc. A little can go a long way!
Let me show you how I would do this… Here is a 3-day meal plan example:
My proteins of choice: grilled chicken, eggs, ground turkey, and chicken sausage (I use Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausages… SO good and SO clean!)
Breakfast: Chicken sausage and scrambled eggs with spinach, tomato, and avocado
Lunch: Grilled chicken salad with tomato, avocado, cucumber and a clean dressing
Dinner: Grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, and broccoli
Breakfast: Apple with almond butter
Lunch: Chicken Sausage with green beans and quinoa
Dinner: Ground turkey stir-fry
Breakfast: Sweet potato breakfast hash with spinach, tomato, and avocado – topped with over-medium eggs
Lunch: Leftover turkey stir-fry from dinner
Dinner: Chicken, quinoa, and broccoli (covered in coconut aminos – a soy sauce substitute)
*Each day would also consist of a snack or two (depending on my workout schedule). Snacks would be fruits, nuts, protein bars, plain Greek yogurt… things like that.
If you look closely at my meals, MANY of the ingredients repeat themselves. It is much easier to prep one big batch of broccoli each week as opposed to prepping broccoli, green beans, carrots, AND zucchini. That just sounds annoying.
Ok, you have your meals planned… Let’s prep!
Once you have your meals planned, prepping is actually pretty EASY, but it does require some extra time. Make sure you choose prepping methods you enjoy (or at least ones you don’t mind too much). Think… instant pot, stove, oven, grill, slow cooker, air fryer, etc.
If you are able to spare a couple hours one day, let’s say Sunday, then I highly suggest prepping everything at once. However, if this is not an option for you, or you just don’t want to, there are definitely other prepping methods. You could do an evening prep for the following day, or a morning prep for the same day. Choose what works for YOU!
I am going to share an example of what a Sunday meal prep would look like for me. Again, you do you… this is just an example.
MEAL PREP EXAMPLE:
*I would choose to do this on a Sunday, while my daughter is napping, while my husband and her have some daddy-daughter time, or often you can find her in the kitchen helping me!
*Prepping the protein: Coat chicken in olive oil, season with pepper, and place on grill. Put the chicken sausages on the grill with the chicken, just until they have some good grill marks. Finally, brown the ground turkey in a skillet on the stove. ALL THREE can be done at the SAME TIME! How easy is that?
*Prepping the veggies for stir-fry: In my meal plan example, I am making stir-fry for dinner one night. To prep, I cut up the carrots, broccoli, red peppers, and green beans into bite size pieces. Leave them raw, place them in separate containers or plastic baggies, and store in fridge until ready to dump into the stir-fry. (I cut the onion the night I make the stir-fry)
*Prepping the other veggies: On top of the stir-fry veggies, I need cooked broccoli and green beans for other meals. I use a steamer basket on the stove. I cut the veggies into the size pieces I want for my meals, place them in the steamer, and cook them about one minute less than perfection (they will cook a little when you reheat).
*Prepping the carbohydrates: I like to give my quinoa a little extra flavor by cooking it in chicken broth instead of water. This is done on the stove. I also need sweet potatoes for the week, but I would most likely cook those as needed. However, the sweet potatoes for the breakfast hash would be leftover from a previous dinner.
*Once everything is cooked and cooled, store the food in Tupperware containers. You can make your meals for the week, by putting each necessary item in one food container. (Ex: chicken sausage, green beans, and quinoa in one container) This means a quick grab-and-go lunch when you walk out the door. Or, you can put each food item in its’ own container and take what is needed at each meal.
*Everything else would be done when needed, such as cutting up avocado or tomatoes for eggs or a salad.
All of that prepping could be done in 1-2 hours, and the more practice you have the more efficient you become. If you are willing to put in a couple extra hours, your healthy meal dreams can easily be accomplished. You just have to stick with it and put in a little work!
Was this helpful? What meal plan and prep ideas do you have? Any questions? Let’s discuss in the comments below!