Prep for Success


I'm sure that many of you have heard of doing "meal prep" before, but either you don't know why it could be helpful to you, or maybe it seems too daunting to try! I'm going to share with you some insight on how meal prep is practical and can help you stick to healthy eating habits (and a budget!), as well as easy ways to begin incorporating it into your weekly routine! 

First off, what is meal prep? Meal prep is simply preparing large batches of food ahead of time, in order to save time and planning throughout the week. We all know that Monday through Friday can get pretty hectic, whether you're a student, have a full-time job, kids, or maybe all of the above! 

Time is precious, and this is where we get in trouble. When we don't have healthy food and snacks at the ready, we grab something quick and convenient. This food often ends up being drive-thru food, loaded with fat, refined carbs and sugar, or processed food from a box that comes in convenient packaging for you to grab & go. 

When you meal prep, you are able to grab a Tupperware for lunch, some pre-packed snacks to hold you over between meals, and even an emergency dinner if you know you might be late at work or studying in the library! Here are some of my meal prep tips. 

How to get started: 

1)    Plan out your meals for the next week! If you know that you want to have for meals and snacks for the week, you can build your grocery shopping list right from your meal plan. This will save you money because you will cut down on impulse buys! Why buy anything that is not on your plan?

2)    Grains - Make a batch of grains that is versatile and can be used as a base to many dishes. My favorite is quinoa, but other good choices are brown rice, cous-cous, or farro.

3)    Vegetables - Cut 'em up, cook 'em up, season them, whatever you'd like! Do a whole bunch that you can use all week long. Great options would be raw vegetables cut-up to dip in hummus, sautéed or grilled peppers & onions, stir-fry vegetables, or edamame to snack on.

4)    Fruit - Fruit can be really simple, since you can just grab a banana or apple to go. However, you could always chop up fruit like pineapple, kiwi, and mango. You can also wash your fruit ahead, like berries and grapes.

5)    Protein - Cook your options ahead of time. My personal favorites are tofu and tempeh, but other options would be lean meats, and preparing beans and lentils. Try baking a pieces of chicken or browning a pound of ground turkey.

6)    Now throw it all together! Prep your meals the night before, or for a few days at a time. Throw together a grain with veggies and a protein - bam there's a meal! Or throw some spinach or lettuce together with a protein, beans, and extra veggies, there's a salad! Packing your lunch the night before will save you time and stress in the morning. Pre-package snacks in containers or zip lock bags that are easy to grab on your way to work or school. 

Do you have any meal prep tips you would like to share? Write them in the comment section below! 

Good luck! 

Sarah Lang is a graduate student in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program at Daemen College, and will graduate in May of 2016. She serves as a community chair for the Student Physical Therapy Association at Daemen College. She has a passion for healthy eating and fitness, and helping others learn how simple living a healthier life can be by making small changes. She became a health & fitness coach in August of 2014 to help her reach more people. As a vegan, Sarah is also passionate about introducing others to plant-based options in the local area, to benefit your health, the lives of animals, and the environment. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, hanging out with friends and her boyfriend, working out, travelling, and reading. She currently lives in Buffalo while attending college, but loves visiting her home, Rochester, NY, where her parents, two siblings, and golden doodle, Oliver, reside.

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