Some of you read the words “meal prep” and feel instantly overwhelmed.
Where do you even start?
Do I even need to meal prep?
I have zero time as it is…do you really expect me to cook for six hours every weekend?
I hear you. My relationship with meal prep has been through many ups and downs. The way I feed myself has looked very different from each year to the next, and I am anticipating that it will continue to evolve as my life changes.
When Mike and I were living in Colorado. I worked part-time at Starbucks and had little other responsibility. We had very little money (my mom calls times like these “rice and beans seasons”), so cooking at home and planning every meal was not just important, it was absolutely necessary.
Since I had lots of time and little money, I planned, shopped for, and cooked all of our lunches for the week every Sunday. I went way overboard. I enjoy cooking most of the time, so I found some pretty time-consuming recipes and spent all day in the kitchen every Sunday.
It was a stage of my life where I had the time (and capacity) to spend all day Sunday’s doing this. Then, I decided to go back to school.
I wanted to finish my last two-ish years of school in the shortest amount of time possible. I still worked part-time, and we had just brought home two 7-week-old puppies. I loaded up my school schedule and found myself more pressed for time than I had ever been (not to mention tired).
During this time, the biggest priority for me, in terms of food, was just making sure there was always something quick and nourishing ready for me when I needed it. I was busier than when we lived in Colorado, so I simplified things. I found recipes that were easy to prepare, as I didn’t have as much time on Sunday’s to cook, but I still knew the importance of cooking our meals and being prepared.
Currently, I am in a season where my time is more balanced, and we aren’t scraping to save every extra penny we make. I cook all my lunches and breakfasts over the weekend, and it never takes more than two hours, start to finish (cleanup included).
There are always going to be different seasons. Through the different seasons, I have come up with three helpful guidelines for myself that I will continue to use in all future ebbs and flows of life:
1. COOK WHAT YOU WILL ACTUALLY EAT AND WHAT MAKES YOU FEEL THE BEST:
The best meal prep plan for you is the one you’ll enjoy and actually stick with, not the one that will make you “Drop 10 Pounds in 2 Weeks” or whatever the latest line is.
2. DON’T EXPECT EVERY SEASON TO LOOK THE SAME:
Some years you’ll have more time; some years you’ll have more money. You might have seasons where you can spend all day Sunday’s prepping for the week. You might have seasons where getting to the grocery store on Sunday is all you can do. Know what is most important to you and keep that at the forefront. But make sure you have a plan for your current season. Having access to nourishing food throughout the week takes being intentional. It doesn’t happen by chance.
3. WHEN IN DOUBT, PRIORITIZE MORE PROTEIN, LESS SUGAR, AND LOTS OF WATER:
Most weeks, these are the only things I think about with my meals. There are times that tracking every macro is so helpful, but for most seasons you can turn your focus to increasing protein, decreasing sugar, and getting lots of water, and you’ll start to feel better than you might expect.
So, here is my challenge: recognize the season that you are currently in, and come up with a plan for what meal prep might look like for you. It might not be what works best for everyone else, but it’s important to find what is best for YOU. Whatever that looks like, I hope you can use the information here to learn how to nourish your body, value your priorities, and pursue your goals.