The holidays are approaching and in between the endless supply of treats at your office, celebrations with your framily and the many treats that fall in our laps, it’s hard to stay healthy- let alone worry about cooking!
Lucky for you we have one thing that will help set you up for success during the holidays, and it’s meal planning!
Meal planning is a way of organizing your meals (in your head, on paper, in your calendar, whatever works for you) to best prepare you for the week ahead. Before we get into our tips, let’s quickly list why we meal prep. Meal planning:
- Saves you time. Cooking your meals ahead saves you time in the kitchen, time waiting in line buying food and let’s you have more time to do things you love during the holidays.
- Saves you money. By planning your meals you can save money for more important things like dinner with friends, or presents for yourself #treatyoself.
- Ensures you eat nutritiously through the day!
Most meals and snacks can be planned and prepared in advance and we want to help you become a pro.
So how do you get started? We’ve broken meal planning down to 5 easy steps to help you get going.
- Think about the week ahead.
No one knows your schedule more than you, so ask yourself. Self? Are there any upcoming events, that I know I’ll be indulging in? It’s the holidays so the answer is yes! Add those events to your week so you can plan around it.
Now that you know what’s coming up in the week ahead think about your week, how it runs, what meals you typically eat and don’t forget to include the snacks. Once you’ve gotten a grasp of your typical week it’s time to plan. What meals can you make ahead of time, what meals can you skip because you’re meeting your friends for dinner after work?
We like to use this handy guide from choosemyplate.gov to help us plan our meals. Start by filling in the meals you will eat from events, like the office party or the friendsgiving dinner, and the meals you will be able to prepare. Don’t forget to include meals that you will eat as leftovers.
Since it’s the holidays you might end up preparing just breakfast and lunch, maybe you’ll only do breakfast, or maybe you’ll do it all.
It’s really up to you and your life. Meal planning should work for you, not against you!
2. Make a list
She’s making a list, she’s checking it twice, she’s gonna find out what meals she needs to prep. But seriously make your list, write down everything you need for all your meals don’t forget spices and herbs. Once you’ve made your list check your fridge and your cabinets to make sure you don’t already have the ingredients. Check your list again to adjust for the things that you need against the things you have.
If you’re a super planner like us you can even organize your list by food groups, or the layout of your supermarket. Speaking of supermarket…
It’s time to pause from the holiday shopping and start the food shopping. Head to the supermarket and check out the circulars. If you shop at a chain supermarket download the app for more sales and coupons. If you use a food delivery service such as Peapod or Instacart then place your orders and choose a delivery time that’s going to leave you with time to prep.
Try not to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, eat a meal or grab a snack before you go in to avoid unnecessary purchases ($$$) and remember to stick to the list ($$$)!
4. Prep time!
Now it’s time to get in the kitchen. Take everything out of the bags, wash your produce and let’s get to work!
Working with your meal list decide what you’re going to prep first. I like to season all my proteins as soon as I get home. After seasoning I either cook as needed for the week ahead, or I throw it in the freezer knowing that I can take it out and cook it when it’s time.
After I season all the proteins I start with the grains, cooking as much as I need for the week or a few days. This could be something like cooking 2 cups of brown rice to make 4 portions or soaking your oats for overnight oats.
While the grains cook I prepare my veggies, snacks, and other desayunos.
5. Pack it up
Everything is washed, seasoned, chopped and cooked. Now it’s time to put it away. Depending on your life you might want to package everything individually so all you have to do it grab it and go or you might want to throw everything in one big container and serve as needed. Find what works best for you and do that!
You’ve done it! Look back at your success and be proud of yourself knowing that you can enjoy the holidays without throwing your whole life off course.
For recipe ideas check out our last post, meal prep recipes to try. Let us know if you give meal planning a try during the holidays and what are some of your favorite meals to prepare in advance.
Remember it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. Now ponte las pilas y entra a la cocina!