Christmas is right around the corner and if you’re anything like me, you’re knee deep in Amazon packages, holiday parties and wrapping up work deadlines before taking time off. It’s not the easiest time to workout and eat healthy! Planning and prepping meals has been my saving grace during the holiday season so that I’m eating more than just the candy canes, boxed chocolate and homemade cookies we have at work. I’ve been meal prepping for over a year now, but I know how overwhelming it can be if you’re new to it! I put together some basic tips and tricks to make it as easy as possible for you. Balance out the sweets and sugar with some healthy, prepped meals!
Before we dive into Meal Planning 101, let’s talk the “holiday guilt.” This is a season of celebrating the birth of Jesus, enjoying time with family and giving. But all too often the focus turns to holiday weight gain and feeling guilty over the extra holiday treats. I have personally found that restricting myself from ANY treats leads to feeling deprived both food-wise and socially. And in most cases, it ends up in me overindulging on sweets later on! My advice for you this season is to enjoy things in moderation.
- Really ENJOY it when you eat it. Savor every bite and don’t feel bad about it!
- Don’t eat everything and anything just because it’s there, but if something looks good to you, go for it!
- Be mindful of when you’re full – you can always have it the next day.
- Balance out the sweets with nutritious food
- Stay hydrated
- Move a little every day. If you have a crazy week at work, don’t throw in the towel just because you can’t fit in your usual hour-long workouts. Squeeze a 30 minute walk or 20 minute bodyweight HIIT workout, or jump in to my 12 Days of Fitmas challenge.
Ok, now let’s talk Meal Prep.
Step 1: Look at your schedule for the upcoming week. (5 minutes)
What does your schedule look like? How about your partner’s, or your kid’s? My schedule for this week was the following:
Monday: dinner at home
Tuesday: work late, leftovers for dinner
Wednesday: Mo at holiday party, only need dinner for me
Thursday: work late, leftovers for dinner
Friday: out with friends
Now I know that I need to make two meals + enough for leftovers, and Mo will be gone one night.
Step 2: Look at the grocery ads* (10 minutes)
I rotate between grocery shopping at Trader Joes, Sprouts, and New Seasons Market. New Seasons Market is all local and fresh ingredients so it’s really important that I look at what’s on sale before going there… otherwise bye bye paycheck! Take a look at what you already have at home too – I had chicken in the freezer to use up so I factored that into my planning.
This week, I saw that 90%/10% ground beef, peeled and deveined shrimp, organic cauliflower, organic kale, organic carrots, organic celery, Banza protein pasta, Califia almond milk, and bone broth were all on sale, so I circled those to keep in mind when planning meals.
*If you shop somewhere like Trader Joes where prices are always decent and they don’t run sales then you can skip this step.
Step 3: Make a meal plan. (15-20 minutes)
After I know what’s on sale, I start looking for meals to plan. I’ll search ideas on Pinterest using those ingredients, flip through a few of my cookbooks, or look at posts I’ve saved on Instagram. Food bloggers… can I please just take a minute to say THANK YOU for your drool-worth posts and recipes.
Ground beef → chili
Shrimp → shrimp fajitas
BAM. Two meals are done. Now for my lunch…
Cauliflower + carrots + kale + bone broth + protein pasta → chicken noodle soup.
Breakfasts are usually overnight oats or avo toast + eggs. Snacks are typically raw veggies, fruit, bars (RX bars and Perfect bars are my current favorites), string cheese, smoothies, etc.
Step 4: Make a list. (10 minutes)
Now that you know what you’re making and what you’ll need, make a list so your grocery trip will be as quick and efficient as possible.
Step 5: Grocery shop. (30 minutes)
Don’t forget your list and stay focused! Sometimes I get distracted at how pretty the food is and stop to take a picture……
Scoring those sales!
And that’s it! The hardest part is over. If you have time on the weekend to cook your meet, chop your veggies (or buy them pre-chopped because nobody’s judging and IT’S WORTH EVERY EXTRA CENT), or make your 5 days of overnight oats, then go for it! I set aside 1-2 hours on Sunday to do this, which makes my life SO much easier throughout the week. But if you’re not quite there yet, then don’t worry. You’ll get there! Master the first 5 steps first and then you can tackle meal prep.
Last, but not least, I have some exciting news to share! As of January, I actually won’t have to prep my lunches for the week anymore… I accepted a job offer at LinkedIn and breakfast, lunch and dinners are provided for employees! I will be running wellness programs, personal training and teaching group fitness for LinkedIn employees. 2018 is already off to a great start!