Thursday, August 6, 2015

Teacher Meal Prep 101: Pre-Planning

I am by no means an expert on this topic but others were looking to get started so I thought I would summarize what I do and what has worked for me. Meal prepping is one of the best things I did last year for my sanity. I don't know how people manage to eat decently without it. In the morning I am rushing off to work and taking time to make lunch is a disincentive to eating well and at night I'm way too exhausted to cook a healthy meal.

Last year I started meal prepping pretty regularly. I found that by taking a couple hours (including grocery shopping) on my Sundays to prep meals for the week I ate better, wasted less, saved money, and actually ate my meals.

A couple background things for me:
- I'm only prepping for one person
- I'm eating gluten-free per my doctor. If you can include gluten then obviously that drastically changes what you can add in, but I've found I don't even miss it when I get in the groove.
- Currently I do a meal replacement, protein shake for breakfast. It is fast, easy, I always eat it and I don't need anything else before lunch which is a huge factor for me.

Here are some of the things I've found are helpful before you get started:
1. Invest in a lot of tupperware of various sizes and compartments. I personally love my green boxes as they really do keep food fresh longer which is important when prepping ahead. I have some like the ones linked as well as larger containers
2. Make some lists. I have one list with foods I am trying to include that are my "building blocks" as well as a list of go-to recipes and ideas to combine them.I keep the list in my planner for on-the-go planning

3. Try to come up with a routine. I usually go to the grocery store Sundays around 1 and then meal prep as soon as I get home from the store.

4. Buy things you will use frequently in bulk. My list is: frozen strawberries, frozen broccoli, eggs, cheese, gluten free pasta, instant rice, canned tomatoes. Having some of these staples on hand helps with making things on the spur of the moment if I don't have time to go to the store that week or plans get cancelled and I need another dinner meal.

5. Give yourself a break. Sometimes I don't actually "prep" my food at home - I just take all the piece-y parts to work. Something is better than nothing. I'm still eating better and cheaper than frozen entrees if I throw everything in a bag and stick it in the fridge at work.

Stay tuned for the rest of the series!

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