Meal Planning and Prepping 101

We’re 8 days into the October Nutrition Challenge and I wanted to share some tips on meal planning or prepping. Let’s dig right into it, shall we?

Meal Planning and Prep

You can make a big dent in your fruit and veggie servings with breakfast and lunch. The problem I hear from most people is time. You’re grabbing a bar or a bagel as you run out the door and lunch is a bowl of leftover pasta or a sandwich from the Deli.

I’ve put together a very simple way to prepare your breakfast or lunches. They begin with a make-ahead base and have suggested variations to make them nutritious, and filing. Here are two examples:

  • Breakfast – Prepare 3 or 4 jars of plain overnight oats (to a glass container, add your choice of milk, oats, chia seeds, a splash of vanilla, and a tablespoon of maple syrup).
    • Monday: Top your oats with a cup of berries, a sliced banana, and nuts.
    • Tuesday: Top with yogurt, a chopped apple, two chopped dates, and walnuts. Same base, different toppings!
  • Lunch – Prepare a very, very large salad (arugula, lettuces, sliced carrots, red bell pepper, chopped basil or cilantro, chopped and de-seeded cucumber, and tomato. When you pack your lunch for work, put a generous portion of salad in a container.
    • Monday: Add black beans and tofu or chicken, brown rice, chopped avocado, salsa, and some crumbled tortilla chips for crunch. Dress with your favorite salad dressing.
    • Tuesday: Add tofu or salmon, Brown rice, crumble up some Nori sheets, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and top with avocado. Dress with your favorite salad dressing.

Dinner is a bit trickier. You’re probably cooking for your family and planning meal time around sports or other activities. I find that taking 10-15 minutes to plan out the week’s dinner ahead of time is so helpful

Here’s an easy way to menu plan and take care of your shopping list at the same time. Take a piece of paper and fold it in half, then in thirds. Open it, and you have 6 squares. Each square represents a day of the week and on the 6th square, divide it in half for Sat/Sun.

Because our goal this month is to load up on the fruits and veggies, start planning the side dishes FIRST (veggies, salads, etc.), and then figure out the main dish. Here’s a sample:

  • Monday: Roasted pan of veggies (zucchini, summer squash, cherry tomatoes, onion, and seasonings), Greek Salad with chickpeas and tofu (tofu on the side since my family is not a fan), and BBQ chicken thighs (for the meat eaters.)
  • Tuesday: Southwest Salad (romaine, corn, chopped cooked red potatoes, cilantro, black beans, chopped green onion, red onion, avocado), Air-Fried Cauliflower, seasoned with cumin and Tumeric, Tacos (I make ground beef and Tofu crumbles to cover all bases), and Veggies to top the tacos (chopped lettuce, sliced onions, radishes), Brown Rice, Hot sauce.
  • Wednesday: Leftovers

Continue until you’re done for the week. Next, turn your paper over and make your grocery list based on what you’ll be making. Be sure to add in what you’ll need for your family’s breakfasts, lunches, snacks, etc.

Pro Shopping Tip: If you can afford it, grab bagged lettuce and salads, pre-chopped veggies, and pre-cut pineapple or watermelon. They will save you so much time! In the frozen aisle, stock up on spinach, kale, hash browns, mixed veggies, broccoli, corn, cherries, mixed berries, and green smoothie mixes.

Ok, let’s review.

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Plan
  3. Be Plant Forward

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

PS – It’s not too late to join a delicious challenge! Read more about it here!

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