An apple on the go or a blood sugar crash solved by a quick piece of candy at a staff meeting. Healthy living with a busy lifestyle can be hard and results are not achieved by happenstance. It’s careful planning and scheduling of events and goals to help achieve those results. Meal prepping is the same for living a healthy lifestyle. The more time you take on the weekends to plan for the week, the easier healthy living can be. Below are excerpts written by our members about their outlook on healthy living. Some are goals, others recipes, or easy ingredients to make grocery shopping for a healthy week easier. Enjoy! -Allison
"Since I work 40+ hours a week outside of my home meal prep has become really important to my overall success to reach my fitness goals (whatever they may be) and overall well being. I find that prepping on Sunday works the best for me because it gives me Saturday to come up with a menu and then Sunday morning to grocery shop or have them delivered. I more often then not have them delivered now, which has an added bonus of saving me from impulse purchases. It usually takes me a couple of hours to prep my breakfast, lunch and snacks for the week. I'm going to be honest and say it is not my favorite thing to do but as the week starts being able to "grab and go" is awesome. No, thinking...and the less burden I put on myself during the busy week the more likely I am to stay on track. I also use that prep time to cut all the veggies, fruit, etc for my kids as well. They also will choose to eat "the good stuff" if it is ready and available to them. BONUS!" – Mickey E.
"I started doing meal prep/freezer meals years ago when I was a busy working mom with two young kids. Our family is committed to having dinner together despite our busy evening schedule. Getting meals prepped ahead of time helps us eat healthier, cuts down on eating out, and takes away the stress of the dreaded question- "What's for dinner tonight?!"
HyVee meal prep nights have become my favorite way to meal prep because the dietitians do all of the shopping, some prep & the mess is left at HyVee! We leave with 8 healthy meals and the full recipes- consider joining us in late August for our next meal prep night!" – Shannon S.
"As a stay at home mom, I cook almost all of our meals a week. That means breakfast, lunch and dinner for four people 6-7 days a week. Sometimes this can be a daunting task!! What I have found that works for us is, 1. I have a list of everyone's favorite meals 2. Each family member picks one dinner meal a week (they even get to either help or make that dinner!) keeping my family involved takes some of the pressure off of me to be creative all the time and also gets their attention and buy in to healthy food choices 3. Pinterest has become my best friend!!
I usually grocery shop on Sunday and prep for the week. Don't over complicate things either. We do things like a rotisserie chicken, a spiral ham, or some kind of roast. That way, we have easy grab and go options for lunches (or breakfast if you don't like breakfast foods)!! That being said, don't be afraid to do dinner food for breakfast or breakfast food for dinner!" –Julie B.
"I wouldn’t say that I meal prep as much as “make extras” when I do make meals. It makes it so easy then for family members to warm when they get home or grab to take to work without thinking about it." –Jacki F.
"Sunday’s are meal prep:
Cut up veggies for salads and snacks (2 different divided containers one for larger snack size and one for smaller salad size).
Cut up Berries
Mondays=Crockpot chicken for salads
Thursday=Fish/red meat and broiled veggies
Friday=Crockpot meat usually turkey or meatballs and salads
Not all weeks are exact.
The weekends are usually smoothies and eggs using up what we have." -Kari L.
"Meal prepping sucks. Who really wants to spend an hour or more cooking food that you’re not going to immediately sit down and eat? I spent a good amount of my healthy journey over the past four years avoiding meal prep. I essentially covered my ears, closed my eyes and screamed “Nananana!” every time someone tried to talk about meal prep or when I saw all these perfectly portioned out containers on social media.
However, after lots of kicking and screaming I’ve come to realize that failing to plan can be planning to fail. If you’re hungry, short on time and without something healthy planned, you leave yourself open to less healthy options. The alternatives are fast food, pizza, Chinese takeout, etc. or (and this is worse in my mind) skipping meals altogether.
So how do you avoid the torture of meal prep but still set yourself up for success? Here is a list I’ve compiled of some tips that have worked for me.
1. You don’t have to prep everything. Pick the meals you struggle with most and just prep those. For me it’s lunch. I’m fine with something quick like a smoothie or a bar for breakfast. Dinner is easier for me to prepare the night before. (Put everything in the crock pot the evening prior and put it in the fridge. Next day you just turn it on. Or marinade some lean meat the night before for grilling at dinner time.) But for me lunch has been my weakness so that is what I prep.
2. Think of it as making extra left overs. Instead of taking an entire evening to meal prep, I will sometimes just make tons of extra dinner and save the left overs.
3. You don’t have to use perfect Tupperware containers for each meal. Nope, you really don’t. Some things I will just keep in bigger containers in the fridge and use for several days (big bowl of cooked rice, gallon bag of grilled chicken, pre-cut veggies etc.). Just take out as much as you need when you need it. You’re still saving yourself the step of cooking it from scratch.
4. Most meals you make ahead of time can be frozen. When I found this out it was a game changer! I try to freeze the meals I’m going to have at the end of the week so they taste fresher when I get to them.
5. Make stuff you like! Seems simple, but this is the most important one to me. I have prepped meals that are the epitome of health that never get eaten just because I think they’re going to taste gross.
As my Grandpa always says “don’t make this harder than it is!”. You’ve got this. Meal prep doesn’t have to suck and the reward is worth the effort. I promise." –Bethany C.
"If I don’t meal prep I don’t eat because I’m so busy taking care of everyone else and if I don’t eat enough then I don’t lose fat. I’ve started cooking 3 lbs in chicken breasts in my Instant Pot and then I shred it. I freeze half of it and I eat it the next week and I eat other half for lunch throughout the here week. I also have started making egg muffins- muffins that you put various ingredients in and bake at 350*. I make 12 and have 2 for breakfast everyday. Getting two of my meals prepped and ready to go has really helped me curb my cravings and staring at the fridge in wonder." –Bert A.
"My “meal prep" consists of having "easy", go-to ingredients on hand for quick and easy meals. In addition, keeping a handful of healthy choices and on the go options in my travel bag, car, AND pantry:
Easy, Quick Meal Ingredients:
Tyson Grilled & Ready Chunk Chicken in the freezer—I use this for salads, or a side of protein.
Chicken (fresh if I have planned time to grill or cook)
Salmon (Freezer or pouch)
Frozen or canned veggies
Franks Hot Sauce
This covers interchangeable meal options that are clean and on the go. I, unfortunately, don't always have the time to cook for a full week ahead- as I never know where I will be. Having frozen items is key- as it is always there and easy to heat. The pouches, protein packets, or tuna/salmon pouches are awesome for travel and keep me on point." –Dawn H.