Let’s face it, life gets in the way of your clean eating goals sometimes. Packed schedules–your own AND the rest of your family’s–not only have the tendency to interrupt cooking and mealtimes, but can also derail your diet. After all, fast food–while overall horrible for you–IS super convenient for those busy, grab-and-go type days. One of the BEST ways to set yourself up for a week of clean eating is to prepare in bulk some of your favorite healthy meals ahead of time. And while it can sound a little intimidating to cook a bunch of food at once, it’s actually a lot easier, less expensive, and less time-consuming than you think.
Clean Eating Meal Prep Made Easy: Top 5 Tips
1. Clean kitchen, clean food! Before beginning any clean eating meal prep, start with a tidy workspace. Having your counters and tabletops tidy along with all your kitchen essentials ready–including knives, pots, pans, glass or plastic food containers, and lunch bag–keeps your meal prep moving efficiently. It’s also handy to set out a large bowl or plastic bag somewhere on the counter for easy disposal of trash–this keeps you from having to continually walk over to and/or open your trash bin. I like this Space Saver Scrap Trap one for peelings and scraps as I meal prep.
2. Stick to simple recipes. As they say, the road to you-know-where is paved with good intentions! While trying new things is always a fun and easy way to spice up your healthy meal plan, it’s not wise to try a brand new or complicated recipe on prep days. Set yourself up for success by sticking to a few simple, healthy, and yummy meals that aren’t intimidating to prepare and will be appealing to you throughout the week.
3. You don’t have to “cook” everything. Many of the healthiest food choices require no cooking at all, including your favorite veggies and fruits. And while chopping up produce may deplete some of their nutritional value, it’s worth it if it means that you’ll be more likely to eat said produce during the week because of the convenience factor of having a prepared snack. Store cook-free prep foods, like fruits, veggies, and nuts, in single serving sizes for quick out-the-door options–or in larger containers if you know you’ll be good about portion control.
4. Make a “day” of it. Do your clean eating meal prep on the same day as your main grocery haul. For most people, Saturday or Sunday are the easiest days to do this. Set aside a good chunk of time in the afternoon to head to the nearby market and load up on your pre-planned clean eating foods. One major shopping trip during the week eliminates your need to make several smaller trips to the store–at times when you may be in a pinch and more likely to be tempted to grab an unhealthy but quick meal. Then, aim to do your clean eating meal prep shortly after you arrive home. This way, the food is stocked from the get-go with healthy, convenient options for the next several days.
5. Make your staples–and then mix it up a bit. Even though healthy food is yummy food, it can become a little mundane eating the same thing every day. Fortunately, there are several options to help keep your prepared clean food enticing all week, like adding different spices, herbs, and good oils or fats with each meal, eating your prepared meals at different times on different days, and throwing some of your prepared meat or veggies over fresh salad greens or scrambled eggs.
Do you have any clean eating meal prep tips of your own? We want to hear about it. Share in the comments below!