How’s your year going so far? Are you still crushing goals and feeling optimistic, or are you, like so many of us, already starting to notice hairline fractures in your resolve? In particular, the healthy diets that seemed so doable after an overload of cheeseboards and champagne on New Year’s Eve might be crumbling like a sleeve of Thin Mints hidden in your purse. (Why does Girl Scout cookie season start in January, anyway? It seems unnecessarily cruel.)
Part of setting more realistic resolutions is having a plan, especially when it comes to cleaning up your eating habits. So if you’re feeling a little discouraged, don’t give up…check out these simple tips and nutritious meal prep ideas to help make your New Year’s resolution a year-round reality!
Keep it simple
If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, it’s probably easy to tell that healthy eating is a common goal this time of year. The produce section looks like it’s been plundered by pirates who just got an anonymous tip from their stock brokers that gold doubloons are out and organic kale is the wave of the future, and the aisles are congested with shoppers carefully checking labels for ingredients they didn’t even know existed until recently.
Our intentions are good…but our methods are sometimes flawed. Rather than loading up your cart with more highly perishable green stuff than you could consume in a month and trying to make five brand new recipes at a time, try this simple formula:
One grain/starch + one protein + one vegetable
Ideally, especially when you’re new to meal prepping, you’ll limit yourself to 2-3 recipes per week that include as many overlapping ingredients as possible. If you’re someone who doesn’t mind eating the same thing over and over, congratulations…this will be a lot easier! However, if you crave variety, keep in mind that you can always make changes to the seasoning and final preparation of a staple ingredient.
For instance, Vivian from Teal Notes (which has a ton of printable templates and yummy recipes…check it out) suggests prepping a big batch of rice, then maybe turning half of it into fried rice to accompany an Asian dish and serving the other half with beans alongside chicken and veggies.
Find your food prep groove
Just like any other part of your routine, meal prep is something you’ll fine tune until you find the version of it that works best for you…but here are a few popular methods to get you started!
Make-ahead meals: If your weeknights are super busy, setting aside one day (like Sunday) to cook complete meals for the week may be a good option. Try to choose recipes that reheat well, such as soups, stews, and casseroles, and consider throwing together a simple salad right before you eat if you want a fresh side dish.
Batch cooking + freezing: Batch cooking is preparing a large quantity of food to be portioned out and frozen for future use. Check out these helpful tips for choosing freezer-friendly foods and packaging them properly! If you prefer a more eco-friendly approach, you can also freeze food in glass Mason jars…just remember to use jars with no “shoulders” and follow these simple steps.
Individual portions: This method is great if you and/or your family members take lunch to work/school, and it can be particularly helpful if you’re following a specific diet plan or just trying to watch your portion sizes. You can prep and portion entire meals for reheating using a microwave-safe bento box-style container, or choose simple grab-and-go recipes and snacks such as overnight oats, chia seed pudding, Mason jar salads, or even just raw veggies with hummus.
Ingredient prep: Not a big fan of reheated food? Don’t worry, you can still food prep! If you prefer to cook meals right before serving, you can at least do a little work in advance to reduce daily kitchen time. Chopping vegetables, trimming and/or marinating proteins, measuring out spices and other ingredients, and making smoothie packs are just a few ways you can make life a little less hectic on busy weekdays!
One of the problems with attaching our dietary makeovers to the new year is that we’ve often spent the past month and a half or so eating our way through sugary, salty, buttery bliss with relative abandon, and we tend to fool ourselves into thinking that the moment Earth begins a fresh revolution around the sun, we’ll have no trouble making an immediate switch from eggnog and green bean casserole to egg white omelettes and green smoothies.
Rather than potentially setting yourself up for failure by depriving yourself of every food that you enjoy, choose a few unhealthy habits to focus on reducing or eliminating and a few healthy habits to focus on introducing or nurturing.
For example, rather than trying to cut out all added sugar at once, you could try to give up soda and other sugary beverages in favor of drinking more water, and maybe swap out your morning toaster strudel for oatmeal with fresh strawberries.
A plan for every resolution
From a healthier approach to feeding the body you live in, to better financial protection for the people you love, we’re here to help you develop a plan! So write your meal prep menu, visit Our Life Covered℠ for a quick, customized, no-obligation life insurance quote, and then smile as you realize that things aren’t always as complicated as they may seem.
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