Meal prep, preparing meals ahead of time, has swept the health and fitness nation. There are many classes, programs, blog posts, and recipes dedicated to the art of meal prep. Really, all that meal prep requires is a little time, a little organization, and a little planning. I was a meal prep queen during that six week diet.
Meal prep is great if you don’t have time during the week to cook but you still want to have healthy meals. It can be a time saver, it can also be a money saver. But after I completed that six week diet, I have not meal prepped since.
Being a creator who loves to cook, I find that meal prep is so restrictive and boring! I love coming home after work everyday, pulling ingredients out of the fridge, and making something new and something darn good. I look forward to that because when I am in the kitchen, that’s when my creative juices really start flowing. I know not everyone feels this way about cooking, so meal prep is a great option for those people. But if you like to cook and you’ve got the time, cook!
Meal prep is great if you bring your lunch to work everyday, like myself. But I have found a couple other solutions to bringing my lunch to work without meal prepping.
A lot of times, especially in the summer, I will throw together a cold lunch, packed with healthy fats, proteins, and veggies. The combo of those varies everyday, keeping it interesting and tasty!
My typical cold lunches start with a bed of arugula, usually about two handfuls. Then, in no specific order, I add protein and veggies. Sprinkle some cheese on tip, and I am good to go.
Here is a list of proteins that might make it in my cold lunch:
- Bacon *always*
- Pre-cooked Sausage, just crisp up on the stove.
- Chorizo *so good*
- Chicken salad
- Tuna Salad
- Hard/Soft boiled egg
- Smoked salmon
I usually have more than one protein, and I almost always have bacon bits. Things that need to be cooked; chicken, chorizo; will be cooked the night or a couple nights before, but its usually cooked the night before. Things like bacon and hard boiled eggs, I will pop in the toaster oven or into a pot first thing when I get up, so they are ready to go when I assemble my lunch.
Here is a list of other toppings and veggies I might have:
- Jicama (chopped up into little cubes)
- Cold roasted veggies
Those are just a few things I might put on a salad. Assembly time takes around 5-10 min, depending on if you need to cut anything up. I know 5-10 min in the morning is 5-10 min you could be sleeping, but the pay off is worth it.
Another great way to make bagged lunches easier is to plan for leftovers. If you are making something yummy for dinner, make a little extra for the next day. Better yet, make extra for the next two days. In my opinion, most things taste better the second day. All the flavors have come together overnight, making your lunch super flavorful and delicious,
Easy leftover ideas are things likes soups and stews, oven bakes, or just easy proteins and roasted veggies. Nuke’em up in the microwave at work and call it a day. ‘
Either you do or you don’t
If you are a master meal prepper and you love having pre-made meals on hand whenever you might need, good for you. Keep doing what your doing. If you are enjoying your meals instead of choking them down for the nutrients, don’t change a thing.
If you are finding yourself completely overwhelmed by the thought of spending a whole day putting meals together for the week, don’t do that. Take it day by day, or meal by meal. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate meal everyday, just make it simple and good. If you find yourself uninspired when you are cooking, try making something new every night. Follow a recipe or don’t. Do what makes you feel comfortable but also what produces healthy, delicious meals.
It doesn’t have to be hard if you don’t want it to be. Just take a few extra minutes in your day to put together a cold lunch, or spend a little extra time after work to make a delicious meal with some leftovers tomorrow. Don’t feel subjected to meal prep or to cook every meal. Do what you need to do to eat healthy but also yummy food.