Everyone has their own things to do, and nutrition may not be your highest priority all the time, and that’s okay! Busy can be good, but you have to remember to give your body what it needs. Sometimes we’re so busy we may default to unhealthy choices, which is why meal preparation (meal prep) is a good choice. When healthy meals are prepared ahead of time, it can help reduce poor eating habits and save you money. So, to make things a bit smoother for you on your way to a healthier lifestyle, we have some tips to help you meal prep with a busy schedule.
First, there are different ways to meal prep. Some people like to buy everything on Sunday and prepare meals for Monday to Friday. Depending on your schedule and what you are preparing this may not be the best idea as you should typically only keep leftovers for 3-4 days. If you ever doubt the quality of the food throw it out! Because leftovers don’t last forever you may want to meal prep twice a week so your fruit, vegetables and meat stay fresh, safe and delicious.
- Start small and keep it simple. If you’re new to meal prep, it may seem like a lot to prepare a week of meals all at one time. Start small. Pick one meal to prepare ahead of time, say breakfast, and once you have the hang of preparing your breakfast you can try to add lunch or dinner to the mix.
- Have the right tools. If you’re preparing your meals, it’s a good idea to pick up some reusable containers. It’s recommended to use glass jars or bowls if you plan on reheating what’s inside. If glass is out of your price range, no problem, use what you are able to, in the safest way possible. You may also want a lunch bag, if you don’t have access to a fridge at work you should use a cooler bag with ice packs to ensure your food stays at a safe temperature.
- Choose recipes with similar ingredients. Choose recipes ahead of time so that you know what you’re buying and how much of it you need. It can be helpful to choose recipes that use the same ingredients so that you don’t end up wasting food. Also, choose recipes with your favourite ingredients. You don’t need to go all in with vegetables or fruits you hate – these are your meals and are intended for you to enjoy.
- Keep a routine. Choose one day of the week that allows you to dedicate a couple hours to make your food. Have an alarm set or put it in your calendar ahead of time so you don’t forget – and commit to it!
- Go easy on yourself. Sometimes, you’ll get invited out to eat or you might not prepare enough food to get you through the day or week, don’t worry. Whatever the reason, it’s okay to make mistakes or go out sometimes. If you do choose to eat food other than what you’ve prepared, try to choose something with all the food groups in Canada’s Food Guide.
Meal prep can be a great way to save money and time, and help solidify a healthy lifestyle. If you plan to use meal prep as part of a diet, remember dieting is not the same as healthy eating. Consult a dietitian (8-1-1) or check out our healthy eating section for more information.
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