Meal prepping can seem like quite the endeavor, especially if you’re used to convenience or the seemingly spontaneous option of deciding what to eat closer to lunchtime. The benefits of pre-planning your meals for the week (and actually preparing them) are both financial and health related. The Mayo Clinic reports advantages such as added ease to grocery shopping, reduced unplanned trips, and saved money from not eating out.Â And after a workout, who wants to totally reverse the positive vibe effects with that stressful question, “What do I eatÂ now?”
Try these steps to keep the stress out of meal prep and add in the fun:
1. Buy Seasonal Produce
The Mayo Clinic recommends planning meals around fruits and vegetables that are in season. This is a great way to keep things fresh, in terms of options. You won’t be eating the same foods every season, and you can get creative. For example, veggies like arugula, zucchini, garlic, and cucumber are in season in the summer. Put some fun in your meal prep by looking up quick and easy recipes to incorporate these in your lunches or dinners, or to spruce up that same old salad in a jar.
2. Go Meatless
You can alternate one of your usualÂ meals for an all veggies one or add veggies to a meal that typically is meat-focused. Experts say adding elements like nuts, seeds, and beans are great replacements for more exotic meals. These ingredients can also supplement the nutrients lost from cutting out the meat. Adding seafood like shrimpÂ to pasta or even a sandwich roll is another way to spruce things up without cold cuts or ground beef.
3. Try a Weekly Theme
Whether it’s by type of food or region where the recipes originated, you can definitely have fun with this. One week, you can make and take all yourÂ breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinners Italian-style, or use only one main fish or meat throughout the week to create different meals. Try low-sodium soups composed of various veggies, or get creative and incorporate fruits into each meal. You could even try a “Fruits and Veggies I’ve Never Eaten” theme, where you challenge yourself to try something outside the usual apples, oranges, carrots, tomatoes, and bananas.
4. Get Cool Containers
Meal prep buffs have used old sauce jars, plastic dinnerware, and even Ziploc bags, but why not add a little cool to your meal prep? Try leak-proof options such as Easy LunchboxesÂ thatÂ feature bright-colored lids, or Sunsella’s Bento Lunchboxes. For more stylish options,Â Black + Blum offers sleek, tubularÂ containers that have removable compartmentsÂ for separating food and companies like ECOlunchbox, Bento & Co., and Happy JacksonÂ offer chic and modern designs that will make you look forward to eating your pre-made meals.