Listen, I’m ambitious. A go-getter. A girl with her eye on the prize. But … I am also really lazy. There, I admitted it. It may seem impossible to be both ambitious and lazy, but you can be. Because I am. I am particularly lazy when it comes to eating right. Oh, I know exactly what I do wrong and what I need to fix but doing those things. Good gracious — it’s like you’re asking me to give-up MaxE. I pout. Whine. And then go take a nap. Is it any wonder that I’ve been trying to “get healthy” forever?
The ambitious part of me is deeply ashamed at the lazy side of me. She constantly lectures and wags her finger at the I don’t wanna part of me who probably flipped the bird in response. The lazy part of me is kind of immature. But … I’m trying, really trying, to get my sh*t together, which is why I’m turning to meal prep.
Meal Planning to the Rescue
I’ve been very good at meal planning but don’t always plan for the healthiest of meals. There were lots of pasta, potatoes and bread involved in those meals. Now I don’t consider carbs to be the enemy, but I overindulge and don’t have an active lifestyle to balance my love of carbs either. While I am begrudgingly reducing my carb intake and planning healthier meals, I also have another huge opportunity to set myself up for success with some weekly meal prep.
The ambitious side of me can get caught up in work and forget to eat. And a hungry Tanya will make a bad food choice 110% of the time. Don’t believe me? Well, let’s just say one morning last week I skipped breakfast, which I normally don’t do, and went to the grocery store for a red onion, apples and garlic (don’t judge — I forgot to pick them up earlier). Tanya did NOT have doughnuts on her list. But somehow, Tanya got lost and wandered into the doughnut shop and came home with two yummy, fat-ladened doughnuts. And dang right I ate them.
And possibly felt a little ill afterwards, because that was a lot of sugar on an empty stomach for a girl with low sweet tolerance.
Even walking into the store, I knew this was a bad idea, but I did it anyway. So two important lessons to consider ongoing:
- I have terrible willpower, especially when hungry.
- I make ALL decisions with my belly when hungry. And often bad decisions.
I am well aware of that you shouldn’t shop when hungry. But I’m human. Sometimes I do things I know I shouldn’t. Unless you’re a unicorn, you probably do too. For me, the lesson isn’t to beat myself up over my mistake, but to plan better so I can effortlessly make good food choices. When I can just grab something ready-made, like overnight oats or a salad, I do much, much better at eating healthy, even when I’m a ravenous and prone to making bad choices.
Mindlessly Mindful Eating
It’s clear that I need to pay attention to what I put into body and my hope is at some point it will be second nature to me. Right now, my goal is to be mindlessly mindful of what I eat. In other words, I want to plan ahead and have good-for-me meals at my fingertips so I don’t have to think, but just eat.
To make this work for me, I took the following into consideration:
- Prep needed to be for the week. Why? I tend to waste food when I plan too far in advance. Thus, to make the best use of my time and money, I will plan for a week at a time versus for the month or even months.
- Prep needed to be simple and easy. Why? I won’t do it otherwise. Remember, I am lazy, whiny and pouty. And resistant to changing my ways. I am also honest. 🙂
- Prep needs to take no more than one hour. Why? See #2.
I cannot stress how important it is for you to figure out your own rules and guidelines to follow when it comes to meal prep. It’s good to read what others are doing and why. But figure out what works best for you.
My Meal Prep Plan
My meal prep effort is focused on breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack. Normally, I like a good variety of meals because I can get bored, which leads to pouting and a tendency to eat out. But I’m taking a small risk here and creating some basic meals to rotate to keep things simple, while hopefully providing enough variety to eliminate meal boredom.
Breakfast Meal Prep
I really enjoy overnight oats and it only takes about 5 minutes to put together a batch Sunday night, which gives me four weekday breakfasts. Breakfast is my favorite meal to eat out, so having something in the fridge ready-to-go is key. I just grab one, add some fresh fruit and I’m good to go. It’s also a great choice for me because they are a good source of calcium and keep me full until lunch. There are also a ton of variations, which helps with the boredom.
Lunch Meal Prep
My go-to’s for lunch are an egg dish (scrambled eggs with lots of veggies, egg bake, soup (non-cream based and heavy on the vegetables), salad and the occasional sandwich. I’m trying to avoid sandwiches because I tend to add a carb to dinner. I find it disruptive to my workflow if I have to take too much time to prepare my lunch, so I typically make the egg bake or soup on Sunday. For salads, I prep veggies and protein (grill the chicken in advance) so I can just assemble.
Afternoon Snack Prep
I do a couple things here. I LOVE hummus. And to my surprise, I am really beginning to enjoy my 1/4 cup of hummus with red/yellow pepper strips. Who knew? 🙂 I probably make hummus twice a month and a different variety each time. One batch lasts a week. Then to keep things interesting, I might snack on a cheese stick, pickle, hard-boiled egg (assuming eggs aren’t not been eaten for lunch) yogurt or a piece of fruit.
Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to be Hard
The logical part of me knows that eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard or painful. That it can, in fact, be delicious. But that whiny, lazy part of me, which has previously been the loudest voice, feels very differently. I’m learning to silence that voice and meal prep is going a long way to helping me do so. I’ve still got a long road ahead of me but the path is becoming clearer and clearer.
Do you meal prep? Why or why not? Any tips for me?