how has March been treating you so far? I hope all is well!
I’m coming at you today with a topic (see above) that I had never given much thought when I was still living back in Switzerland. I basically didn’t know what it was.
Working in the US, where most people have al desko lunches every day and tackle rather long commutes day in day out forced me to rethink my food options Monday through Friday. After all there are some quite relevant advantages that come along with planning and preparing your meals ahead. Let’s hear some right now in case you need convincing. I’m sure there are more, those seem like the most obvious ones to me.
- Time: You’ll save yourself some veeery valuable time in the morning (think about how much longer you can spend lying in bed. That’s a good one, right?)
- Physical Health: You’ll know exactly what ingredients go into your meals. If you have any dietary restrictions this can be especially valuable.
- Mental Health: We all know that being hangry is not a particularly nice state of mind. In order to keep yourself happy it’s always great to have prepped meals and snacks at hand.
#1 Make a plan
Who doesn’t love a good plan?
Even if it includes food?
There are a million resources, meal plans, videos, posts out there but I’ll try and keep it fairly simple by just showing you how I do it and what my take on it is. If you’re into it, take a few minutes maybe on a Friday or Saturday or whenever you do your grocery shopping for the week ahead. Things to take into consideration:
- How many meals do you need to prepare? How many times will you be out for dinner or lunch and therefore not need to prepare anything during the work week? I tend to not plan anything for the weekend as we have more time then and are out and about. Still, being more aware of what you’ll need will not only make your grocery shopping sessions be done way faster and efficiently (no more randomly picking up groceries as you go) it will also prevent you from having to throw away food that has gone to waste.
- Have your containers ready: As you will be preparing meals or ingredients for the week ahead you’ll have to store them somewhere. Make sure to have enough glass jars (for breakfasts or salads) or glass containers at hand.
- Set time aside to prep: Lots of people including myself will have a little cooking session on a Sunday night for an hour or two and get all the preparation done.
#2 Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
The way I approach meal prep is to prepare ingredients separately rather than full meals. This holds true for lunch especially. For breakfast and for dinner I will mostly turn to a “complete” meal. What do I mean by that?
My go-to options are either overnight oats, chia pudding or a bircher. They won’t take much longer than a few minutes to put together. Stored in a glass jar your 5 breakfasts for the work week ahead are ready to go.
- Oats, chia pudding or bircher as your base
- Toppings (fresh or dried fruit, nuts, seeds, almond butter)
I’ve rediscovered my love for spinach salad. It’s become a staple item for my lunch salads. I am not a fan of salads that will make you go hungry an hour after eating them though. The key here is to bulk up your salad with as many delicious things as possible. I love to throw in some red quinoa, farro, barley, lentils, brown rice or chickpeas, avocados, olives, artichokes, hard-boiled eggs topped with some green onions, sunflower seeds, chive, roasted vegetables, hummus, falafel, tahini, cottage or feta cheese,… The list is endless, choose your salads and have your ingredients for the week ready so that you can just put them together the night before. Switch up the ingredients every week so the whole thing doesn’t get boring.
- Red quinoa, farro, barley, lentils, brown rice, chickpeas
- Hard-boil some eggs
- Roast vegetables in the oven (parsnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, …)
- Make your own hummus
- Cut up vegetables to snack on during the week
- Prep your toppings such as green onions, edamame, chicken, falafel, avocado, …
We will think about 3-4 dinner meals that we fancy eating and will put them together on the evening itself. You have a selection of ingredients ready at hand to cook the meals you had planned so you’re good to go and will not run the risk of turning into a hangry person.
Packing up fruit (banana, apples) and nuts, seeds and dried fruit in small glass jars is always great if you’re out and about and feeling peckish.
I’ll also prepare my own ginger-turmeric concoction, which I love. Here’s how I do it: Grate some fresh ginger, add a tablespoon of turmeric powder, pour over a bit of lemon juice and drizzle with honey. Store the mix in a glass jar in your fridge and take it out whenever you feel like a warming tea. Just add a few tablespoons (depending on how spicey you like things) of your mix into a cup and pour boiling water over it. Tadaa! Your delicious tea, loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties is ready to be consumed! Enjoy!