Updated: May 27, 2020
There's no denying it, utilizing meal prep definitely helps you to achieve your health + wellness goals. When you have a plan, you already know exactly what you're going to do. There's no last minute questioning what to make for lunch or dinner when you've had a stressful day. You just get to... eat!
But let's understand something about meal prep - there are many different ways to get prepared for a week of on-point meals! Does this mean you have to spend 4 hours in the kitchen on a Sunday every week? Nope! What about eating pre-made food every night, monday-friday? Doesn't have to be! Those images of a full week of pre-made meals that are all over Instagram is just one way to meal prep. Today I'm going to explain a new way to approach meal prep so that you can pick what works for your lifestyle! There's absolutely no one-size-fits-all approach. And if spending your entire Sunday in the kitchen isn't your idea of a good time, you may want to keep reading.
A new way to think about prep ~ the Semi Prep
I often get asked exactly how I meal prep for the week. And in the traditional sense of the phrase "meal-prep" I don't really do a whole lot! I personally don't like to have all of my meals pre-made for the week. Some people do, and that's great! But I like coming home and unwinding by chopping some veggies while watching Netflix or listening to the Italian Cooking playlist on Spotify. How does this qualify as meal prep, you may ask? One definition of the word prepare is "to make yourself ready for something that you will be doing". It doesn't mean do all the things before you need them done. What I'm saying is that in order to be successful with your wellness goals, you don't have to spend your entire Sunday in the kitchen! I call this Semi Prep.
Enter the prep list
So what do you do instead? Super easy! You create a menu for the week - and this can be as simple or as complex as you like - and pre-make a few items that need time to cook. I'm not talking full meals, I mean hard boiling eggs or whipping up overnight oats for the week. That's it!
If minimal Sunday prep is what you're looking for, try the following steps to make sure that you're still prepared for the week:
1. Make a list... and check it twice: Each week, I put together a list of four dinners and five lunches that sound tasty to me... helloooo Pumpkin Chili and Cinnamon PB Muffins from the THRIVING Cookbook (I usually go out to dinner on Friday, so I don't prep for that day) Then I make my grocery list to match it.
2. Hit up your grocery store: I buy everything that I need for the week on Saturday or Sundays. This is where I aim to save time, by minimizing the amount of times I have to stop by the grocery store.
3. Prep the bare minimum that you need: For me, this usually involves slicing some red onions to pickle for the week (literally takes 2.5 minutes and is perfect on EVERYTHING), hard boiling eggs for salads, and stirring together chia pudding. This all takes about 15-20 minutes max.
How do you prep for lunches and dinners then?
You already did! The simple fact of having all the ingredients and knowing what you're going to make is a jump, skip, and a leap further than if you didn't have either of those things! When I make my dinners at night - usually taking less than 45 minute to put together unless I'm feeling really adventurous! - I also put together my lunch for the next day. Since I already have my hard boiled eggs and pickled red onions done, it's as simple as adding ingredients in a glass container and putting it back in the fridge. That's Semi Prep!
The point that I'm trying to get at is that you don't have to spend your entire Sunday trying to get all of your meals done for the week... unless this is something that you like. I like to use my Sundays for creative cooking, not weekly meal prepping, so this style isn't for me, and that's okay! Finding what works for you and your schedule is what is most important. There are options, and the best option is the one that YOU like best!
If you're looking for simple, tasty recipes that you can plan your week with, check out my THRIVING Cookbook HERE! These are recipes that are regulars in my weekly menus! Looking for a little more structure? Check out my 21 Day Intermittent Fasting Program with 3 weeks of meal-by-meal guidance HERE.
What are you Semi Prepping this week? Tag me on Instagram in your photos @autumnelle_nutrition so that I can see your creations! Happy cooking my friends!
Autumn Elle Nutrition