A new year means a new you, and for many, this might finally mean spending less on take-out and putting a focus on eating healthier. But when you run your own business, it can seem nearly impossible to take the time during the weekend or at night to complete essential tasks like feeding yourself food that is healthy and good for you. However, spending a few minutes every evening prepping your food or spending an hour on the weekend can make a world of difference in not only your overall wellness, but also your productivity. Start the new year off right with healthy lunches that save your wallet and your waistline.
Why You Should Meal Prep
- 1. Meal prepping saves you money. Instead of spending $10 or more on lunch every day, you can spend a fraction of the cost by prepping your meals for the entire week. The money you will pay per meal is much cheaper because you can create meals in bulk and repurpose different ingredients for multiple meals.
- 2. Meal prep reduces food waste. Roughly ⅓ of the food produced in the world for human consumption is lost or wasted. The foods that are thrown away the most are vegetables and fruits, as well as roots and tubers. If you do find yourself wasting ingredients, try to think of more creative ways to use them!
- 3. Meal prep is less stressful. After a long day at the office, the last thing you want to worry about is what you want to eat the next day at lunch. It makes it easy to justify eating takeout every day. By having your meals ready for you, for both lunch and breakfast, it will reduce the amount of stress you feel and save you time so you can focus on the more important things, like your business!
Essentials for meal prepping:
- Glass meal prep bowls – great for microwaving and reheating your food safely without having to dirty another dish.
- Mason jars – perfect for salads as you can keep your lettuce and veggies separate from the dressing.
- Bento box – allows you to pack lunches and snacks in just one box, helping to reduce the amount of cleanup and the number of things you have to grab in the morning.
Weekly Meal Prep Strategy
Never go to the grocery store without a plan
To be the most cost-effective and time-efficient, you should always prepare a grocery list before you even go to the grocery store. Instead of just wandering around and grabbing whatever looks good, with no real plan, you might end of buying ingredients you don’t need and go home without essential items. You’ll end up not knowing how to put together a cohesive meal with the ingredients, and they will end up going to waste, and you will end up back to ordering takeout.
Just like you plan ahead for your business strategy or social media calendar, you must do the same with your meals. At the very least, you should be sitting down once a week to plan your upcoming meals and shopping list so you won’t ever feel the anxiety of last-minute planning or not knowing what you will eat next.
Batch Your Food
When you are working, you try to be as consistent as possible across all your platforms, regardless of whether they are blogs, videos, social media, or the actual physical product. Work smarter, not harder is probably one of your work mantras; apply that same concept to your food as well. When you are meal prepping, especially breakfasts, consider batching. Having the same thing for breakfast with a slight variation is easy to produce and can be inexpensive. Batching breakfast is a great way to ensure that you always have a healthy breakfast ready to go, even when you are running late.
You can batch meals that can be frozen for a few months if you are getting tired of eating the same thing over and over again, but still want to make meal prepping easy.
Have Fall-back Options
While meal prepping will help increase your chances of avoiding the drive-through, let’s be real — life does happen and sometimes the best plans go awry. As a busy entrepreneur, you have a lot on your plate, and emergencies will happen. Recognize that no matter how well you plan, you should always have a Plan B. However, this doesn’t mean you should immediately fall back on bad habits. Here are a few ways to avoid this.
You should have:
- A 10-minute prep meal. Depending on your tastes, this could be a wide variety of things. Maybe it is whole-wheat pasta with a bag of steamed veggies or whatever strikes your fancy that evening!
- Healthy Frozen Meal. You should only use this in case of emergencies. Hopefully, when you were batching meals, you were able to freeze at least some items so it will make it easy for you to pull out in a pinch. If not, there are some great frozen meal options like Amy’s, which is low in sodium and a good, healthy option.
- Healthy Take-out Options. Even if your freezer and pantry are empty, it doesn’t mean you should go get fast food. There are tons of healthy options like Chipotle or Subway, as long as you are conscious of your choices. Or, depending on your region, you can pick from healthy options like Roti Mediterranean Grill, Sweetgreen, Protein Bar, and Native Foods Cafe.
Meal Prep ideas for breakfast:
- Instant oatmeal with berries or chopped up apples and cinnamon
- Whole-wheat English muffin with peanut butter and sliced banana or apple
- Overnight oats jars
- Granola yogurt parfait
- Freezer-friendly breakfast sandwiches
- Freezer-friendly breakfast bowls
Meal Prep Ideas for Lunch or Dinner:
- Roasted chicken and vegetables
- Honey garlic shrimp
- Carnitas bowls (to replace your Chipotle habit!)
- Teriyaki chicken rice bowls
- Pasta and veggies
- Chili maple lime salmon bowls
Meal Prep Ideas for Snacks:
- Carrots and hummus
- Granola and yogurt
- Honey mustard roasted chickpeas
- Granola bars (made from scratch)
- Protein peanut butter energy bites
A little bit of organization and planning is the best way to get started for meal prepping. Once it becomes a habit, you will forget about expensive and unhealthy takeout food. Here’s to a new you!