Preparing food ahead of time goes against my grain, I just can’t seem to commit to 4 days in a row of the same salad – or whatever it might be! I love winging it day by day, and just going with whatever I’m craving – sounds good right? Well… in theory anyways – what actually happens is more like this: coffee and water until 7:00 pm at night when I eat a huge dinner (and I mean huge). The problem is, our bodies don’t really work that way – the ‘stock up approach’ or as I call it ‘the camel approach’ leaves you with unstable energy levels and it has been proven to lead to health problems.
So… I took the plunge and I did some food prep for the week – salad jars and the whole nine yards! And you know what? It was so awesome having yummy food available in the fridge. First thing in the morning, you grab both breakfast and lunch and off you go – so simple! I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to get my act together!
As it turns out if you prepare a few different things, it’s not as boring as I thought it would be, and a million times better than no food at all (duh what was I thinking)! I’m still working on a schedule that works best for us, and I’ve found it works well to do some food prep 2x per week. Fresh food and especially pre-made salads don’t really keep past 4-5 days. We like to hike quite a bit on the weekends, so it’s nice to have your lunches already made which equals more time playing and less time in the kitchen!
So what does a week of food prep look like?
Salad jars – I make 8 quart jars for lunches through Thursday, and we take leftovers for lunch on Friday. I don’t always assemble my salads in jars, sometimes I prep all kinds of veggies, along with some grilled meats or hard boiled eggs, and a couple of homemade salad dressings. Then, each day I customize my salad using different combos of what I have available.
Ginger Dressing – Basil Vinaigrette – Avocado Ranch Dressing – Vietnamese Salad Bowls (made w/rice noodles in the picture)
Chia pudding jars – I put these in pint jars – I fill 1/2 the jar with chia pudding and the other half with fresh fruit or fruit sauce.
Tropical Coconut Chia Pudding Jars (the coconut chia jars are in the picture with strawberry rhubarb sauce) & Raspberry Sherbet Chia Pudding
1-2 smoothies for the beginning of the week – Mango Madness Smoothie (in the above picture) is my current favorite because it keeps 2 days.
Raw energy bars – I individually wrap them and place them in the freezer for any kind of snack or quick breakfast later in the week after the chia jars have run out.
Lemon Meringue Pie Energy Bars (pictured above) & Chocolate Chip Brownie Energy Bars
Pudding cups – Nutella Pudding, fruit crisps, Greek yogurt, and baked or fresh fruit are all great options for the small jam sized jars
Apple Crisp – Peach Crisp – Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
Snacks – Curried Cashews – Five Spice Maple Pumpkin Seeds – Banana Chai Granola
Pre-washed fruits and veggies – I like to have cut up pineapple or washed grapes, carrots sticks or cucumber slices (these only keep a couple days) on hand for late afternoon snacking.
1-2 freezer meal options – it’s always nice to have a a package of Salsa Beef or Bolognese Sauce on hand for those nights when you’re too tired to cook. Ironically, this always happens when I grocery shop. By the time I get everything home and crammed into the fridge, I’m super tired and want nothing more than to go out for the most unhealthy thing imaginable! Having most of your meal already made really helps when you’re exhausted. But… lest you think I’m really on top of it, I’ll let you in on a secret – I almost never have freezer meals on hand (it’s my main goal to have a few things in the freezer more regularly). As soon as I make them, I tend to use them!
How much time does this take?
I spend anywhere from 1-3 hours per week preparing foods ahead of time. It only takes me about 1 hour to prepare food for breakfasts and lunches during the week, but if I’m preparing for the weekend it can be longer.
Do I actually make all of this every week – well ummm… not quite (although I have managed it twice now)! I figure whatever I get prepped is better than nothing. The first time I tried this, the week was such a breeze with all my jars lined up in a row, and I was feeling like Martha (i.e. wow have I ever got it together this week)! Well… pride goes before a fall they say – the next week I fell off the wagon and it was total chaos – but live and learn. So, this has become by accident, one of my Maybe on Monday projects where I’m challenging myself to tackle some of my bad habits!
I hope this food prepping idea helps you as much as it’s helped me! I’m usually lucky if I make 2 things on the list, but it’s totally transformed the way we eat every week! Leave me a comment and let me know if you’d like any follow up posts about food prepping!
10 thoughts on “Food Prep 101”
These are some great ideas! I’m a stay at home mom of 2 and trying to get my business off the ground, needless to say my eating habits are horrible. I am hoping to lose weight but it won’t happen unless I change my daily eating habits.
I hope this helps you out, and let me know how it goes! I can really relate on the busyness of life – when my husband and I were in the process of immigration we were always back and forth between our 2 households, (6 hours of driving apart) and it was almost impossible to eat healthy without preparing ahead. It can be so hard to eat good (if at all sometimes) when you’re stung out and tight on time! I’ve found that even if I just make 1 thing for the week like a batch of energy bars, it really helps me eat healthier and stay on track. 🙂
Thank you! This will help me plan meals for my RV road trips 🙂
We’re really loving this new method for healthy eating! I’m adding more and more recipes as I go, which is nice for variety. 🙂
Thank you Kari! This is a fabulous idea. I’ve tried the salad in a jar and it works great. I’m really trying to stick to a mostly Paleo diet and this would be so helpful! Keep up the good work!
I just noticed I’m not too far away from you.
near Coeur d’Alene, ID.
You’re just a hop/skip away – Coeur d’Alene is a beautiful area! I started food prepping to stick to a mostly Paleo diet as well, I found that I just wasn’t eating because the options available made me feel so bad it wasn’t worth it. I love having healthy food that keeps me energized and on track. 🙂
This post is super useful Kari, I’m going to share it right away!
Thanks for the extra support Mike, I really appreciate it!
Thank you, that was very inspirational for me. I have the same problem, (although I’m not running on solely coffee, but my lunch more often than not is bread and butter), and I really need to get myself together. I may just be able after reading that. I also would like to read more about your food prepping.
Have a nice evening
Glad I’m not the only one who struggles with healthy eating! For me, it’s been great to have even 1-2 healthy prepared foods ready for the crazier days of the week!