By Daphne Baldwin Kornrich, MS, RDN, CDN
Making healthy lifestyle changes takes some effort and thought, and one way to make better food choices is to have a plan.
Sometimes the thought of “food prep” can be daunting, and we can become overwhelmed just thinking about how to find time to add another activity into our already busy lives. However, the opposite is true. Once you implement the routine of preparing foods in advance you will actually have more time during the week to eat better and can cut back on take-out or making last minute decisions on what to eat.
Food Prep Basics:
Pick a day that you have some extra time to prepare food for the week.
Make a grocery list, and stock up on basics to make balanced meals:
- Protein sources: Lean meat, chicken, fish, tofu, eggs, beans
- Fruits: Pick a few and add variety. Frozen fruits such as berries are very versatile.
- Vegetables: A bag of salad greens and cut up vegetables go a long way. Purchase some frozen vegetables to have on hand.
- Whole grains: Try brown rice, couscous, or chick pea pasta. Frozen precooked whole grains are available and convenient.
- Don’t forget to spice things up! Spices provide flavor, and offer health benefits without adding calories.
If you’re overwhelmed by deciding what to cook, think of the meals that you like and enjoy cooking. Make extra so you will have leftovers for lunch or another dinner. Try freezing extra portions so you can enjoy it again in the future. Label food with dates when you freeze to help protect food safety and taste.
- Theme nights have gained popularity and helps structure the week’s menu. Try Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Whatever Wednesday – you get the idea!
- A clean, uncluttered kitchen is more welcoming and gives you more room to food prep. Turn on the music and have some fun!
- Purchase glass containers to store veggies and fruit so they are front and center. Bento boxes and small measured containers are also helpful for portion control. Mason jars are great for storing salads.
- Cook whole grains in batches, portion, and freeze, and you will have a quick, easy way to add them to future meals.
- Go old school and make your favorite sauce on meal prep day. An old-fashioned marinara is a great addition to pre-prepped meals.
So remember, have a plan, pick a time, turn up the music and set yourself up for better tasting food, which will move you towards a healthier lifestyle!
Daphne Baldwin Kornrich has been a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for the past 30 years, working in a wide variety of clinical and outpatient settings. Daphne currently specializes in bariatrics and weight management.