I have been doing meal prep for a while now. I do it twice a week. Once on Sunday and once on Thursday. My partner and I have agreed to set a limit of two external meals per week. Maybe a brunch on a Sunday morning or a dinner on a Friday or Saturday night. This plan has been saving us an incredible amount of money. We used to go to the grocery store, take a cart and walk around to see what we needed. Obviously, we bought a lot of unnecessary items, because at that moment we thought we would have needed them. Now, we know exactly what we need to buy. Our grocery shopping takes a much shorter time. Also, we save money on buying only the items we absolutely need. We don’t have much leftovers. We don’t waste food and throw anything away. Every Saturday, the fridge is almost empty and ready to be filled again. It’s a very rewarding process.
We do not count our calories. We are both individuals with normal weight and no food restrictions or allergies. We do portion control in order to maintain our current weights. We rely on eating healthy by including foods from all food groups, especially superfoods. The food groups include fruits & vegetables, grain products (bread, pasta, rice, quinoa, and cereals), Meat and alternatives (includes all meats, eggs, peanut butter, tofu, legumes, and nuts), Milk and alternatives (includes milk, cheese, yogurt, kefir, as well as plant drinks like almond or soy milk).
Most of you know meal prepping as having almost the same meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner day after day. We do it a bit differently. We do something called a “buffet meal prep”. Instead of having the same rice,chicken, broccoli plate for lunch, we make a Tupperware full of rice. Another one full of chicken, and a third one full of broccoli. More generally, we make 3 different portions of vegetables (broccoli, sweet potato, mushrooms), 3 different portions of protein (chicken, tofu, tuna), and 3 different bases (lentil rice, zucchini pasta, quinoa). Then, based on what we feel like eating that day, we mix and match. Salad is always there as an option too.
I’ll give you an example. I eat a tuna salad for lunch. Then for dinner, I eat chicken with mushrooms and zucchini pasta. The next day, I eat lentil rice, tuna, and broccoli for lunch. Then I eat a tofu salad for dinner. There’s so much variety and so many different flavours. It’s not boring at all. Even if it starts to become boring, we switch it up after 3.5 days. We bring ground beef, turkey, etc. into play. Brown rice, wild rice, tagliatelle pasta for base. Eggplants, cherry tomatoes, and corn for vegetables options. The possibilities are endless. The only thing you’ll need to do in the beginning though is to try different things to see what combinations you like better, and stick to them. For example, I don’t like the combination of tuna and tomatoes. Instead, I love combining tuna and corn. So I make sure my tuna salad doesn’t have tomatoes in it, but it has corn every time.
For breakfast we have 3 options that don’t necessarily rotate. Sometimes I eat the same thing for a few days, and sometimes I change everyday. We eat avocado toast with balsamic vinegar dressing, or oatmeal with honey and walnuts, or yogurt with granola and fresh fruits. They are all so satisfying and keep us full for long hours. Sometimes we don’t even need to snack between breakfast and lunch. If we do snack, our options are hummus and carrots, bananas, a handful of nuts, a handful of berries with yogurt (not on the days that we already had yogurt for breakfast), or sometimes potato chips or even cookies! Yes, there’s nothing wrong with that. Mental health is as important, if not more important that physical health. Let me just add that on the days we go to brunch, we order whatever we want. We let ourselves go for that one meal. Croissants, cake slices, milkshake, you name it. Our “cheat meal” become so memorable and satisfying that way. I must also add that we drink wine between 3-6 glasses per week.
With good planning, we never miss a meal, and we never stay hungry. We don’t get tempted, because we already have our fair share of unhealthy sweet and fatty foods during the week. It’s all about cooking the things you like and actually enjoying you “buffet at home”. In addition, portion control depends on your appetite level, metabolism, and body shape preferences. It’s something personal and varies from one person to another. Personally, I have found the portion that take me the 95% of the way towards being full, but stops there. I always finish eating before becoming completely full. I don’t feel hungry, but I feel like I have more space for food. Then, I distract myself. It helps me not get bloated and heavy during the day. Overtime, you will find your portion too.
Please let me know if you have questions or comments. Until next time!