Plan, prep ahead to eat healthy all week long

Plan, prep ahead to eat healthy all week long

Most of my friends would probably say that I like to eat healthy and that I like to cook, but those are not quite accurate statements about me. I choose to eat healthy and can’t spend a lot on healthy food, which means I have to cook my own food. Another caveat to this is that I work an odd schedule, so I need to be able to whip up lunch fast and eat dinner at work. So to keep my meals healthy, fast and easy I cook my lunches and dinners all at once on Saturday afternoons.

With about 15 minutes of planning and a trip to the grocery store I can prepare three healthy meals for four days for about $40 a week in about 2 hours in the kitchen. If you’re wondering — I do work five days a week, but the first day of my workweek is a Sunday, so I usually eat stuff leftover from the weekend.

I eat oatmeal and grapefruit for breakfast every morning, so that doesn’t take any preparation ahead of time. But I do make my own yogurt jars for my morning snack after my workout. Individual containers of yogurt have tons of sugar in them, so my trainer told me to start eating plain Greek yogurt. In response to that I bought four mason jars and started building my own Greek yogurt, fruit and chia seed snack jars. I make these every week, usually with plain Chobani Greek yogurt and some sort of berry…this week I had blackberries!

As for lunch, sometimes I make something that can be quickly microwaved and sometimes I prepare something to be whipped up on the stove. This week I prepared individual containers of onions, green peppers and sweet potatoes to saute with egg whites. I used Ziploc steamer bags to pre-cook the sweet potatoes and then measured everything out. The entire container, plus 1/4 tablespoon of olive oil and 8 tablespoons of egg whites, is only 209 calories but has 16 grams of protein! I paired my egg white hash with a couple pieces of turkey bacon and had breakfast for lunch all week!

For my afternoon snack I always eat an apple and then recently I’ve been making chocolate protein shakes with soy milk, chocolate protein powder, powdered peanut butter, a banana and some spinach (I buy big bags and freeze them into individual smoothie portions!). My protein shakes have 350 calories and 36 grams of protein…but the best part is that they are super tasty and keep me full even past my dinner! I used the time it took for my egg white hash to cook to blend all of my protein shake ingredients together and pack the rest of my dinner.

For dinner I like to keep it light but filling. This week I made brown rice (which can be made in the microwave..btw), baked chicken and Brussel sprouts. The entire thing is 450 calories and 51 grams of protein. Not only did the chicken and rice bowl keep me full the rest of the night, but it was also pretty tasty with some balsamic vinegar drizzled on the Brussel sprouts.

DIY do or don’t? If you’re like me and choose to eat healthy, but don’t have a schedule that lets you cook every day, this meal prep plan really does work. Eating healthy does take a little more time than eating junk food, but in the end it is worth it. For this week I spent about two hours in the kitchen on Saturday (which included cleanup) and about 20 minutes each day to pack my dinner and finish making my egg white hash. Some people don’t like the idea of eating something four days in a row, but I only make things I really like so I usually don’t mind it (sometimes the fourth day I notice that I don’t really want to eat what I make, but Fridays are my cheat days so I just think of that!). Plus, cooking for yourself saves money!

Do you have any favorite recipes to take work?

— Hannah