A Sunday Well Spent Brings a Week of Content

For those who don't know, since November I have been working an hour and 20 minutes from home. To add some extra fun to the equation, I am commuting between time zones. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining; I'm grateful for the job and I enjoy it. But my day starts at 6am and I get back home at 7pm. THEN I have to find the energy to go workout. By the time I start thinking about dinner, it's well after 8pm. My point in sharing all of this is I, like many other Americans, could use EVERY excuse in the book as to why I don't have time to pack my own lunch in the morning, or why I could justify skipping a workout, or why it would be way easier to pick up something on the way home from work. That's why meal prep is SO important for me. I'm all about corny cliches, and this week's blog marries two of my favorites: "Failing to plan is planning to fail" & "A Sunday well spent brings a week of content".

For those who are unfamiliar with meal prep, I thought I would share some things I do to help meal plan successfully.

1. Come up with a plan for the week. Do you have any [planned] late work nights that might require packing any extra snacks or meals so you don't reach for the vending machine in a moment of hunger? Any business lunch meetings that you cannot get out of where you will just have to try to pick something on the lighter side of the menu? Are you meal planning for yourself or other people? It's a good starting place to figure out how many meals you actually need to come up with. When I plan my week, I know that I am responsible for getting enough groceries for my morning snack, my lunches, my afternoon snack, and dinner for both Cam and I. Camron is able to come home for lunch everyday, so I know that he will make his own lunches or eat some leftovers.

2. Keep an ongoing list of recipes. Camron and I have several go-to recipes that we enjoy. We prefer recipes that already have macronutrients listed (read more here about macros here) so we don't have to calculate them on our own. Every Sunday we sit down together and decide what we will have for dinner each night. Then we will take an inventory of our cupboards and fridge to see what we all need. Then one or both of us heads to the grocery store.

3. Set aside a block of 2-4 hours to dedicate to meal prep. This is really the point of meal planning. I would much rather take 2-4 hours on a Sunday to get done as much as possible so we have less stress during the week than make it up as we go. After the grocery shopping trip, my time is spent as follows: I dice up 4-5 chicken breasts, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, throw all the diced chicken on there, season, and fill the baking sheet with some low sodium beef broth so it doesn't dry out while cooking. Then I throw it in the oven for 30 minutes at 350. While that's baking, I start 5 servings of brown rice. Brown rice takes 45 minute to cook, so while that's going, I chop up some broccoli and steam it. When everything is done, I divvy it up into 5 containers. Two go into the fridge, and the other 3 go in the freezer. Boom - my lunches for the entire week are finished. My weekday mornings literally consist of pulling a container out of the fridge or freezer and heading to work. A lot of people ask me whether I get tired of eating the same thing for lunch every day. Honestly, it doesn't bother me. I like knowing my lunches are super on point, so I can be a little more liberal at dinner when other people are involved (Read: A husband who is totally on board with eating healthy, as long as that doesn't mean sacrificing flavor). To be quite honest, this routine works really well from me. It took me from the thought process "Food is for fuel, not pleasure" (how boring?!) to the realization that food is fuel, yes, but that doesn't mean it has to suck. Shout out to my husband Cam, the flavor profile king, for help with that one.

4. Chop vegetables, prepare marinades, or get slow cooker meals ready. After I deal with my own lunches, I do anything possible to make our weeknight meals easier. It's not realistic to actually make 5 meals and just warm them up throughout the week (yuck) but there are plenty of other things you can do to save time throughout the week. For example, if we have any meat that needs to marinade, I will prepare the marinade and put it all in a gallon ziplock bag. In my opinion, it never hurts to over marinate!(Footnote: Except when we're talking about salmon. Salmon should only marinate for 15-20 minutes or it will get mushy. Learn from my mistake). If any recipes call for chopped veggies, I will get them chopped up and throw them in a tupperware so on any given night they can just get thrown in a frying pan. If we have a slow cooker meal that requires any prep, I prepare everything and put it in a large tupperware. Then in the morning, Cam can just dump everything in the crock pot. If we are having sweet potato fries one night, I will peel and cut the fries so we can just toss them in oil and throw them in the oven when needed. You get the idea. All of this adds up to precious minutes that can just seem like too much work after a long day.

So there you have it! It is so simple and helps me feel SO much more prepared for the week ahead. A couple of hours on a Sunday is so worth it to me to make our weeknights easier and help us stay on track.