When eating a whole foods diet it is extremely useful to take the time to meal prep. It sounds cliche but it really does help, especially if you are a busy professional, who has a family, full time job, and/or is training. I dedicate part of a day on the weekend to my meal prep in which I get all the food myself and my family needs for the week ready and made. This then enables us to just take things out of the fridge and freezer throughout the week to make our meals without investing a ton of time. Your goal is to turn your kitchen into your own fast food restaurant but one that is extremely healthy.
If you have a family this can also be a time to get your kids involved in making the food and teaching them what healthy meals look like. They enjoy helping especially when it is something they are going to eat afterwards.
The complaint I hear the most about eating fresh vegetables is that it “takes to much time to prepare”. Well a lot of this can be mitigated by cutting your vegetables for the week before hand. After grocery shopping we lay all of our vegetables out and slice everything up. Then when it comes to making salads or side dishes throughout the week it is a matter of just taking them out of the fridge and putting them on a plate or throwing them on a sheet pan and roasting them/heat them up.
Any type of veggies work. Here are staples we get every week without fail
- Peppers (Red, Green, Yellow, Orange)
- Brussel Sprouts
- Summer Squash
- Avocados (yes I know it is a fruit)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Butternut/Acorn Squash
Frozen vegetables make this even easier as it is a matter of just taking them out of the freezer and heating them up. In some scenarios frozen vegetables can be better for you as they are frozen at the peak of freshness instead of being picked before they are ripe and shipped across the country or world. We typically by frozen broccoli, cauliflower, cauliflower rice, and carrots, but anything you like can be used.
Carbs typically require a bit more preparation than just slicing them, you have to cook them in most cases. My go to carb source throughout the week is sweet potato and squash (butternut and acorn). I bake these over the weekend during meal prep and store them in the fridge. You can bake the potatoes whole or slice them up and roast them, we usually do a couple both ways for some variety. The squash we almost always bake and store in the fridge. Finally white rice and beans are also good carb sources and can be prepared ahead of time just like potatoes and squash. I like to make my rice and beans in the Instant Pot as they are just easier/quicker to cook that way. Again put them in containers and keep them in the fridge. You can even freeze beans if you want to use them a few weeks later.
Almost all meat/fish/poultry can be prepared ahead of time. I personally don’t prepare a lot of meat ahead of time but that doesn’t mean you can’t if you want. Again it then ends up just being a matter of heating things up when you want to use them. I do occasionally roast a whole chicken (skip the vegetables and just season the chicken to make the recipe even easier) on the weekends and then divide the meat up and freeze it so when I do need a quick meal I can just take it out of the freezer in the morning and it is ready by noon.
You can make eggs ahead of time as well. Scrambled or hard boiled are great options for cooking eggs ahead of time.
Sometimes I make some salmon cakes in big batches and freeze these as well.
Another easy option is canned fish or chicken. There are lots of good options for fish, canned salmon and tuna (be careful on the tuna given its mercury content), sardines, mackerel, oysters, and anchovies are all readily available. Look for options from Safe Catch (especially for tuna low in mercury), Wild Planet, and Crown Prince. Wild Planet also offers some canned organic chicken which is a good option, although a bit pricey. When buying canned fish I find it is cheaper to do something like subscribe and save on Amazon. You can buy things like Wild Planet salmon and sardines and Crown Prince Oysters in bulk, and get a discount.
Finally jerky is a good quick protein option. The key here is to make sure it is clean and free from sugar and other nasty ingredients. Epic and The New Primal are my two favorite brands with plenty of different protein choices, from wild game to fish to chicken, even liver!
Miscellaneous Meal Prep Items
There are a few additional things that I meal prep on the weekends as well. They generally are things that can go in the freezer and be reheated when I need them.
“What you eat pancakes?” You bet, almost every morning. There is something about having some pancakes that I love. They are very small, maybe 3-4 inches in diameter so it is not outrageous but still satisfying. I love making these sweet potato pancakes. To make it even easier I buy canned sweet potato puree so I don’t have to worry about baking sweet potatoes and mashing them up. I use the entire can of puree and triple the recipe. I freeze everything and then just reheat them when I want them. I also love the Birch Benders Paleo pancake mix (so do my kids!). They are super easy to make as you just need to add water to the mix. I make the whole bag and just freeze everything.
Below is the breakfast I eat most days of the week. The only thing I actually cook are the eggs, everything else is made ahead of time.
3 Eggs cooked in a healthy fat (ghee, coconut oil) topped with guacamole
Salmon Cake topped with a little spicy brown mustard
2 Sweet Potato Pancakes topped with a little almond butter
1 Birch Benders Paleo Pancake topped with a little almond butter
Macros: 36g protein, 40g carbs, 29g fat, 540kcals
Below is my lunch salad I eat nearly everyday. The veggies are always the same, the protein source differs from day to day. There is zero cooking or cutting/chopping involved in making this salad since everything is cut and prepared during the weekend, it is just a matter of throwing it all on a plate.
Lots of mixed greens
Red and Green Peppers
Epic Bacon Bits
Small amount of feta cheese
Dressing: Some kind of Primal Kitchen dressing or olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Protein: Canned salmon, sardines, mackerel, oysters, organ meat sausage from US Wellness Meats, leftover protein from dinner the night before.
Macros (without protein or dressing): 10g protein, 22g carbs, 19g fat, 287kcals
Dinner usually follows a consistent pattern. Roasted veggies, starch, and protein. This is the one meal a day where I usually cook, but it is minimal cooking. Usually the veggies (which are pre-sliced or frozen) all go on a sheet pan and get roasted and the protein is either roasted as well or cooked in a pan. The starch is always prepared over the weekend so it is a matter of just heating it up. As I mentioned, cooking is not necessary here either if you make the protein ahead of time and have some veggies prepared
It is hard to give you a macro breakdown of this meal as it changes for me from day to day. I do take in most of my carbs at dinner usually. For example below is about 200g of sweet potato.