While working full time in an crazy busy ER and going to school full time to further my nursing degree, I quickly learned how integral meal prep would be for a healthy lifestyle. Being prepared really changed the game for my nutrition. But I did face numerous challenges along the way. I never had a “typical” lunch break at work or school. It was more along the lines of what I could chew up quickly in between patients or assignments. I had to learn just how to create a version of meal prep that would work well for my schedule and environment. An average meal prep plan just wasn’t going to cut it! Here are some of my best tips to make a successful meal prep plan:
- Do Not Sacrifice on Flavor! When deciding what foods you are going to include in your meal prep think about what foods that you enjoy. Are you craving spicy Mexican flavors, fresh veggies or savory meats? Find ways to bring that flavor to your meal plan. Don’t sacrifice! I promise home cooked foods are going to taste much better than whatever the office can order for takeout:)
- Do Not Spend A Lot of Time Prepping! When preparing my foods I often could not stand over a stove or spend hours cooking. Either I was in class, work or the library studying for my exams. But I still needed to get my foods prepared but needed an alternative way to do that. The biggest tool that found to overcome this challenge was my Crock Pot or slow cooker. I could cook my foods slow enough to add extra flavor without the worry of an open flame. Often times my husband would monitor that my food was not burning or stir if needed. (I do not know if slow cooker manufactures recommend it but I often left my cooker on low while I was away from home) But It worked beautifully.
- Chop Veggies Right Away! After bringing my groceries home from the store I take the time to wash all of my veggies and put them in containers. It saved me tons of time during the week because I could just grab and go:)
- Choose Healthy Finger Foods! Like I mentioned above I often didn’t have the opportunity to sit down and have a full lunch break, so instead I would pick recipes that were easy to consume quickly. I have often heard some of my nursing buddies say that it takes too much time to get things out of a lunch box when you are busy but I’ll tell ya its just as quick as picking up a doughnut from the break room table or digging in the “candy drawer”at 4pm. Its all a choice!
- Drink Plenty Of Water! Drinking plenty of water during your shift will not only keep you hydrated, (especially because most health care professionals drink numerous coffee drinks or canned energy drinks during work hours) it will increase energy and fight munchies cravings! I currently bring one gallon of water with me to work. I even spoiled myself a few months back and got a back that wraps around my gallon to keep it cold all day. Either way find a way to get enough water in.
- Package Foods Ahead of Time! Doing this will save you LOADS of time in the morning as you rush out of the house! Not to mention tons of money by cutting down of food waste. You will know exactly what you plan to eat for the entire day taking out the guess work when your blood sugar dips.
- Don’t Take Meal Prep So Seriously! I honestly think this is my most important tip! Please for the sake of all that is holy do not make this a difficult process! There is no way to mess this up. The point is to provide your body with the best nutrition possible while away from home! To prepare for the time of day when your body is ready to fuel back up.
- Play With Your Food! Make it fun and get your family involved. Create bright colored dishes or maybe interesting shapes with your food. Try out a crazy new food item! Every eat starfruit? Its delicious and super interesting to look at.
I hope you enjoyed my tips to creating a successful not-so-average meal plan. Still feeling like your not sure what to do when meal prepping? Take action! Prep one meal for the next week! Your body and energy will thank you:)
xoxo, Coach Carey