Having a system of cooking up a bunch of healthy food on Saturday, makes it quick and easy to eat clean all week.
Eating clean definitely takes some planning and preparation. It has to be REALLY easy to make healthy choices during the week, or else (if you’re anything like me) you won’t. You have to take the time to make healthy food that is ready to grab and go. This makes eating clean easy, and having a healthy diet then becomes a no-brainer! During the week, you just need to open the fridge, grab the meal you need at the time, or the meals you will need to pack and take with you for the day. No need to think about what you can eat, and no need to spend too much time fixing it. For me, this means cooking on Saturdays! Keep reading to see how I do it, and how to set yourself up to eat clean all week…
When You’re Most Likely to Eat Junk
Think about it: when you come home from a long day at work, and you’re tired and super hungry, the most appealing and readily available option is probably what you’ll end up eating.
If there’s leftover pizza in the fridge, you’re probably going to heat that up instead of taking the time to cut up vegetables and cook a healthy stir-fry with chicken, veggies and brown rice. When it’s late at night, you’re tired, and you have to get ready for work the next day, rather than taking the time to make a healthy lunch, it’s often easier to just grab fast food on your lunch break. Get what I mean?
Start Cooking on Saturdays! It’ll Change your body and your life!
I usually create my shopping list on Friday, and then head to the grocery store on Saturday morning. Once I get home, I get everything washed, cut, and ready to go, so I can literally throw together meals in a few minutes during the upcoming week. Taking just an hour, or at the most two, to get food prepared all at once saves me lots of time (and calories) during the week. Here’s what I do to prep for my meals for the week as well as a few examples of my go-to quick and easy meals/snacks.
Wash, cut, and pack fruit. I usually wash and cut up strawberries and pineapple, and I wash blueberries, raspberries, and grapes. I throw everything in a big bowl, so it’s ready for a quick fruit salad snack throughout the week. I also dish it out into 5 single serving containers that I can grab and take with me if needed, or have as a ready snack at home.
Wash and cut veggies. Have vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower ready to throw into the skillet for a quick stir-fry or ready to dip in hummus, Greek yogurt and seasoning as a healthy dip. I also keep bags of frozen veggies on hand to quickly heat up and toss into meals as well. In addition, you’ll want to prep veggies to go in a quick salad, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, and carrots. I take the easy way out, and I buy cherry tomatoes and shredded carrots, so all I have to cut up is the cucumber (and red pepper if I feel like it)! So NICE! I throw all my veggies in covered bowls and get bags of pre-washed salad – go for the greener, more nutritious kind with spinach, kale, arugula and romaine lettuce rather than iceberg. This way, I can quickly throw together a salad for lunch the next day
Quick lean protein. Cook lean meat like chicken, ground lean turkey or tilapia for meals throughout the week. I usually choose 3 different types of protein to keep a little variety in my diet, but still keep prepping nice and simple. Cook up your protein and then, cut it up, and store it in single serving containers to grab for lunch, to throw on your salad, or heat up with 90 second brown rice bowls. Hardboiled eggs are great to have on hand, too. I typically boil about 6-8 eggs on Saturday to take for lunches on a salad or mixed with feta cheese and Greek yogurt for egg salad.
Quick complex carbs. My three main sources for complex carbs are brown rice, quinoa, and sweet potatoes. I like to cook up the brown rice in bulk and then put a serving size (half-cup for me) in a freezer bag. I figure you may as well cook as much as you can at once, because it freezes so well. That way, I always have bags of 90-second brown rice all good to go! I do the same thing with quinoa. I bake sweet potatoes in two ways; some are whole and some are sliced and ready for a stir fry.
Examples of some of my Go-To Quick & Easy Meals/Snacks
Banana Nut Oats, serves one.
2/3 cup oats 2/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup banana slices and chopped pecans
The night before combine the first four ingredients in a small jar. Give it a good shake with the lid on. Place in the refrigerator. Top with bananas and pecans the next morning just before eating.
3/4 cup reduced fat shredded cheese of choice (I love cheddar, Colby jack, or pepper jack)
2 tablespoons of plain Greek yogurt (not necessary, but gives them a bit of fluff)
Veggies and herbs of your choice, chopped up into tiny chunks
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray, you can also line with muffin tins, just make sure you spray the inside of the muffin tins.
Fill each muffin tin 1/4-1/3 full with veggies and herbs of choice. Add in 1 tablespoon of cheese to each muffin tin.
In medium bowl whisk together egg whites, eggs, and yogurt. Fill each muffin to the top with egg mixture, pouring over the veggies already in each tin. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until risen and slightly golden on top.
Let cool for a few minutes, then remove from tin.
Egg Salad: 3 hardboiled eggs, a spoonful of Greek yogurt and .5-1 once of feta cheese. When it’s time to eat, I grab the baggies that I prepped that have yogurt and feta in them, and I have already boiled the eggs. So, it takes about 2 minutes to peel, slice, and mix 3 hard-boiled eggs into the baggies right when I’m ready to eat. I take the yolk out of two of the eggs when I peel and cut them to save calories and fat.
To-Go Salad: I like to throw the romaine/spinach pre-washed salad into a mason jar or Tupperware bowl with my pre-cut veggies (cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and shredded carrots), 3 oz. of lean protein, and a small handful (about 2 tablespoons) of nuts on top. This takes literally 30 seconds, because I only need to pre-cut the cucumbers. When I use a mason jar, I place 1-2 TB of light dressing in the bottom of the jar, and then add the lettuce, then the veggies, the protein and then the nuts to the top. When I’m ready to eat, I just shake up the jar and mix everything together.
Chicken/Fish and Brown Rice with Veggies: Grab a baggie of brown rice that has been thawed, and then your pre-cooked, pre-cut, and pre-packed lean meat out of the fridge, add some cooked mixed veggies, then just add a little bit of tamari sauce. (I have Tamari (or soy) sauce in little packets in the fridge, so that if I need to eat my lunch away from home I can still enjoy the flavor.) It takes 1 minute to put it all in a bowl, and then just heat it up in the microwave when I’m home.
Quinoa Salad: Pre-cooked Chicken breast and then for the side, I add my pre-made quinoa with cherry tomatoes and pre-washed/pre-cut cucumbers, add a dash of balsamic. Easy and so good!
Chicken/Fish and Brown Rice and Veggies: Same as lunch.
Tacos: Baggie of brown rice, rinsed black beans, and pre-made chicken (or fish) all go into a skillet with some seasoning. Heat up 2 small corn tortillas in the microwave, and it’s ready to eat! Takes 5, MAYBE 10 minutes to make.
Sweet Potato, Chicken & Vegetables: When the chicken and vegetables are already prepped from Saturday, literally all you have to do is put a little seasoning on it and get it in the microwave. I like to add cinnamon to the sweet potato.
I eat 5-6 small meals each day. It looks like this
Mid-morning snack: 10am
Mid-afternoon snack: 3pm
Sometimes I eat a late-night snack. Each meal is spaced about 3-4 hours apart. This helps stabilize my blood sugar and keeps my metabolism from getting sluggish.
Snacks: This one’s easy – I usually have a protein shake for my snacks, but when I’m craving something sweet or munchie, I have some of that fruit salad I made on Saturday or I dip prepped vegetables in hummus or Greek yogurt.
My favorite Protein Shake:
1 scoop of Chocolate Protein Powder, 1 Cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 TB natural cacoa powder (I like my chocolate!).
I hope this general guide to food prepping will help get you started. Being prepared is the key to my fit life. A little time investment on Saturday can literally free up anywhere from 5-10 hours per week for me. That saved time is an incredible gift that you should want to give to yourself too!