We know by now that healthy food is a must to ensure you feel energized and ready for a successful week. Running on just coffee and muffins just ain't gonna cut it! Packing your own food during a busy week is not only healthier, it is cheaper and keeps you from giving in to those afternoon cravings (typically a baked good of some kind filled with sugar, butter and wheat for me...delicious but dangerous). So how do you do it??
It is easier than you think and it all starts with a plan. Just like writing a to-do list for the day (Thanks Dad for instilling that in me!), write out a meal plan for the week. Doesn't have to be exact, but it will give you an idea of what you need to buy and how many meals you need to prepare. Been inspired by a new recipe? Add it to the week! Come home late on Tuesdays? Have leftovers or plan for a quick meal like a salad or fish.
Next, write out a grocery list and head to your local market or grocery store. I typically do my grocery shopping on Saturday (you can find me at the Halifax Market) and Sunday (for the rest). Give yourself a couple hours on Sunday (or whatever day works for you) to prep a few things for the week. You will be grateful for those couple hours you put aside later in the week...trust me! Here are some easy things you can prep in advance:
- Grains - Typically quinoa or brown rice for me. Quinoa really does only take 12 minutes and tastes great (one part quinoa, 2 parts water)! Add it to salads, veggies etc in lunches or as a side dish for dinner. Quinoa is not only gluten-free, it has anti-inflammatory properties and is a source of protein, fiber and even omega-3s.
- Roasted veggies - I normally roast a mix of sweet potato, carrot, turnip, beets and squash. I cube them, coat with a drizzle of olive oil, sea salt, dried herbs, and paprika and roast in a baking dish at 350F for an hour. They taste good either hot or cold in lunches.
- Chicken breast - Baked/bbq chicken breast is easy to prep in advance and add in lunches for a good source of protein. We need about 0.8g of protein per kg of body weight. Therefore a 3 ounce chicken breast, with around 30 g of protein, goes a long way for a 140 lb person for example.
- Hummus - Easy to buy but I make my own with a can of chickpeas adding garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper. You can always add things like basil, roasted red peppers etc to add a little zing. Add hummus to salads to add creaminess or take with you for a snack with veggies or crackers.
- Soup/stew - It is always helpful to make a big soup or stew on the weekend to have for the week. I'm making a carrot soup tonight from the Chatelaine magazine :)
- Smoothie - If you still have time and are not sick of the kitchen yet, you can prep things for smoothies or salad, like chopping kale, celery or fruit and store in tupperware or ziplock.
All these things are easy to throw together in the morning. If its not leftover soup or fish, I'll combine some roasted veggies with chicken or hummus and arugula, roasted sunflower seeds, avocado and cherry tomatoes...mixing it up now and then. What's your favourite combination?
Yours in health and happiness,