It might seem like a pain, but a few hours on the weekend will save you time and money throughout the week.
And I know by now I sound like a broken record, but I’ll say it again: preparation is the key to success.
Picture it: It’s Monday morning. You are rushing around the house trying to get pets walked and kids out the door. You’re running late yourself so you grab a banana thinking that will hold you throughout the day. It doesn’t. So you go to your office vending machine and grab a Snickers, because that’s what the commercials advise. Well, now you’ve set off a chain reaction of not so great choices. You feel sad, hungrier, and tired.
Now, Picture it: It’s Monday morning. You spent a few hours on the weekend prepping your snacks and meals for the week. You packed your lunch the night before. You are rushing around the house trying to get everyone settled and ready for the day. You grab your lunch before you run out the door. You find yourself hungry around 10am so you grab your fruit salad and start munching. You are loaded up with healthy foods that will give you energy throughout the day. You feel happy, full, and energized!
You see what I did there?
But, seriously, just do it…
So, where do you start?
- Variety is the spice of life! I spend a good chunk of time looking for fun and different recipes on Pinterest (or creating my own). I suggest you pick a few new things to try each month to combat boredom.
- Get yourself a good list of what meals you want to have and for which days (lunches & dinners) and write it down. This can be done on a white board, a piece of paper, your phone, etc.
- Think about what snacks you would like to have throughout the week. I always shop the produce aisle to stock up on sustainable fruits and veggies. Sustainable as in you can slice & dice on Sunday and they will last until Friday – I go for strawberries, pineapple, grapes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, apples, peppers, and the like.
- You will need foil, small snack bags, and plastic storage containers. You can get all of these at the dollar store to save some money.
Shop till You Drop
- I like to go grocery shopping at odd times when I know it won’t be overcrowded and I can be in and out in under an hour. Sunday 8am or Tuesday 10pm. (I’m not suggesting you do it this early or late, but you get the idea.)
- If your grocery store has a scan as you go system, bring your own reusable bags and take advantage of it. This will also cut down on time during checkout.
- Work the parameters of the store first – produce, eggs, meats, frozen veggies.
- Only go down the middle aisles if ABSOLUTELY necessary. This will prevent any unnecessary processed foods from jumping into your cart. They have a habit of doing that, you know.
Slice, Dice, & Box it up
- Divvy up your portions as soon as you get home. If you wait, it won’t happen. Trust me.
- Put away all of the items that don’t need separating.
- Cut up your fruit and veggies and box them up. Bag finger foods like carrots and grapes.
- Separate your meat by serving size. ¾ of a cup should be a rule of thumb. I use my red Fix container to help. Wrap in foil and freeze accordingly – if you will be cooking for two, freeze two portions together, etc. (Tip: I like to write the date and designated meal on the foil with a sharpie so I know what it is and when to take it out of the freezer.
- Separate crackers, pretzels, nuts, etc. if you bought any, into plastic bags by serving size on the bag/box.
- If you leave it ALL for the end, this will be the worst part of the whole process.
- Clean up as you go, discarding fruit and veggie waste, meat wrappers, etc. so that at the end all you have to do is wash your dishes and disinfect your surfaces.
See, it’s not really that bad! And you could take it a step further and make soups, stews, or chili to have throughout the week as well. But I’ll save that how-to for another day.