Everyone is meal prepping right now. It’s like: if you don’t meal prep – you’re not allowed to breathe. Let alone eat, if you’re trying to stay healthy or lose some weight.
Well as much as everyone else is excited about having their meals ready for the whole week already on Sunday, all I have to say is: I hate it.
I hate all about it.
Hate that I have to eat old food on Wednesday already.
I hate that I can’t be spontaneous about my meals (even if they’re healthy) and just decide in the moment what I want.
I actually enjoy the whole planning part. But I hate the prep part.
Most of all I hate eating old food.
That’s why whenever I tried to make anything to eat ahead (like more than 2-3 days) it landed in the trash. My heart breaks every time.
I don’t understand how people do it.
Before I tried “meal prepping” and started throwing away so much food, I was actually better at keeping a healthy diet and my weight down.
Once I started trying to meal prep and throw out food like a crazy person, I also gained 10 pounds (which wasn’t my goal).
Whenever I had something “homemade” ready for me, I would start craving something completely different. But since I didn’t have the time (and desire) to cook it at that moment, I’d just go out and buy junk food. Having that meal ready for me did not help at all. If I want something else, I’ll either go get something else or cook it.
I have never liked junk food. I still don’t like it. But at that moment, it just feels right.
On top, because I hate throwing away food, I’d eat what I prepared too. So yeah, double meals. Double calories.
How do you stay healthy if you hate meal prepping and are not willing to dedicate your entire life to cooking and grocery shopping?
Well here are a few solutions that work for me. And if you like being spontaneous and hate eating old food, maybe these will work for you as well.
Note: I’m not saying meal prep is bad and doesn’t work – it just doesn’t work for me. If it works for you – awesome! If not take a look below.
1. Grocery shopping
The biggest challenge with eating healthy is having fresh produce. When you only go to buy food once a week having fresh fruits and vegetables for the rest of the week can be tough…Fruits and vegetables spoil fast.
Especially greens like spinach. So what I do is:
- When I do buy spinach I buy half of it fresh and then I buy some frozen as well.
- The first 2-3 days I use the fresh spinach for salads, smoothies – anything and the last 2-3 days I use the frozen spinach.
- In the last few days, I depend on fruits and vegetables that don’t spoil that fast to get my vitamin C. Lemons, oranges, broccoli, cabbage, pineapple, watermelon – all that can keep fresh for a long time.
2. Half meal prep
Just because I don’t like to eat a 5-day old salad, doesn’t mean I can’t prepare some of the ingredients ahead. It doesn’t take that much time and saves me the excuses.
You can pre-cook quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, some chicken…Just about anything that you’d need already cooked to assemble the meal you want to eat.
When you have that “main painful ingredient” ready, it’s easy to throw together a healthy and delicious dinner spontaneously in 5-10 minutes.
You can also pre-make anything like hummus or other dips – they keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. This way a delicious Buddha bowl or a lettuce wrap, for example, get ready in no time when you actually want to eat those.
3. Make breakfast easy
As much as I’d like to eat pancakes every day, I don’t have time to make them.
Better choice: Overnight oats. Or if you actually know a good recipe: chia pudding. I have never tried chia pudding to be honest with you.
But overnight oats are probably my favorite breakfast.
Reason? Taste amazing and they’re ready in the morning. Here’s my favorite recipe.
But. If someone tells you, you can actually store overnight oats in your fridge for 5 consecutive days, tell them to come and eat those overnight oats themselves on the fourth day. They spoil within 2, max 3 days.
Now, if you really don’t have even 2 min in the evening:
- make a mix with the dry ingredients on Sunday
- if you want to take it a step further – fill them into small jars for each day.
- the night before just add some water/plant-based milk/yogurt and some frozen berries (optional).
- on the very morning – some nut/butter and nuts.
That’s it. No cooking, no baking, just a little mix mix, and fridge fridge. (I am proud I just said that).
Other than that you can bake some healthier muffins ahead, have leftovers from lunch/dinner or just take 5 min to make this avocado toast.
4. Plan 20min every other day to “cook” something you actually like.
Once you have all the heavy stuff ready (like grains & protein) – you can make a delicious meal every other day. Just set aside 20min, whenever possible for you. And show up to this appointment. This way you’ll be eating fresh every day.
WARNING: If you’d like to make salads ahead, do not put the dressing or tomatoes (if there are any in the recipe) inside the night before. This would make a salad soggy. Basically any food that has too much fluid in it, will not do great after a day in a salad. Instead put those ingredients right before you eat.
5. Eat more raw foods
I recently started experimenting with more raw “cooking”. No, no raw meat, fish or eggs – I mean nuts, seeds, spices, fruits and vegetables.
And let me clear this up: I am not a raw vegan. I just like trying out new things.
And I admit, in the past whenever someone would tell me they’re raw vegan, I’d think “You’re insane”. But now I kinda get it.
The food tastes amazing – like nothing I could’ve imagined and I feel so good after that. It’s delicious. And the cooking part is super fast. You basically put things in your food processor and the magic happens within 5 minutes. Then your meal is ready for the next 2 days.
6. Have healthy snacks around
Snacks are very important for healthy weight loss. They keep you going through the day, prevent the whole starvation madness, which helps you make better choices for your main meals.
But healthy snacks do not need to be complicated. You do not need a ton of recipes.
I used to prepare so many healthy snacks, thinking I need to be ready when I get hungry and I realized: they actually made me gain weight.
The reason: I was eating way too many of them. Just because they were healthy, I’d eat the whole batch in a day. Stupid decision.
When you do prepare healthy snacks – make one recipe for the whole week and eat one serving a day. The good thing is – you can actually keep those healthy snacks in the freezer, so that’s easy.
If you don’t have time to make any snacks and don’t really crave something cookie-like go ahead and snack on fruit or nuts.
7. Freeze smoothie ingredients in zipper bags
Now this one I actually don’t do, but I think it’s a great idea if you don’t have any time.
Here’s what to do:
- precut fruit and vegetables for your smoothies
- divide them into portions
- fill them in freezer bags.
- each day you take out 1 bag and just throw the ingredients into the blender with some water or plant-based milk.
- then you blend and tadaa smoothie is ready in less than 5 min.
8. Know what you will order at a restaurant
Knowing how to actually make the right choice at a restaurant or when you’re out will save you a ton of wondering around and fat on your belly.
Make a decision ahead and stick to it. Go for soups or salads or for a whole-grain wrap when on the go.
Do not overthink this. This is not a decision that your life depends on.
And if you do buy something like pizza sometimes – don’t feel guilty, just share with someone. And don’t make that a regular thing.
9. Stop expecting everything to be perfect
That’s just a little bonus tip from me. Stop expecting that your diet needs to be perfect or that you have to be prepared to stay on track. That if things don’t go the way you planned or imagined they will not work at all.
Planning is great, but sometimes we use it as an excuse to actually not do what we need to do.
Yes, you can make things a lot easier for yourself by getting rid of all the junk food in your kitchen and by buying and preparing food for the whole week. But the only thing that matters in the end is the choice you make in the very moment.
If you learn to consistently say no to junk food and yes to whole natural foods – that’s all you need to succeed and be healthy. Even if you have to do it over and over again in the beginning, once you learn it – that’s all you need.
And that’s it from me, hope this helps you, it definitely helps me more than preparing a ton of food in one day and then thinking I actually have to eat it.