Meal Prepping + Clean Eating
by Lauren Cave
Getting back into the swing of school or a busier work schedule is hard, but thankfully a good diet and living a healthy lifestyle can ease that stress! Whether you want to cook once a week or learn a nutrition tip or two, every little step counts!
To help make cooking less of a burden, try planning out a rough draft of your meals for the week. This helps make buying groceries more efficient, and even if you don’t stick to your exact plan you will still have a few items in your fridge to pull out and throw together if you’re in a hurry! Meal planning is also a great tool to help you not overspend on groceries! If you have any free time, meal prepping is a huge time saver – I am a huge advocate for meal prep these days if you are trying to eat out less!
Keep your pantry stocked with spices like Himalayan pink salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and coriander. I also really like cooking with fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, dill, and chives. Keeping a variety of flavors in your cabinet makes it easier to whip something together! In addition to keeping spices and herbs on hand, whenever you go to the grocery store stock up on enough fresh produce for the week and buy canned tomatoes, beans, and corn because they are versatile and have a long shelf life! It is also helpful to get in the habit of making a stop at the grocery store every couple of days to pick up the meat you want to cook with that night so that it is more fresh.
If you are catching on to the clean eating trend and are gradually becoming more health-conscious, here are a few tips to minimize excessive calories and maximize those nutrients!
To begin, shop for groceries mainly around the edges of the store. Don’t walk down the aisles (unless you need spices or grains) because that is where the more processed foods are, and avoiding those areas will make it less tempting to buy those foods.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I love to have colorful meals! Colorful foods like fruits and vegetables are full of powerful nutrients called antioxidants, which fight off carcinogens and help with many other beneficial processes in your body! Eating a wide variety of foods of different colors help the antioxidants work better, and don’t forget that white is a color too!
- Eating more fruits and vegetables helps raise energy levels as well. I think sweet potatoes are a super ingredient so I always buy a few at the grocery store each week. They go with everything, they are easy to meal prep, and they fill me up!
With that being said, I am by no means a vegetarian. I love meat, but there are a lot of processed meats that should be avoided if possible. Thankfully, there are protein options that are beneficial for your body! I like to eat wild-caught salmon because it is rich in omega-3s which help decrease the risk of heart disease and aid in brain function, beans, hormone-free chicken, tuna, and grass-fed beef. It is important to look for the labels on meat like “grass-fed” beef because that means the animal was fed a plant-based diet, making more nutrients available to us as we eat it!
- As far as fats and oil, don’t be afraid if something has fat in it! Our bodies need good fats like mono- and polyunsaturated fats for many processed like brain function, heart health, and cell membrane support. Healthy fats can be found in foods like fish like wild-caught salmon, avocados, walnuts, and in oils like olive and canola! Canola oil has been proven to be a more balanced source of omega 3s and omega 6s (or polyunsaturated fats), which is why I tend to buy it more than other options. Fats also help satiate you. For me, I normally need some kind of fat in my meals to feel satisfied after eating so I like to use almond butter, avocados, or plain greek yogurt! Mix one of these in a smoothie (makes them creamier), put on a sandwich, or have as a side!
And last but not least, lets talk about grains. Try to choose whole grain options over refined grains because whole grains still have the nutrients that we need! I keep a bag of quinoa on hand as well as brown rice and rolled oats. Quinoa and brown rice are easy to throw into most meals for lunch and dinner and make a great salad topping! Oats can be used in many recipes but my favorite is using them to make overnight oats because it is super easy to make and the perfect breakfast for running out the door in the morning! Grains are necessary to eat because they are packed with fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and aids bowel function, and B vitamins which help the body use the energy from protein, fat, and carbohydrates. And yes, healthy carbohydrates are good for you! Good carbs are found in foods fruits, vegetables, and grains!
If you do find yourself eating more plant-based foods and cooking a little cleaner, don’t be afraid to eat more than you normally do! Healthier foods are more nutrient-dense, which means they have more nutrients and less calories unlike many processed foods which have more calories and less nutrients. When you eat nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains, it is completely normal to not be as full. Eat the real foods and eat more of them!
P.S. Go follow @delish.nutrish on Instagram!