What are 2 key things that you can do to help you eat clean while also helping you to save time and money?
The answer: meal planning and batch cooking!
These helpful habits keep you organized and prepared, making it easy to eat healthfully. Experts agree that preparing our own food is one of the best means to healthy eating, but after a long day, the last thing we feel like doing is working in the kitchen. Meal planning and batch cooking may require a little bit of advanced preparation, but the benefits are huge. By taking some time at the beginning of each week to select menus, shop accordingly, and make up a few big batches of snacks and/or meals we can save time during the week, save money at the grocery store (since we are only buying what we need), save money (and calories) by not eating out as much and, as a result, mainly eat the healthy food we prepared ourselves!
Meal planning is a great way to save time and money because you can deliberately choose what you will have for the week. When you go grocery shopping, you know exactly what to buy, and when you come home after a long day of work, you know exactly what to make. Of course, the key is to plan healthy meals!
I like to take time on Sunday to plan out lunches and dinners for the week, and think about what healthy snacks to have on hand. I try to maximize food and ingredients when I can by making more than I need for dinner so there will be leftovers for my lunch, opting for ingredients that can be used in several different meals, and using food I have on hand in the fridge for inspiration. I also think about time (e.g. if I’m going to a work out or yoga class after work) and plan quick dinners for days that are busier.
It takes about 10-15 minutes to plan it all out, and I find it saves so much time during the week (plus I avoid the potential of becoming hangry from those conversations with my partner where we ask each other several times, “What do you want for dinner?” “I don’t know, what do you want?” And then just settle for something quick and easy, which is often unhealthy. Or, I end up just snacking too much before dinner). I think we can all agree that when we have healthy food available and ready for us to prepare, it’s much easier to eat healthy!
Check out the template attached to use for your own meal planning! There’s also an example in there to help you get started :)
Batch cooking is as simple as it sounds – making large batches of meals. When planning meals for the week, find one or two meals or snacks that you can make at the beginning of the week to have as lunches or dinners. For example, you could make a big batch of soup, like our Butternut Squash Soup, on Sunday, and enjoy this for lunch for the next few days. You can also make a batch of granola, like our Homemade Granola, to enjoy as a mid-morning snack during the week. Some of my go-to meals/snacks for batch cooking are soups, chili, quinoa salads, salmon burger patties (I freeze these), granola, and power balls. I also find it helpful to have the fridge stocked with vegetables and fruit to add to meals and/or have as snacks. With big batches, it usually makes about 5-6 meals. If you’re cooking for two or more, this is great to feed everyone, but if you’re cooking for one, be sure to freeze what you don’t eat! Freezing meals you make from batch cooking (e.g. chili or soups) is great to save time in future weeks too :)