How to Shop Once, Cook Once, and Eat Clean for an Entire Week.

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We all know that when we eat better we feel better, so when did health take a back seat to convenience? I get it, life is busy, but I am a firm believer that we are what we eat, and we might as well be full of all the good things in life. The most common issue I hear from people looking to eat better is that they simply don’t have the time to prepare 3 healthy meals (plus snacks) a day. The result is more eating out, more frozen dinners, more additives and preservatives… and less results. “Eating clean” is a phrase being thrown around like a hot potato right now but very few people know how to make it work for them despite a busy schedule and/or a disinterest in cooking, but rest assured that it is possible. All it takes is some effort and these 4 simple steps.

What is important to understand is that eating clean is not a quick fix diet, but rather a lifestyle change that takes a great deal of commitment and organization in order to be successful. Just like with anything in life, if you want it you must make it a priority. So, how do you eat clean when you’re busy, stressed, and crunched for time?

Meal planning and prepping.

Shop once, cook once (maybe twice), and eat clean all week. I usually designate my Sunday morning to shopping, and Sunday evening to meal prepping. I will typically only prep for lunches and dinners because I enjoy making my breakfasts from scratch, but you can certainly meal prep for that as well. Keep in mind that you will be cooking everything at once, so it is important to try and use a few different cooking methods besides the oven. I steam cook my vegetables and often use a crock pot. Raw foods often go forgotten but they are super easy to prep! Think fruits and raw veggies in ziplock bags to snack on at work. So lets get started, first and foremost…

Step 1: Make a shopping list

If you count it all out, you have 7 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to prepare for in addition to snacks. That is over 20 meals, so you  want to make sure you mix in a few different options and don’t get bored. When picking recipes, try to keep these things in mind:

  • pick recipes that are simple and easy to make and yeild multiple servings, no one wants to be in the kitchen all night
  • aim for total cook time to be under 30 minutes
  • meals that are freezer safe
  • are things you actually like to eat. Don’t force yourself to eat kale if you don’t like kale, eating healthy should be enjoyable!

Here is an example of what I eat during the work week:

Bfast:
Overnight oats
2 egg omelete with veggies
Overnight oats
2 egg omelete with veggies
Overnight oats
2 poached eggs on Ezekeil bread
Overnight oats
Snack:
Apple with peanut butter
banana
Fruit salad
Dark chocolate
Fruit salad
Apple with peanut butter
Fruit salad
Lunch:
Kale salad
Vegetable chili
Vegetable chili
Kale salad
Kale salad with tuna
Vegetable chili
Chicken and broccoli quinoa bowl
Snack:
RXBar
Dark chocolate
RXBar
Banana with peanut butter
Dark chocolate
RXBar
RXBar
Dinner:
Chicken with quinoa and veggies
Salmon with broccoli and wild rice
Chicken with green beans and quinoa
Salmon with quinoa & asparagus
Chicken and broccoli quinoa bowl
Kale salad with tuna
Salmon with veggies

As you can see, I kept the snacks really simple (you can find my favorite protein bars RXBAR here), and like to cook many of the ingredients separately (like chicken or quinoa) so that I can create a few different meals with them and give my meal plan some variation. Choosing simple snacks speeds up the process and only require packing in sandwich baggies or small Tupperware containers for easy storage. For the meals themselves, I make keep 3 days worth in the fridge and store the extra in the freezer. I have found it’s best to store them in glass containers for reheating purposes, which brings me to the next part of meal prep:

Step 2: Food Storage

If you are making over 20 meals for the week you need to be able to store it all properly. I eat a lot of produce so I use storage containers that help make my fruits and vegetables last the entire week. There are products like Fridgesmart containers that can help make produce stay fresh longer. I am also a big fan of mason jars for overnight oats and salads. Look for multiple sizes of Tupperware and ziplock bags, as well as glass storage containers for bigger meals, and thermoses for soups.

Step 3: Grocery Shop

Make your grocery list. I always like to go in prepared, so I put together a list beforehand to make it as quick and easy as possible. The most important part of eating clean is knowing how to navigate a grocery store. All of the good, whole foods are on the perimeter of the store. The inside aisles contain the foods that have a significant shelf life, which means preservatives and artificial sweeteners you should not be consuming. Keep it simple; fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, condiments, meats and frozen foods. I always aim to get frozen foods last.

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Step 4: Cooking and Storage 

I love to throw on some music and zone out for the hour of cooking and meal prepping, so this is the fun part! Start with the meal that takes the longest first, then while that is cooking start preparing the next ones. If you have a harder time multi-tasking, try to write out how long each recipe requires and cross each one off as you go. Divide the bigger meals into storage containers as you go, and place the ones for later in the week in the freezer. This is where I love glass containers because they are easy to reheat in the oven as opposed to a microwave, which can make foods soft and mushy when re-heated. Breakfast is the only meal that I make from scratch every morning, unless I am in a crunch for time and end up having my overnight oats when I get to work. I usually make a few of those in mason jars to have ready for the week (just in case). Lastly, make sure you label all your food with dates to help keep track of when food goes bad.

healthy eggplant pizzas, recipe here

And there you have it! For those of us who are short on time, or in college, it is so easy to rely on ready-made or cafeteria foods, so you really have to take matters into your own hands if you want to control what is going into your body. There are so many unknowns when food is made for you that can easily be avoided by cooking yourself. Not to mention for those of us who may be on a budget, making your own meals is significantly cheaper than eating out throughout the week. Just like working out, eating healthy should become a priority but that can only be possible if you set aside the time and make the effort. And so while designating your Sunday to meal planning may seem like a nuisance, it can easily become a part of your routine and eventually your lifestyle, like it has for me!

If you meal prep, or have a favorite clean meal feel free to share it in the comments down below!

xx Kelly

 

 

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Hi, I'm Kelly! Welcome to my blog, a source of inspiration that covers everything from health and fitness, to home and travel and (everything in between!)

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