The Importance of Meal-Planning and Meal-Prep.

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” I often wonder if the individual who thought it up was trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Healthy is not easy. There’s several components that go into the equation when it comes to trying to reroute your daily diet into something that your body will appreciate more than those greasy drive-through french fries. The most important components? Meal-Planning and Meal-Prep. Lets face it though. Not everyone loves meal-planning and not everyone loves cooking. I think you have to enjoy both in order to have a deep and committed relationship with planning a menu and looking forward to prepping food. And while meal planning can be time-consuming and meal-prep, a process (think 2-4 hours spent in your kitchen on a Sunday morning) they’re also the key to a successful healthy lifestyle.
foodprep

When I started out on my journey towards becoming more fit and healthy one year ago, I actually looked forward to the process of meal-prep. I was following an e-guide program that lasted 28 days and came with an already scheduled meal-plan for the week, grocery list to check off, which foods I was prepping on what day and what my workout was. Everything is easier when simply laid out for you. But doing so, this taught me how to continue making healthy choices when the program was over. I just had to follow two rules

1. Allow yourself 5 meals a day. That’s right. FIVE!:

Now before you get all bug-eyed, hear me out. I understand you’re either looking to lose weight or maintain. Eating 5 meals a day isn’t going to contribute to weight gain if you’re eating correctly and not just anything and everything in the fridge or pantry – in fact, 5 meals allows your body to use energy stores and burn more fat.

The easiest and most foul-proof way to do it is to fit one small snack in after breakfast and another after lunch. This leaves less need to over-indulge at dinner and less chance of finding your hand in the chip bag. That’s right – no more Doritos fingers!

2. Prep twice a week.

Yes, my friends. When I say twice a week, I mean you will be eating left-overs. I’m sure when you were younger the thought of eating last night’s dinner again for dinner tonight gave you the hebeegeebees. Not anymore! Left-overs are now your body’s best friend. Please don’t imagine microwaving frozen pizza. That’s not the kind of left-overs I meant.

It’s a lot more easier for you to schedule repetitive meals for a few days. This calls for less overall prepping and saves you some cash at the grocery store. It also rids you of that “what should I cook for dinner tonight?” headache. I, personally, meal-prep on Sunday and Wednesday. That means Monday-Wednesday I eat the same breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner. Thursday-Saturday, same thing. Sunday is my exception day. I try to maintain healthy choices, but don’t have a set plan.

Seems easy enough, right? Everything is as enjoyable as you allow it to be. Prep and dice your vegetables while listening to music or use Pinterest to find healthy alternatives to your favorite foods. And don’t forget the tupperware! Not only are you going to need plenty of it, but you get to pick some out in all shapes and sizes. The cute little dressing ones are my favorite!

 

(Pictured above is ingredients for Chorizo Breakfast Burrito)

Natural Marinara Sauce

1naturalspaghetti
Spaghetti is a household staple as far as dinner for at least 2 nights per month. Sometimes even as frequent as once a week, depending on how good the spaghetti itself (or sauce) is. I like to compliment my pasta with homemade meatballs that have been soaking in marinara sauce for hours ala crockpot.

 
Because I’m doing my best to avoid as much processed food as possible, I’ve decided that spaghetti for me is best as natural as possible. The kids’ aren’t especially big on raw tomatoes, so they stick with the traditional spaghetti marinara, but I can get my husband to eat his spaghetti natural because he does like raw tomatoes. Phew, nothing like a night where you AREN’T the only oddball plate at dinner.

naturalspaghetti

The great part about natural sauce is you can mix and choose whatever ingredient to add to it as you like. I, personally, like just a slight hint of kick so I add crushed red pepper to mine. That also helps it to not taste too bland, as it can; tomatoes are good, but let’s be honest, they aren’t really flavorful.
 
Suggested Ingredients: 5 diced roma tomatoes, minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper, dried oregano, dried italian seasoning, crushed black pepper, salt.
 
Directions
1. Add all ingredients into a processor and only process for a few seconds. This allows the mixture to not only mix, but liquify just slightly. You do want some whole tomatoes.
 
 
Note: Processing is optional. Sometimes I just mix in a bowl and eat as is.