Welcome to my Misadventures in Meal Prepping. After countless attempts at meal prepping I officially gave up, until I found this different technique!
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When I first started my weight loss journey, meal prep was very trendy and all over Instagram. Every Sunday I scrolled through endless images of perfectly portioned and packaged meals all lined up for the week.
This seemed like the Holy Grail of weight loss! What a great idea!!
Not only would I be eating my super healthy predetermined meals, but I wouldn’t have to spend time cooking during the week. Clearly this would be a slam dunk!
My meal prepping reality.
This never ever worked for me. For so many reasons. The first time I was ambitious and designed a beautiful menu that was so healthy and amazing. That Sunday I ended up overwhelming myself so much that I burned multiple dishes and my hand.
That first attempt was basically a failure, but I didn’t get discouraged.
I kept going, I adjusted and gave it a go again. This time I simplified my recipes and nailed the actual prep. Here is my first successful attempt at a beautiful meal prep, picture circa Instagram 2016:
Most of that food went in the trash. Why you ask? Why was I spending all this time to prep food, just to not eat it!?!
I was frustrated until I realized I just did not like eating the same thing multiple days in a row. It felt like leftovers every day for every meal. Delicious food is a big component to something being sustainable.
I realized I would slave over these delicious dishes, only to immediately dump them in Tupperware and shove them in the fridge to age before I got to enjoy them. Not only that, but trying to meal prep for your spouse is near impossible, especially one as picky as mine!
Fresh food, variety, and being able to choose what we are in the mood for contributes immensely to satiety and satisfaction.
But did I give up meal prepping?
Well, for a little while I did. But I got myself back into gear! Then I discovered buffet-style meal prep. Instead of prepping and portioning individual meals, I prepared large portions of a few foods.
The first time I chose to prep two protein sources (Crockpot Chipotle Chicken & Simple Pan-Seared Grilled Chicken) and one carbohydrate source (Easy Spanish Rice). Basically half my meal was ready to go, and I would just cook a fresh vegetable.
In addition to a few easy breakfast options, my meals were basically half ready to go. I would just add a cooked veggie or a different side. The meat can be made into easy dishes that get even simpler with chicken ready to go (like my Airfryer Flautas or Build Your Own Burrito Bowl).
Meal prepping for you.
It is a great balance between having “fast food” ready to go on weeknights and ensuring we make healthful decisions and avoid food waste. You can find some delicious and healthy recipes on my favorite blog 100daysofrealfood.com, especially if you need quick and easy ones!
Recently my meal prep has evolved even further, using my freezer to stock homemade soups and broth, pre-made hamburgers, and our favorite Not Your Mom’s Chile Verde. I highly recommend getting a food saver so you can save individual portions of meals that are quick to defrost. The Figrol Vacuum sealer shown to the right is the one that I have and love. It is small and easy to store, super easy to use, and a great price!
Figure out what works best for your unique self and family. It took me quite a few attempts, trials, and mistakes to figure out what worked for us and what was sustainable. Keep trying new things until you find what feels right and is easy for you.