Quick and easy meal prep should be exactly that: quick. and. easy.
Oh, and if it’s not delicious, I’ll go ahead and l take a #4 combo meal supersized with a Dr. Pepper and an extra side of onion rings.
Meal Planning for Lazy Girls
I’ve got so much shit happening in my life that I don’t need my food causing problems, too. I need my food to be there for me when I need it.
An easy healthy meal plan is the best way to make sure my food is a reliable source of comfort instead of a pain in my ass. There are a few tricks to make meal planning actually successful and make meal plans for lazy people much easier.
Pick a Day: For the fitness world of clean eating, Sunday is a sacred day of meal prep.
For me, Sundays are a sacred day of Netflix, so I prefer to meal prep on Saturday.
Whatever day you choose, pick one and do all your prep that day. This includes prepping the meals by cooking, slicing, and dicing whatever is necessary.
Plan your week: Do you eat breakfast at home? Do you have a late meeting on Wednesday or a lunch out with friends on Tuesday?
Plan your week so you know what meals you need and what meals you don’t. Underplanning turns me into a savage dog hunting down the nearest drive-thru while overplanning creates soggy salads and rotten tomatoes.
Plan for what you need, not more and not less.
Keep it simple: Save decadent lunches and complex three-course dinners for a fresh meal, prepped meals should be simple. They are easier to prepare and taste better in a well-sealed container.
Go easy on yourself. If you’re like me (a lazy perfectionist), you’ve got your work cut out for you.
But we’re all in this together. Call some friends and get them involved, turning meal prep into a party is a great way to actually stick to your plan.
The Great Diet Debate: Taste vs Health
It’s a tale as old as time, a debate that never ends, and a topic worse than politics. Is taste really worth sacrificing your health? On Friday nights?
It’s all about give and take. Nobody can live on lettuce and air, but finding the balance between binging and starving is the golden ticket of healthy eating.
Pizza is delicious and no one will convince me otherwise. This is gospel truth in my world.
Recently, Cosmopolitan Magazines (AKA: The Women’s Bible) did a study on what pizza actually does to your body, here’s the breakdown of what they found:
- In the first 10 minutes, your brain is super-duper happy and your pleasure centers are having a party. Then the digestive enzymes start to break down the carbs into sugar.
- In 10-15 minutes the sugar hits your blood and you might get a bit more energy, but bloating may quickly follow, depending on how fast and how much you’re eating. (This is usually when the guilt sets in.)
- In 15-20 minutes your body starts to tell you to stop eating at levels of leptin rise from the increase in glucose to your cells. If you stop eating congratulations, you have the willpower of a saint. For the rest of us, the cells reject the fuel and send it to the liver to be turned into fat. What? It’s only been 20 minutes and I’m already fatter. Great.
- In 30 minutes you’ll feel full and charged (unless you’ve completely overeaten and you have moved past full into a fully sluggish and slightly comatose state. The hunger hormone is gone, you’re satisfied while the cheese and pepperoni spew into your bloodstream and increase the fat content of your blood.
- In 45-60 minutes your blood pressure might rise for a bit, which is a problem for people prone to blood clots, but most of us should be fine and we are no longer thinking about food. By this time you’ve probably gone back to work, or are on to other things.
- In 3-4 hours, by the time you’re ready to eat again because your blood sugar is back to normal, your triglycerides are still soaring, so a low-fat snack is a welcome relief at this point.
Later on, by the time you go to bed, your weight will not increase more than the actual weight of the pizza, which is probably a few ounces at best. Over time, some of that will be digested and move on through (some will not and will stay put as a friendly reminder).
Eating for taste is not going to kill you instantly, but if you have unhealthy habits already or drown slices of pizza in high-calorie beer or soda, you’re compounding issues that are harder to recover from over time.
Breakfast Meal Prep Tips
Don’t worry, I won’t even mention green smoothies because we all know that drinking weeds is not an option. There are actually lots of other options for prepping breakfast that don’t involve pureed kale. Gross.
Just make smoothies the way they are supposed to be made (sans the ice cream), prepare a pre-made bag of fruit, a little Greek yogurt and low-fat milk. Done and delicious without burping up beets all day.
The incredible-edible-egg (don’t tell me you didn’t just sing the jingle in your head, because I know you did). These little guys are a great way to start the day. Of course, most of us don’t have time to create perfectly over-easy eggs before work but you can make omelets, frittatas, or quiche ahead of time, portion it out, and enjoy it on the go.
I actually love oatmeal, which is weird because it reminds me of the hot mush Miss. Hannigan served to her orphans, but I love it. Overnight oats are good for you because they use raw oats, which keep you fuller longer. Best of all, you can put them in a mason jar and in the morning, all you need is a spoon.
If you can find a low-sodium, high-fiber tortilla, you’ve already won the burrito battle. Make 4-5 of them on Sunday and freeze them to eat during the week. Just one minute in the microwave and you have delicious hot breakfast on the go.
No, not the cake disguised as a muffin from Starbucks. Healthy muffins made at home are a great way to keep you full all week long. Traditional muffins use refined carbs like sugar and flour, but healthy options use oats, protein and yogurt.
Easy Lunch Meal Prep
I hate lunch. It’s in the middle of the day, I’m starving like I’ve never eaten before in my life, but I don’t have a lot of time. Enter takeout, but then that ends up leading to bloating which leads to guilt which leads to Ben and Jerry’s at bedtime. Meal plans for lazy people end that cycle and give doable options whether you’re at work or home during the day.
Mason jar salads
Ok, seriously I know you’ve seen pictures on Pinterest of perfectly lined up mason jars full of beautiful salad ingredients. No one is expecting you to go that far, but throwing a few vegetables into a jar and grabbing a side of salad dressing is a great way to have a salad on the go (and the lettuce does stay more crisp).
Bowls of all kinds
Anything you can put in a salad or wrap you can put in a bowl. Think burrito bowls (rice, beans, cheese, salsa), or taco bowls (meat, cheese, tomato, lettuce, beans). Any type of meal can be summed up in a delicious bowl of your choice.
These are casseroles you can make all at once (only one dish to clean) and then portion them out to last all week. Quinoa is high in protein so it’ll keep you full all day
Wait, did that just say pasta?
Yes, yes it did.
You can’t expect me to just give up mac and cheese entirely, it’s not going to happen. Rise above the SpongeBob shaped stuff and use a whole grain pasta, real cheese, add chicken and broccoli and divide it into containers for the week. You’re welcome.
This is probably my most common lunch of choice. I love wraps, but a traditional tortilla basically eats up all my calories for the day and leaves me no wiggle room. Enjoy all your favorite wraps in a low-carb/high fiber tortilla.
Dinner Meal Planning Ideas
If your dinner plans involve other people, your clean eating dreams just got harder. It may seem impossible to make a meal for your boyfriend/husband and/or kids that everyone can enjoy without packing on the calories. Alas, I am here for you. These ideas have satisfied even the pickiest dinner guests.
I love making salmon for dinner because something about eating fish makes me feel fancy. Add a little vegetables and sweet potatoes and you have a meal fit for five-star dining.
Sausage and veggies
My boyfriend is a meat and potatoes man and just starts to laugh if I even try to serve ground turkey, so this is a perfect combination. The sausage is a good source of protein and the veggies and rice make it a well-rounded meal.
Who doesn’t love fajitas? Swap out the sour cream for guacamole and swap out the steak for lean chicken or shrimp (what the heck, splurge on steak, it’s still protein). The only trick to healthy fajitas is finding a low-carb tortilla.
Sweet and spicy meatballs
You know the pre-packaged frozen meatballs from the grocery store? They are delicious, and actually good for you. Add a little low-sodium sweet-and-sour sauce and serve over rice.
Steak and veggies
Skip the ribeye and go for a sirloin, skip the mashed potatoes and go for veggies and you have an easy meal you can throw on the grill and enjoy guilt-free.
Meal Prepping Snacks for Busy Women
Snacking is my favorite pastime, it’s also the best way to ruin a healthy meal plan. Having snacks prepared prevents me from living life on Doritos (and makes the grocery budget a lot happier).
I’m not a toddler and I don’t like plain avocado pieces, but mix it with a little cilantro, onion, lime, and tomato and you’ve got yourself a healthy chunky guac that tastes amazing. Also, choose an avocado that is still firm, (squishy avocados make me gag).
Right next to the regular peanut butter is a section of the shelf dedicated to “nut butters”. Chances are you’ve breezed past this little section with your eyes focused on the giant jar of JIF (because that’s what choosy moms choose), but this little section of the nut aisle gives you all the flavor without the fat or added sugar.
I believe I could be very happy with a life working at Jamba Juice, I love smoothies and everything that goes in them.
Keep fresh and frozen fruit on hand with a bit of frozen yogurt and almond milk and blend!
Honestly, I hate egg yolks anyway because I know where they come from. Lucky for us, we live in a world where you don’t even have to separate your own egg white, buy them in a cardboard container, pour them out and enjoy an omelet that is cheap and fulfilling.
Ok, this one requires a little prep but it’s totally worth it. Buy chia seeds in bulk, mix 2T seeds with 2C of almond milk and 1T honey, let it sit in the fridge overnight and enjoy pudding the next day that is delicious and good for you. Better yet, pour the finished pudding into individual containers for a snack on the go that’s much better than those prepackaged pudding cups.
Mac-n-cheese is life and I won’t give it up, but when I’m trying to be healthier, I always go for zoodles (zucchini noodles). They are one of those foods that sound weirdly disgusting, but they are amazing and you can buy them ready-made so they are just as easy to make as plain pasta without the carbs.
Snacks help to add variety to your day which can make it easier to eat healthily. If I get bored, my mind immediately goes to Oreos, so to avoid that delicious pitfall, it’s important to keep things interesting.
How to Avoid Burn Out Doing Meal Prep
- Keep it interesting by using a Pinterest board or join an FB message group for new ideas on easy healthy meal prep or clean eating tips.
- Avoid eating the same meat for every meal. Switch it up with different varieties of protein.
- Store it all together, pick your meals for each meal to get what you’re craving at that time.
- Use seasonings to change up the flavors, even if you eat a lot of chicken – smoked, mesquite, lemon pepper, cumin, and oregano all produce very different flavors to keep things interesting.
Dieting and Dealing with Aunt Flow
We all know that time of the month when we want chocolate and chips and everyone better shut the hell up. During your period, your hormones crave these foods because they make you feel better. Because the estrogen and progesterone levels go low we feel tired and stressed and are seeking comfort food that give us opioids and make us happy (thank you Hershey’s). Anticipate this, we all know it’s coming, so be prepared when it does.
Get rid of the half-gallon of Rocky Road and the box of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and stock the pantry with only small portions of chocolate (dark is better), or chocolate covered strawberries or raspberries give you a little fruit with your comfort food.
Combining Exercise with Meal Planning
Yeah, it sucks, but that’s how you can get the most out of it. Get skinny faster and get back to eating all the pizza your heart desires… Only to start this process all over again in two months when you realize you can’t eat pizza all the time. (I’m sorry, don’t kill me)
Always start slow if you’re new to exercise, don’t jump straight into CrossFit. One, you might die. Two, you’ll hate every second. Let’s be honest, this is called Lazy Meal Prep, so we know damn well you’re not out there doing box jumps. Start by walking or jogging. It’s easy to do, doesn’t take a lot of fancy equipment and you can do it just about anywhere. Starting slowly obviously means it might take a little longer to reach your goal, but it’s easier on your body and still beneficial to your health.
Once you feel you’re able to do more, do it. Challenge yourself. Opt for a workout plan. There are thousands on Pinterest. My personal favorites are Ashy Bines plans and Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide.
Track Your Progress, B!
It’s not fun if you can’t look back and be impressed with yourself. Plus, think of the transformation Tuesday posts. Your future self with thank you. Keep a workout calendar and take progross — I mean progress pics.
Speaking of progress pics, follow other fitspirational people on Insta. There’s is nothing more motivational than when you’re sitting on your couch mindlessly perusing social media and see a someone getting off their ass to motivate you to do the same.
Here’s a list of my favorites:
Having hot workout clothes really helps me find more motivation to work out. I’m willing to do just about anything if I get a new outfit out of it. Yes, I get that they’re pricey, but you can always find deals online or with a coupon app. I use Coupon Sherpa and RetailMeNot religiously. In fact, I went to Dick’s (hehe) Sporting Goods yesterday and got two sports bras for 50% off. Score!
Ultimately, Just Make It Work for You
And if you’re not feeling it? DON’T DO IT.
The number one reason people give up is that they are doing what someone else tells them to do, but it doesn’t work for them. If you follow someone else’s plan, it likely won’t work for you.
You will get burnt out and hate every second.
Find a workout/food plan that works FOR YOU. Do what you love and you’ll love what it does to you.