By: The Nutriworks Team – Kelsey Hampton MS, CSSD, RDN, LD
Menu planning is a tool that can improve nutrition habits and lead to less headache in the kitchen during a busy work week. There is no one perfect way to prep your food for the week, and if it sounds like a daunting task, keep in mind that any prep you get done ahead of time will be helpful. Whether it is chopping fruit and veggies for snacks, cooking your proteins, or portioning out snack baggies, any form of prep can set you up for a successful week.
Here are 3 simple steps to get started with planning and prepping your meals!
First things first: Think about the week ahead. Look at your family’s schedule, upcoming events and work commitments to assess what you need to plan around. Create a spreadsheet for the week that allows you to write notes regarding your schedule for each day. You can include your training schedule and any planned meals out. You’ll also want to designate days where you’ll have time to cook versus days where you’ll rely on meals that are leftovers or quickly pieced together. Once you have an idea of the number of meals you’ll be making each week, select your recipes and snack choices, and consider doubling or tripling the ingredients to allow for leftovers.
Make a list and grab your ingredients: All meal prep and cooking starts with a stocked fridge and pantry. Keep a permanent list of the staple ingredients you buy on a weekly basis, and add additional items each week based on the recipes you plan to prepare. Going into the store with a plan, and list, helps reduce impulse purchases and keeps you on track with your nutrition goals.
Budget time: Just like you planned your meals for the week, make sure you block off time to prep your ingredients, meals and snacks. A plan is great, but the follow through is even more important. Remember, any time you can give to prepping is helpful. Even 30 minutes one day to prep produce and 30 minutes another day to prep protein will help meal time run more smoothly during a busy week.
If you can execute these three easy steps, you are well on your way to becoming a certified menu planner! Here are a few more tips to keep in mind to maximize your prepping:
– Ask for help. Kiddos can wash produce, tear lettuce for salads, and set out containers for prepped food. Use your older kiddos to help with simple chopping and cooking grains.
– Prepare foods that can be used in several meals and snacks. For instance, quinoa can be used to top a salad, as a side dish or as an oatmeal alternative at breakfast.
– Plan for backups. In the event that you aren’t able to prepare your meals or your schedule changes last minute, have back-ups on hand. Deli meat, tuna packets, frozen convenience meals, frozen veggies and low sodium canned soups are great items to grab when plans change. Keep in mind that these are all much better than stopping at a drive thru!
If you don’t have any experience with menu planning, these tasks may seem overwhelming. To ease the process of planning and prepping your meals, take a look at our sample menu plan and our training snack guide attached here for ideas and inspiration for creating your own weekly plans. And, if you just aren’t up for planning, let Nutriworks create custom weekly menu plans for you! We’ll plan your meals and snacks around your schedule and training, and send you a new menu and corresponding shopping list each week. Then, all you have to do is shop and cook, and you’re good to go! All clients leave their first session with a 4-day sample menu and can purchase on-going planning services as needed, too.
Nutriworks is a sports nutrition consulting company with Registered Dietitians that help active individuals of all ages and skill levels optimize their nutrition. We believe that if you are active, you’re an athlete, and learning proper nutrient balance, timing and portions can help you meet your weight, health and performance goals. We offer in-person appointments in Fort Worth, Dallas and Keller, as well as virtual appointments for athletes around the country.
Training Snack Guide:
Not sure what to eat before, during, or after your runs? We’ve provided a few great ideas of snacks you can grab to ensure that you’re fueling every run properly!
Before run snacks:
- Dried Fruit
- Granola bars
- Toast or bagel with jelly or honey
During run snacks:
- Sports Drinks
- Sport jelly beans
After run snacks:
- Smoothie with protein powder and fruit
- Greek yogurt with fruit or granola
- Protein bar and a sports drink
- Chocolate milk