We have really messy lives, which means we likely aren’t going to make it into the kitchen every night to put something healthy on the table.
As a cook, even as much as I love cooking, I actually don’t need to be in the kitchen every night. For me, the trick is when I do get in the kitchen I make it count in all the right ways.
So bring on the late nights at the office, last minute work out classes, subway delays, and happy hours with coworkers – nothing will be able to throw you off your healthy-eating game with my 5 step strategy for food prep that keeps you fit, slim and energized.
Here are 5 ways to help you prep for your busiest week ahead:
- Bank on breakfast. If you do one thing, start out by mastering breakfast. It sets you up for success the rest of the day by making sure your blood sugar is stable and you don’t get hangry by 10am (and grab the muffin your office has left over from morning meetings). I do a super easy smoothie with homemade almond milk, organic frozen blueberries, a few walnuts, and my favorite Parsley protein powder. It takes me two minutes to make (including washing the blender!) and keeps me full until lunch. If you have negative time in the morning, try prepping a chia pudding or overnight oats on Sunday and pre-portioning them out to grab and go all week long.
- Choose 1 (or 2!) recipes to make per week. I don’t plan out every meal because part of city life is unexpected dinners and schedule changes but having a couple things on hand suddenly makes a week of meals no problem. Even picking out one or two recipes each week sets you up for major success. When you’re picking out recipes, opt for recipes that keep well in the fridge for a couple of days like soups, stews, grain dishes, or even sturdy kale salads (you can always leave the dressing on the side). Change it up so are you aren’t eating the same thing every day – serve the grain salad with roasted vegetables one day and poached salmon the next or soup with avocado toast one day and crackers and hummus the next. You can also freeze half of the recipe and in just a few weeks you will have a few easy meals ready to pull out at a moment’s notice.
- Take some shortcuts. I’m all for making your life easier in any way possible. In fact, it’s my New Year’s resolution this year. But this doesn’t mean sacrificing quality or being lazy in anyway. For me, it means not always lugging home bulk items from the store but instead placing orders on Thrive Market, which helps ensure my pantry is stocked for last minute meals (Parsley members all get free Thrive Market memberships)! You don’t have to break your back grocery shopping. Stocking up on things like frozen fruit and canned beans is also great for last minute smoothies or meals and keep lots of crackers and nuts on hand for last minute snacks.
- Calendar it. This seems a little bit rigid but it can be very helpful to plan and calendar in time to cook – even just for one hour a week. When you’re establishing a new routine, it’s easy to completely forgot what you intended to do. This is something Dr. Berzin recommends for exercise too and it’s worked wonders for many of members (and myself)! It’s a good technique for anything you are trying to integrate more of into your life.
- Eat tasty food and enjoy it. Feeding yourself is one of the most primal things you can do and an amazing way to show yourself and others love. Food MUST taste great – that is what will keep you satisfied, eating healthy and having fun in the kitchen. Cook dishes you know you love. Add lots of fresh herbs and citrus to add flavor to your dishes. Also don’t be afraid to try new dishes, have fun, and invite friends over to cook with you. If you aren’t enjoying the ride, take a step back and ask yourself why. This should be fun and not a punishment. Do you hate doing dishes? Look for more one-pot meals. Is it hard for you get a meal on a table one specific night of the week? Pick something up at one of our Parsley-approved restaurants that night. You got this!
So you’re probably thinking, but what the %$#@ do you make every week? I try to head to the store on Sundays to pick up ingredients for the couple recipes I’ve picked out for the week – on weeks when I’m recipe testing it looks a little bit different. This week, I’m having smoothies for breakfast every morning, which is the perfect way for me to reset after 2 weeks on the road. I chose to make my indian-style daal bowls and a big kale salad along with a whole bunch of roasted cruciferous vegetables.
Just from that I will have the following meals this week nearly ready to go by repurposing the same ingredients with a few simple rotations and add-ons:
- Easy-indian lentil bowls with roasted sweet potatoes and cilantro-mint chutney
- Kale salad with avocado and hemp hearts
- Roasted vegetables over spinach with pepitas, and lemon-olive oil dressing
- Roasted vegetables with brown rice, chickpeas and cilantro-mint chutney
- Roasted sweet potatoes with kale salad and poached salmon
Even though it starts out as preparing two meals, meals can easily be extended and diversified with some simple add-ons. Feel free to make it your own – add avocado to whatever (duh) and lean protein if desired. I also know I have a couple of dinners out with friends and will grab lunch on-the-go during between meetings some days so I’ve factored that in.
Remember this isn’t an all or nothing game. Just because you ended up ordering pizza late night on Saturday doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Forgive yourself. Do the best YOU can whether it’s making one meal a week (and two the next, then three, and so on!) and you’ll be amazed by how quickly all the little things add up.
If you have questions or need support along the way, reach out to me or any of the Parsley Health coaches.
Lily Kunin of Clean Food Dirty City is a nutritional health cook and plant-based cook in New York City. When she is not in the kitchen, she’s with clients creating personalized health roadmaps that suit different lifestyle and dietary needs. Lily’s services include everything from private health coaching and cooking classes to customized meal planning and grocery shopping tutorials. Follow her on Instagram!