When Sunday rolls around, the thought of getting to the grocery store so you can start meal-prepping for the week sounds about as fun as going for a four-mile run the morning after a late night out with friends. You have visions of Sunday being spent on the couch but you know you should really get your butt up and meal-prep because once you do it, it feels good. It's the same feeling you get after squeezing in a 30-minute workout you were completely dreading only to feel like Sasha Fierce once it's all said and done.
If you're like us and need a little motivation to meal-prep from time to time, our friends Katrina and Karena from Tone It Up know a thing or two about getting us moving... and not just in the gym but in the kitchen. They're known for fitness routines that kick our butts in the best way possible, but they are firm believers that prepping meals and snacks in advance is one of the most important aspects of sticking to the Tone It Up lifestyle.
When you’re prepared to fuel your body right, the TIU ladies say you'll be able to breeze through even the craziest days with a natural high and positive vibes. Here are the meal-prep tips they swear by to help them stick to the TIU plan week after week.
1. Even just a little bit of planning will help you in a major way.
Planning things in advance helps free up time and energy to kick some major booty in other areas of your life. Also, meal-prepping is good for your body and your budget because having tasty noshes on hand lessens the temptation to grab pricier (and less-healthy) options.
2. Healthy muffins are meal-prepping game-changers.
From oat muffins to mini frittatas, a muffin pan is one of the best meal-prep tools you can have in your kitchen. Since grab-and-go options for busy mornings are a must, making a big batch of muffins once a week is one of our favorite tips.
Keep them covered in the refrigerator for up to four days (TBH, you can probably stretch most of them to day five or just throw half of the muffins in the freezer until you're ready to eat). Need some muffin inspo? Some of our favorite muffin recipes are snickerdoodle muffins and chocolate berry muffins.
3. Wash and chop... immediately.
The minute you come home from the grocery store or farmers' market, we know you just want to unload your food and take a little break. But we're telling ya, it's best to prep your veggies right away to have them ready to nosh on. Chop carrots, celery, mushrooms, zucchini… these are great snacks to have on hand and easy additions to salads, stir-fries, or even breakfast egg muffins.
Have salad greens ready too. If you buy them by the bunch, make sure to wash and keep them wrapped in a dry paper towel in your crisper so they last. If they start to wilt, just add them to a glass of water (like you do with flowers—stems in the water) and put them in the fridge to see them come back to life.
4. Don’t be afraid of pancakes.
You probably think you can only have pancakes on special occasions because you're picturing what you get at the diner. But thanks to tons of healthy pancake recipes ranging from Paleo-friendly to vegan, and let's not forget about our favorite Perfect Fit pancakes, you can add the brunch staple to your meal-prep lineup. Because guess what? You can prep pancakes ahead of time AND they will last you all week.
Make a big batch and keep them covered in a glass container in the fridge for up to four days. Make them a little bit smaller than usual so you can simply pop ’em in the toaster oven in the morning when you're ready to eat. You can also spread a little almond butter on top for even more protein and healthy fats. For a similar flavor that's better for your on-the-go lifestyle, we also like baking muffins from the Perfect Fit pancake recipe: Just triple the recipe, throw some extra blueberries, a little bit of coconut oil, and bake at 350 degrees until done.
5. Keep it simple with protein and veggies.
There are a ton of delicious meal-prep recipes out there, but you really don't need to get fancy. Baked chicken or your favorite lean protein along with a mix of veggies are easy (and tasty) staples to have on hand throughout the week.
Just place chicken and an assortment of veggies (think sweet potatoes, bell peppers, onions, etc.) in a large baking dish, add your favorite spices (yes, sea salt and pepper are just fine!), plenty of garlic, and a little oil. Bake everything at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until cooked completely. If you're wanting a little more to go with your high-protein dinner, make a large batch of quinoa while the chicken and veggies bake.
6. Get the right gear.
You don't want to be stuck rummaging through the pantry trying to find the matching top to your food storage container. Be ready ahead of time by having various sized meal-prep containers for storing your pre-prepped food so you can store everything in the fridge or freezer with ease.
We recommend glass over plastic and of course, mason jars are easy for salads. For an easy workday lunch, layer salad ingredients for the week in a few mason jars. Just be sure to keep the dressing separate to guarantee it lasts longer.
7. Sip like you’re at the spa.
This isn't your typical meal-prep tip (who needs to prep water?!). But when you keep a large pitcher of water infused with berries, mint, and lemon slices in the fridge, you are far more likely to enjoy a chilled glass of that than reach for a sugary option (insert post-workday drink of choice here). It's also a good motivator to help you stay hydrated all week.