Happy Wednesday, y’all! I’m excited to be back this week to share not only some of the tastiest breakfast bars around, but my newest addition to my meal prepping tips. If you know me, you know that I am all about meal prep. Not only does it cut down on time in the morning, but it sets me up for success throughout the week. When I take time on Sunday to prepare snacks and meals for the week, I am able to avoid the last minute “Oh no! What will I have for lunch today?”, or grabbing chips, candy or whatever else I find to eat as my snacks. I am also a very structured, type-A person, so having everything organized and ready for the week brings a smile to my heart.
(If you are just here for the food, click here to jump down to the Berry Breakfast Bars recipe! I getchu.)
How to Meal Prep Like a Boss
In the past I’ve covered tips ranging from planning your time, how to store your food, the beauty of muffin tins, chopping veggies ahead of time, and planning your menu. Today I want to dig a little deeper, and focus on two specific things: being intentional about the foods you eat, and the doubling trick.
I can’t stress this tip enough. Before I realized the importance of being intentional about the foods I ate, I was all over the place. My blood sugar would drop like crazy, I ate way too many empty carbs, and I slacked in the veggie department. I honestly have to thank the 21 Day Fix for showing me how much of each food group I need throughout the day, and Tone It Up which taught me when to eat those foods. I never realized how important it was to be intentional about what I ate, but now that I do, I’m never going back. Trust me- it’s a game changer.
I’ve blogged recently about what to eat for breakfast (here), what NOT to eat for breakfast (here), what to eat while training for a race (here), and my favorite healthier food swaps (here). If you’ve had the opportunity to read those posts, then you understand what I mean when I say the foods you eat really do matter.
When it comes to meal prepping, I plan out my entire week’s worth of food. That includes what I eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I make sure I follow the guidelines I’m sharing below, and it takes all the thinking out when I am packing my food for the day. Planning ahead like this is also great for grocery shopping! I never buy too much or too little of an ingredient when I know exactly what I am making every single day (read more grocery shopping tips here).
Personally, I try to eat a meal with some form of protein in it four times a day (breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner). I’ve come to find that those are the times of day that I need a little oomph, and they’re spaced out in a way that prevents me from having random blood sugar crashes. For breakfast and my afternoon snack, I normally opt for a protein smoothie, eggs, or something quick and easy like turkey roll ups or avocado toast. At lunch and dinner my protein is more meat based, and normally consists of chicken, ground turkey, lean beef or the occasional fish, which I pair with lots and lots of veggies.
Fruits & Veggies
When you think healthy, normally the first thing to come to mind is fruits and veggies (amiright??). You see lots of salads and chopped fruit, and maybe that depresses you a bit. I get it… Fruits and veggies can be boring, especially if they are raw and unseasoned. But guys… they don’t have to be! It’s all about finding the recipes that work with you, and that get you excited to get in your greens.
When it comes to meal prep, I plan for around 2-3 servings of fruit a day, and as many veggies as I want. I limit the amount of fruit I eat, and try to only have it in the morning (with exception to my occasional afternoon smoothies), mostly because they are higher in sugar and I don’t need a ton of sugar coursing through my system. Veggies, on the other hand, are more of a free-for-all in my book. I stick to lots of greens (like spinach, kale, brussels, asparagus and zucchini) and less starchy veggies (such as mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots and squash). I normally eat my vegetables later in the day with my lunch, afternoon snack and dinner!
Carbs & Fat
Now for the two biggies- carbs and fat. I’ve talked about some misconceptions people have had over the years concerning these two things, and I’ll continue preaching this till the day I die: they are not your enemies!
As a runner, I need the carbs to keep me energized and to fuel my body for the run ahead. Even if you aren’t training for a race or super active, your body still needs carbohydrates in order to function correctly. I try not to go overboard with them (like a few nights ago when we devoured an Italian food feast), and limit my servings to about two a day. I normally eat my carbs in the earlier part of the day rather than the latter, and stick to whole grains, sprouted bread, and quinoa. In the evenings instead of eating a carb heavy meal that will make me feel full and bloated the next morning, I sub the carb ingredient with a veggie (check out my favorite swaps here!).
Fats are another shunned super star in your diet. People hear “fat” and think “it will make me fat”. I see the connection (and there’s some truth in that statement), but just like your body needs carbs, your body also needs fats. Your cells need the fats in order to function properly and to grow, and they also help your body absorb some nutrients and hormones. I stick to the “healthier fats”, like avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and fish. I eat about 2 Tbsp (give or take) a day of healthy fats, and try to space it throughout the day!
The Doubling Trick
So this trick is less about nutrition and more about simply being smart. Lately I have been SO busy on the weekends. Between my photography business, selling LipSense, and you know… living, my meal prepping time has been cut short. I know a lot of you have similar situations, which is why the doubling trick is perfect for on-the-go people! And y’all… it’s as simple as it sounds. All you need to do is double the recipe you made for dinner the night before, and eat the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Mind blown, right? ; )
But for real though… Why had I not thought of this before? I’d love to be able to spend hours on Sunday making super fun and delicious meals to eat throughout the week, but more times than not, that just doesn’t happen. However, when I intentionally plan my dinners and I know they’re lean, clean and green, then they are PERFECT to eat for lunch the next day too! It cuts down on prep time, and means your food won’t go to waste.
This is especially perfect in my household, since it’s only me and Isaac. Lots of recipes are meant for four or more servings, which means I can just make a full recipe and enjoy the leftovers throughout the week.
Check out these recipes for ideas:
Veggie Egg Bites
Spaghetti Squash Taco Casserole
Veggies and Chicken Sausage
Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Taste of Fall Salad
Vegetable Slow Cooker Soup
Ground Turkey and Rice Bowl
Jelly-Filled Oatmeal Muffins
Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Chicken Sausage, Kale and Sweet Potato Skillet Dinner
Well friends, I hope these tips help you the next time you meal prep! Make sure to join me on Sundays for #mealprepSunday, and share your meal prep pictures on Instagram. You know I will!
Berry Breakfast Bars
To continue this month’s theme of healthy breakfast recipes, I decided to whip together some Berry Breakfast Bars that you will L-O-V-E. They are not only perfect for an easy breakfast or morning snack, but they can be made in no time at all AND they are great for meal prepping. The raspberry jelly gave this recipe a yummy tartness, and aren’t they just pretty to look at?
For the Crust:
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/2 cup protein powder
- 1/4 coconut oil, melted
- 1 banana, mashed
- 1/8 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup coconut cream, strained
For the Topping:
- 1/2 cup raspberry jelly
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1 cup oats
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
- Preheat oven to 350. Spray the inside of a 8×11 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- In a food processor, blend together the oats until fine. Add in the protein powder,, coconut oil, banana, maple syrup and coconut cream and pulse until a sticky dough has formed.
- Press the dough into the dish until evenly distributed in the pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix together the jelly, blueberries, raspberries and chia seeds and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- In the food processor, pulse together the oats, maple syrup and coconut oil until it has become a coarse crumble. Mix in the pumpkins seeds.
- Spread the jelly and berry mixture on to the crust, then sprinkle the oat and pumpkin seed crumble on top.
- Bake for another 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top, and the berries are soft.
- Remove from the oven, and let it cool before cutting into bars. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Now it’s your turn to talk! Answer one of these questions in the comments below:
Do you meal prep?
What are your tips and tricks to make meal prepping easier?
*Please note that these tips are based on my personal experience and what I’ve learned throughout the years. I am not a nutritionist, but rather a blogger who hopes to inspire you to eat healthier!*