You don't have to be mad at meal prep

Whenever we hear the words, “diet,” “meal plan,” or “meal prep,” many of us roll our eyes as our minds are flooded with thoughts of performing the daunting tasks of creating a grocery list, going shopping, then preparing and cooking a bunch of meal for the week. In fact, many people spend several hours each Sunday preparing their meals for the week. Which can be a great time saver and definitely will help you to stay on course with your nutritional intake plan, yet can be time-consuming and challenging to build the habit of each week. Everyone, including myself, is always looking for ways to reduce time and cut out the inefficiencies of life, especially in regard to nutrition. So, here’s a quick way you can jump-start your meal prepping life without dedicating half of your Sunday to do so.

First things first, there is a small investment, but trust that this will be some of the best money you’ve ever invested. And when I say small, I mean around $50 to pick up an Instant Pot pressure cooker. This is a magical little device that will pack your meals with flavor and save tons of time cooking and cleaning up. Now, once you’ve got your instant pot cooker, the next step is to obtain your protein of choice to cook up. One of my favorites because of the wide availability and ease of use, is the organic free-range chicken thighs from Costco. You can get them in the meats cooler section and usually run around $25-30 for several pounds of meat. Let’s run with the chicken as an example. Get your instant pot plugged in and fired up. We will start by browning the chicken thighs in the bottom of the pot. You can put some olive oil in the bottom, season up your meat, then place it in a flat layer on the bottom of the instant pot to allow it to brown for several minutes on each side. Next, add any additional seasoning and water to the meat per the instant pot instructions of the recipe you’re using, put the lid on, secure it, and set the timer on the front display. 

Now you can read a book, meditate, do some work or just relax for 20 minutes while the instant pot is cooking your chicken thighs to absolute tender juicy perfection. When the timer runs out and the pot beeps, go ahead and release the steam valve and let it sit for a few minutes. Then twist open the top and smell the juicy goodness within, grab a plate and make yourself a meal.

Of course, many of you may be thinking, ok that sounds great but you’ve only got chicken on your plate. Where are the sides and the rest of the meal? Well surprise, I follow a carnivore keto hybrid diet and because of this most of my meals consist mainly of proteins and fat. So for this chicken dish, I would usually grab an avocado and possibly some raw sauerkraut to boost gut health, and other than that, that’s it. 

As you can see, getting started with a healthy nutrition plan is not nearly as challenging or time-consuming as one might think. And there are literally hundreds if not thousands of recipes for making all kinds of delicious and healthy meals using the instant pot. And when you’re all done, clean up is fast and easy because you really just have one thing to clean, the cooking pot within the instant pot. And it’s dishwasher safe so that makes the clean up even quicker. This is so much better than cleaning pots and pans and dishes and utensils till the cows come home. 

Once your meal is complete and you’re ready to put away the leftovers, one great way to be ready for future meals is to prepare the leftovers into meal-sized portions and store them in glass leakproof containers (they usually come with a snap-on lid). I always make sure to get the totally leakproof containers with the snap-on lids to make sure nothing leaks out. Nothing will put a damper in your day like reaching into your backpack to pull out your laptop and getting a handful of chili instead. I prefer the glass containers because I believe they are safer to store food in and eat out of in the long run, however, if all you have is plastic, it will work for now. Prepare your meal-size portions in individual containers and now you’ve got some meals to go. 

I usually repeat this process a couple of times during the week and mix and match my leftovers. For instance, I may cook chicken thighs on Monday night and have that for dinner with two leftover meals packed up. Then Tuesday for lunch I’ll have one of the leftover chicken meals. And that night I’ll cook up a big pot of chili to have for dinner and make three or four leftover meals. By the time Wednesday rolls around I have my choice of leftover chicken thighs or scrumptious chili from the night before. In this way, we can make our meals for the week as we go instead of spending half of our Sunday cooking for the week.

Another hot tip for you, the glass storage containers are usually oven-safe to 350 degrees so you can reheat your leftovers in the oven or in the toaster oven and not have to expose your delicious nutrition to the harmful waves of a microwave. Call me a kook, but I haven’t used a microwave in years and avoid them at all costs. Often times when I’m on the go I’m faced with the dilemma of the microwave or eat it cold, and I always just eat my meal cold instead of microwaving it. I went and did all the work to find healthy, high-quality ingredients and prepare the meal, the last thing I want to do is have all that work go to nothing by destroying my food reheating it in the microwave. A cold, healthy meal tastes better to me than a hot microwaved meal any day. 

What are your go-to hacks for meal prep? Leave a comment and let me know.

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