Four hours of preplanned food preparation per week can change your life. Okay, so this sounds a little too good or may not even make sense, right? Maybe, but doing a few hours a week to plan, cook and prepare a healthy set of meals can and will be healthier for you than eating poor nutrition choices on the fly.
Busy lives, easy to grab processed foods or processed frozen health foods are neither that great or good for your health. The foods you consume need to be fresh with a high percentage of the food you consume being raw. Whole, fresh raw healthy foods have the highest concentration of nutrients, enzymes, and full fiber.
Here’s where all the new, sealable, fancy, plastic containers become your next best friend. People have been using reusable, sealable, plastic containers for a very long time to store leftovers. Often leftovers don’t make it back into the mix and get tossed out anyway. By planning your weekly nutrition program ahead of time, life can become simplified and eating healthy becomes a no-brainer.
Keep in mind for single people all the way up to large families, preplanned, fresh food preparation is very scalable. All you need is either more containers or bigger containers. Prepare your food position to nourish and satisfy, but not to over-consume. With preplanning, you can control calorie and macronutrient balance. Just a reminder that your macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. I would lean away from too many carbs and lean more toward high proteins and good fats.
The options are endless with recipes and blends of whole, fresh, cooked and raw foods that can be pulled together to make preplanned, healthy container meals.
Here is a series of food choices that you can use as a template to mix and match creating amazing ultra-healthy meals for an active, healthy lifestyle.
Start with these vegetables. This group is a great foundation and adds different choices and you improve your pre-prepped meals.
Arugula, asparagus, avocado, beets, bell peppers, baby spinach, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cucumbers, green beans, jicama, kale, mushrooms, olives, peppers, peas, radish, Swiss chard, tomatoes
This next group falls into your daily starches. Keep in mind that overdoing these options can overload your carbohydrate intake
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, black rice, wild rice, yams
Perhaps you lean toward being a fruitarian or lean toward sweeter foods? Fruits make a simple go-to choice, especially berries, which are low on the glycemic index. A container of mixed fruits can carry you through a busy day and may be one of the easiest preplanned and prepared choices you can do.
Bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, dates, figs, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries
Go nuts or at least add nuts and seeds to your salads, fruit bowls, and even cooked dishes. Fresh, whole nuts and seeds can add protein, fiber and a great source of healthy fats to your diet. They are filling and stay with you to keep your hunger in check.
Almonds, cacao (technically a bean), macadamia, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts
For your meat protein group and assuming you are not vegan or vegetarian, these choices are pretty standard.
Lean beef or buffalo, chicken, pork, salmon, turkey, tuna
Another great source of protein and nutrients would be hard-boiled or scrambled eggs. Eggs in moderation and mixed with vegetable or grain free quiche recipes are perfect for a quick, healthy option if meats are not your thing.
Now, this aspect goes without saying, but seasoning your meals with fresh herbs and spices is essential to hold good flavor with premade stored meals. Try to use fresh basil, cilantro, peppers, parsley, and rosemary to make for delicious meal prep.
The bottom line to a healthy life and lifestyle is to eat whole, fresh foods every day. Eating fresh, nutritious meals every day can be difficult and there are way too many high-calorie fast food choices to reach for, so make homemade meal prep and planning a centerpiece to your healthy lifestyle change.
Judd Jones is a director for The Hagadone Corporation and Certified Health Coach.