Let's face it, life is busy, and cooking can become a chore you dread doing at the end of every day. Meal prepping for a busy schedule can relieve the stress of cooking and making healthy food choices after bariatric surgery.
We recommend patients follow specific guidelines to optimize their weight loss after their bariatric procedure. Without the appropriate planning, healthy food choices can become more difficult, especially when you feel stressed or pressed for time.
In this blog, we will review some tips for meal prepping for a busy schedule.
10 Tips for Meal Prepping for a Busy Schedule
1. Plan your Menu
The first step to meal prepping is to prepare your menu for the week. This will work as a guide when you go to the grocery store, ensuring you only buy enough for the meals you need that week. Also, when you plan out your menu for the week, you can consider the macronutrient breakdowns recommended after bariatric surgery.
2. Decide on Portions
Once you plan your menu for the week, you will want to decide on how many portions you need to prepare. Are you going to meal prep breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks? Are you meal prepping for just you or the whole family? This will determine how much you need to buy when you head to the grocery store.
3. Mix and Match Recipes
Another tip for meal prepping for a busy schedule is to find ways to mix and match your recipes. Maybe you batch cook some chicken and veggies, but add a different base (cauliflower rice or lettuce) and dressing when you assemble it. This will keep you from getting bored with the same meal every day. Finding ways to repurpose your meals will also save time in the meal prep process because you are cooking fewer recipes.
4. Batch Cook Meals
When meal prepping for a busy schedule, the best way to save time is to batch cook many of your recipes. Try splitting your sheet pan with roasted veggies on one side and roasted potatoes on the other. This will make the cooking and cleanup process faster.
5. Find your Pantry Staples
Stocking up on your pantry staples will make the meal prep process easier when you begin planning and cooking. These pantry staples can also be added to your meals throughout the week as a side dish or to change things up. Some great pantry staples on hand are canned beans, canned fish (tuna), vegetable/chicken broth, frozen veggies, frozen berries, whole grains, and olive oil and seasoning.
6. Undercook your Recipes
Nobody likes mushy vegetables or overcooked chicken. Since you know you will be reheating your meal, we recommend slightly undercooking the food so it will be the perfect taste and texture when it is reheated. Please be sure to check the temperature of your meats before consuming them to ensure they are fully cooked.
7. Buy Pre-made Entrees
Even meal prepping can be a chore for someone with a busy schedule. So don’t be ashamed if you have to buy pre-made entrees. We recommend you avoid the pre-made entrees as most do not have a good protein-to-carb ratio. And be sure to check the nutrition label because many pre-packaged foods can contain lots of added preservatives, sugars, and salt. A few great options for pre-made entrees can be found in the frozen food section, such as frozen veggies and frozen meats.
8. Don’t forget about snacks
Snacks are often overlooked in the meal planning process. We concentrate on the three main meals of the day and leave the snacks open, leaving us vulnerable to making unhealthy food choices. Healthy snack ideas that you can meal prep include hard-boiled eggs, carrots and hummus, sliced celery and peanut butter, meat and cheese roll-ups, low-carb yogurt, and cottage cheese.
9. Invest in the right tools
When your kitchen is stocked with the right tools, meal prepping for a busy schedule becomes more straightforward. We recommend purchasing some meal prep containers. Investing in a Ninja Foodi or pressure cooker is also a great way to speed up the meal prep process.
10. Freeze leftovers
If you find that you have cooked too much that week, try freezing your leftovers. Most foods will last about five days in the fridge but several months in the freezer.