When I first started eating healthy, I felt like all I ever did was cook and prepare meals.
Cutting, chopping, packing, freezing…wow, it felt like it was endless, and it took up so much time. Some days it was enough for me to say, “Forget this whole healthy eating thing. I’m just going to grab the first quick thing I can get my hands on!”
But then I quickly remembered that it was that exact way thinking that led to my 30 lb. weight gain to begin with. Something definitely needed to change.
So I asked myself a question that often applies to different areas of my life…How can I make this entire process much simpler?
Luckily for me (and now you), I’ve found many solutions that have helped make cooking and meal prep a simple part of my life.
If eating the BD way was complicated, I know that I wouldn’t have stuck with it for this long (it’s been over 15 years now!) – especially since my life is so jam packed today…2 kids, homeschooling, a full time business…it’s a lot to take on each day, so a solid simple strategy is a MUST when it comes to cooking.
If you’re having a hard time keeping up with the demands of daily life and the preparation needed to eat your healthy food, the strategy below is perfect for you.
It’s the same step-by-step process that I use every single week in my own home, and it works beautifully…Step 1 – Know your meals for the week.
Back in the day, I used to get stuck right here (yep, on step 1). I would look at my recipe books and blank journal and think, “Now what?”
Since I don’t want you blankly staring like I was, each of the Beyond Diet programs starts you off with a full meal plan and shopping list. So you don’t need to make any decisions about what meals are best for you, which are easy-to-make, and of course, which ones actually taste good.
Anytime I need to get back to the BD basics, don’t want to think about meal planning for the week, or just want a tried and true plan, I go back to a BD meal plan and just follow along. You’ll find all of your Meal Plans inside “My Library”.
If I am in the mood to put my planning hat on I use the Recipes section on the Beyond Diet site to choose my meals for the week. If I have extra meat, veggies, or fruits already on hand, I choose recipes that utilize these ingredients to cut down on the grocery bill, and make the most of what I already have on hand.
Easy enough, right?
Step 2 – Create your Cook & Freeze List
Your Cook & Freeze List is all of the meals or foods that you can cook ahead of time, freeze, and enjoy later. This is especially useful for batch cooking where you make more than enough portions to keep in the freezer for later.
This can literally cut your time in the kitchen in half!
Chili, meatloaf, burgers, meatballs, soup…can all be made ahead of time (we’ll get to that in just a second) and frozen for a super simple meal (or couple of meals) throughout the week.
Just defrost in the refrigerator during the day, heat before meal time, and enjoy!
Step 3 – Create your Cook & Fridge List
This is similar to the process in step 2, but now you’re looking for items that you can cook ahead and keep in the fridge for 3 days.
Keep in mind, this step is usually done 2 times during the week.
For example, I create my Cook & Fridge List of foods on Sunday and Tuesday. On Sunday I plan what food is needed on Monday and Tuesday. On Tuesday I plan for what’s needed on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Saturday we always do a freezer meal or go out to dinner.
And it’s not just meals that can be prepped ahead of time…
Chopping, weighing, measuring, and making foods portable can all be done early so that you just grab and go during meal times (more about that below).
Step 4 – Create a Washed & Chopped List
Noticing a pattern here?
Your Washed & Chopped List is all of the food that you can keep ready-made to make following a recipe, or enjoying a quick snack a breeze.
Like the Cook & Fridge List, this will also be done 2 times… you guessed it… Sunday and Tuesday. This will keep all of your ingredients fresh and easy!
Step 5 – Shopping
With the lists you’ve made in the previous steps, you’ve now got a built in shopping list ready to go!
BD staples like coconut oil, almond butter, raw nuts, and dried beans are best bought in bulk online at Amazon or VitaCost (2 of my favorites). You get the best deals and save tons of money this way.
And if you’re following a Beyond Diet meal plan, I’ve already done this for you – another reason I go back to meal plans pretty frequently.
Step 6 – Schedule your prep days
As I said above, my prep days are Sunday and Tuesday.
Sunday takes a bit more time since I also prepare my Cook & Freeze List. I make enough to freeze 4-6 servings so the food is usually frozen for a whole month – making things even easier.
Step 7 – Recruit your cooking “buddy.”
Before you start dragging unwilling friends and family members into the kitchen, keep in mind that your “buddy” can be any person or thing you choose. Thing? Yes.
If you’re a fan of podcasts and audio books like I am, spend this time listening to your favorites and maximize this dedicated time in the kitchen.
Let your family know that this will be your sacred time and they need to limit interruptions. If you have small children (like me), this may not be an option… yet. Try “trading” the babysitting responsibilities with a fellow mom and return the favor on her prep days.
My favorite buddy is my fellow Beyond Diet follower… my MOM.
She comes over after church on Sunday ready to tackle our meals for the week. The greatest part about this is that this is our special time together, and she and I both end up with our healthy meals for that week.
It doesn’t get any better than that!
So there you have it!
In just a few steps, you too can take back control of the meals you serve to your family, every single week. No more running through the fast food line, or scrambling to find dinner inspiration with a rumbly tummy.
Take back control of your kitchen, and your life!
We always want to hear from you. Share your ideas in the Share section of Beyond Diet, find (AND BE) an accountability partner to help you through your journey, and connect with the rest of the community.
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