Singaporebrides | Weddings 101
Prep Once and Eat Clean All Week: A Busy Bride’s Guide to Meal Planning
Don’t let meal planning intimidate you—it’s easier than you think! By dedicating just a couple hours of your Sunday to preparing food, you can eat clean all week long.
The struggle to balance healthy eating with a busy life is something that almost all women experience. All too often, we turn to convenience foods and take-away when we’re too tired to cook. The good news is that eating well doesn’t have to be time consuming, if you’re willing to plan ahead a bit. Choose a few items from this list to make on Sunday, and you can eat clean all week long!
Eat Clean Breakfasts
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet one that is easy to neglect on hectic mornings. Here are some breakfast ideas that you can prep on Sunday to make your mornings more nutritious.
Smoothie packs are simple to make, and a great way to ensure that you get a couple servings of fruits and veggies first thing in the morning. Simply chop up your favourite fruit (banana, mango, papaya, and pineapple are all delicious options) and add about ½ cup to a resealable plastic bag. Top it off with a few handfuls of raw spinach or kale, squeeze out the excess air, seal the bag, and pop it into the freezer. Make a few of these at once, so you have a ready-to-go smoothie mix every morning.
When you’re ready to make your smoothie, simply empty the contents of the bag into your blender, add in your favourite milk and yoghurt, and blend until smooth. The frozen fruit will make your smoothie extra thick and creamy.Image by Denna Jones licensed under CC BY 2.0
Overnight oats are a cold version of oatmeal. Instead of cooking the oats, you mix them together with milk, yoghurt, nut butter, and other add-ins, and refrigerate them overnight. The oats absorb the liquid, creating a creamy, cold version of oatmeal that couldn’t be easier to make. Overnight oats will last several days in the refrigerator, too, so you can make a big batch on Sunday and eat up all week long.
In a glass jar or resealable container, stir together ½ cup oats (both old-fashioned and quick oats work), ¼ cup unsweetened almond or soy milk, and ¼ cup plain yoghurt. Optional but tasty add-ins include peanut butter, mashed banana, cocoa powder, jam, slivered almonds, shredded unsweetened coconut, and chia or flaxseeds. If you decide to add chia seeds, though, be sure add in a little extra milk.
Eat Clean Lunches
A nutritious, healthful lunch can mean the difference between feeling energised throughout your afternoon and wanting to take a nap at your desk. These make-ahead lunches are guaranteed to power you through your day.
Chicken salad is a protein-packed lunch that can be eaten on toast, in a wrap, or on a bed of greens. This versatility guarantees that you can eat it all week long without getting tired of it.
For a basic chicken salad, place two boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a large pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil, and once boiling, remove from heat. Keep pot covered for 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink inside. Shred chicken in large bowl, and combine with ¼ cup plain Greek yoghurt, 1 tablespoon light mayonnaise, and salt and pepper to taste.
You can jazz up this basic recipe by adding in some chopped celery, dried cranberries, or sliced grapes. This Light Italian Chicken Salad with Roasted Garlic and this Lemon Almond Roast Chicken Salad are also delicious, lightened-up versions of this classic dish.Image by Vegan Photo licensed under CC BY 2.0
Mason jar salads
Mason jar salads are the perfect make-ahead meal because you can make them several days ahead of time without worrying about your ingredients getting soggy. The key lies in layering each item properly.
- First, add the dressing to the bottom of your jar. It can be a simple mixture of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or something fancier, like this Creamy Curry Dressing.
- Next, top the dressing with hearty vegetables that will hold up well against the dressing. This can include any combination of whole cherry tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli, carrots, celery, cauliflower, and capsicum.
- Then add fruit and any less hearty vegetables. These ingredients might include berries, chopped apple, courgette, or mushrooms.
- Now, add in grains and protein. Quinoa, couscous, grilled chicken, roasted chickpeas, and sliced hardboiled eggs are all good choices. You can also sprinkle in a little cheese, if you’d like.
- Next, add nuts or seeds to your jar, like slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, or sunflower seeds.
- Last, top off your jar with leafy greens, like spinach, kale, or Romaine lettuce.
You can store these salads in your refrigerator throughout the week. When ready to eat, simply shake the jar to evenly coat your salad in dressing, and enjoy!
Eat Clean Dinners
The last thing you want to do after a long day at work is to cook dinner when you get home. These dishes not only be can made a week ahead of time, but also can be frozen for up to two months. When ready to eat, simply remove the meal from the freezer the night before, and reheat according to directions.
Here are a couple of our favourite make-ahead dinners:
- Smoky White Bean Chicken Chili
- Hearty Vegetable Soup with Roasted Tomatoes
- Slow Cooked Stuffed Peppers
- Sweet Potato Chickpea Burgers
- Black Bean Quinoa Veggie Burgers
Eat Clean Snacks
Don’t overlook snacks when meal-planning—those times in between meals are when it’s most difficult to stay on track. Here are some ideas for healthy snacks that you can munch on throughout the week.
Chop up carrots, celery, capsicum, and other crunchy veggies to enjoy with hummus or on their own throughout the week. If they’re already prepped, it’s a much easier choice to make. Have leftovers at the end of the week? Simply roast them up with a bit of salt, pepper, and olive oil, and have them as a side dish with dinner.Image by realfoodforager licensed under CC BY 2.0
Whip up a batch of wholesome muffins, like these Banana Oat Greek Yoghurt Muffins, to have as a sweet mid-morning snack or post-dinner treat.
Chickpeas are not only a great addition to salad, but also a protein-packed snack. To make a batch for the week ahead, preheat oven to 200°C, and toss chickpeas with salt, pepper and your favourite healthy oil and seasonings. Roast for about 20 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
The easiest way to meal plan to get organised. Make a list of everything you want to cook, check that you have all of the necessary ingredients, and set aside about two hours to get everything done. It may seem like a lot of work at first, but as the week goes on, you’ll be happy that you planned ahead!
Credits: Feature image by Alba García Aguado licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
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