As a graduate dietetic student in the middle of interning, my weeknights can get a little crazy. Trying to balance school, work, and a social life, I’m not always left with a lot of free time. My nutrition is important to me and I want to fuel my body with wholesome ingredients, but it can be an investment to prepare good for you meals. However, I have found a few things I can do on the weekends that make this a little easier during the week. They are: grocery shopping, food prep, and cooking. I know its kind of a given, but it seriously makes my weeks so much easier because I don’t have to spend a bunch of time during the week making food or packing lunches.
Grocery shopping on the weekends means I have a bunch of food ready to be eaten when the week starts. Stocking my fridge for the week ahead also means eating out less because I have lots of good for me food ready at home. Grocery shopping on the weekends also saves me time during the week that I would otherwise have to spend grocery shopping. Plain Greek yogurt, cheese, lots of veggies, a few different kinds of fruit, and hummus are a few things that’re always on my list. When it comes to veggies I like to buy a variety, with half being veggies I can eat raw and the other half I can roast, steam, or sauté.
As far as food prep goes, I cut up my fruits for the week along with the veggies I plan on eating raw. Packaging up snacks like nuts, nut butters, dried fruit, cereal, or hummus also make lunch/snack packing much faster. I also cut up veggies and/or prep chicken or other lean meats for cooking.
Now for the fun part – making the meals. I usually eat my breakfasts on the go so I stick to easy things like Greek yogurt and cereal, overnight oats, or oatmeal. These can all be prepped in advance, thus making my mornings easier. Also, who wants to get up earlier than they have to to prep breakfast? Not me. So, in summary, prep breakfast before breakfast time. It’s also great way to ensure you start your day off right, with some fuel for your brain and your body!! I bring a lunch every day, so having these prepped and ready before the work week starts is another week night time saver. I often make a recipe and then bring it for lunch the whole week. This works for me because I’m cooking for one so recipes tend to last me a while, unless I scale them down. However, I don’t mind having the same thing for lunch every day if I can change things up for dinner. I tend to be a little more creative at night because I have more time, and like I said I like to change it up. For dinner though, I still prefer to have veggies and protein (ex: chicken) already cooked so I can add them to a salad, make them into a burrito bowl, toss them into spaghetti sauce to pour over pasta, or eat them plain. Having a few items precooked for dinner means I can save some time during the week, while still exciting my taste buds by switching up the way I cook or serve the food I’ve prepared ahead of time.
In summary, grocery shopping, prepping produce and snacks, and preparing meals on the weekends helps me boost my nutrition, eat out less (hello saving $$$), and have a little more free time during the week. Plus, if you’re cooking at home you know exactly what is going in your food and you have control over how your food is prepared. I’m also more likely to eat fruits and vegetables if they are prepped and ready to be consumed. For me, spending less time at night cooking dinner and packing lunches is also another win because I swear that takes away an additional hour from my night. Lastly, what works for me, may not work for you, but I encourage you to find ways to invest in your health and better fuel your body for the week ahead!!