Thanks to meal prep, what I eat in a week is crazy consistent, delicious and healthy. At least, it’s much more so than how I used to eat.
Before meal prep, my weekly diet went something like this on repeat: bagels, pizza, expensive salad from Le Pain Quotidien, Cheerios, Clif bars, beer or peanut butter and crackers for dinner, microwave eggs for breakfast.
Sometimes I’d pack a mushy PB&J for a work lunch like I was in grade school or something. Now THAT’S a sad desk lunch.
As you can imagine, my pre-prep diet caused a whole mess of problems for me.
I felt lethargic at work. I gained about 10-15 pounds in my first year out of college. My clothes didn’t fit well. I was trapped in the Restrictive Eating Cycle of doom. And most importantly, I wasn’t happy.
Everything changed when I started cooking more, though.
Even though I was a terrible cook at first, I was able to bring stir frys and salads to work. I felt like I was finally getting on “track” with healthy eating, and to keep it going I simply got better at cooking!
These days, my diet is almost opposite of the way I ate after graduating and working my first job.
I don’t label my diet, but if I had to, it would be “flexitarian.”
After years of meal prepping, I’ve developed a diet that my body loves.
I eat mostly vegan with the occasional eggs, fish, chicken, shrimp and beef. For some reason, I don’t like eating turkey and I never eat pork since I grew up in a kosher house.
I’ve managed to cut out dairy from my diet from the most part and my body feels much better without consuming it every day. But I still eat cheese and ice cream on occasion! When I make smoothies, overnight oats and coffee, I add almond milk instead of regular milk.
My diet has a lot less bread than it used to. I manage to keep my meal prep meals gluten-free, relying on plant-based carbs like sweet potatoes and grains like quinoa.
All of these “restrictions” were NOT intentional. I just kept following my gut, literally and figuratively, as I developed my ideal diet.
I’m not here to tell you what to eat.
My ideal diet probably isn’t ideal for most people and I encourage you to keep experimenting until you figure out what your body likes best!
This post is just meant to inspire you and show you what a week of eating when you meal prep most of your meals actually looks like!
I cook 70-80% of my meals, follow the 80/20 approach to a T and still indulge or buy takeout from time to time.
If you aren’t familiar, the 80/20 approach means that 80% of your meals during the week are made with whole, healthy ingredients and 20% are whatever you want (but that doesn’t mean 20% of the time you get to cheat).
Most dinners or lunches I enjoy out on the town are with friends, instead of sulking back to the office with a Chipotle burrito bowl to eat in solitude at my desk.
As a result, eating this way has helped me:
- lose weight
- AND keep the weight off (two years and counting!)
- save money, thanks to grocery shopping and not having to buy new clothes all the time
- be much, much happier inside and out
It’s important to note that I thoroughly meal plan to make sure I’m eating a good balance of protein, veggies and carbs. It helps me stay on track and not think about what I have to eat in the moment because I’ve done literally everything in advance!
Click the link below to immediately download my free (and updated) meal planning cheat sheet!
Monday is the best day of the week because I get to dig into my freshly prepped meals!
Breakfast: Overnight oats with berries and almond milk (recipe here)
Lunch: Baked salmon with asparagus and black bean noodles
Dinner: Buddha bowl with sweet potatoes and chickpeas
Snacks: 1 green apple, Go Macro bar, 1/2 a red pepper
I’m the type of person that doesn’t mind eating the same exact thing a few days in a row, but I do like to swap lunches and dinners and plan them so they’re interchangeable based on my mood.
Breakfast: Overnight oats with fruit
Lunch: Buddha bowl with chickpeas and sweet potato
Dinner: Salmon with asparagus and black bean noodles
Snacks: carrots, 1 green apple, fig bliss balls (click here for recipe by From My Bowl)
By Wednesday, I’m ready for a new rotation of meals. That’s why I always do a mini mid-week meal prep Wednesday evening. It gives me a chance to relax for a few hours (yes, cooking is relaxing) and have access to fresh food for the rest of the week. Truth: we are more likely to deviate from our healthy diets at the end of the week and that’s why it’s important to cook once in the middle of the week!
Breakfast: Overnight oats with berries
Lunch: Buddha bowl with sweet potatoes and chickpeas (recipe here)
Dinner: Mid-week meal prep leftovers!
Yup. I usually prep a little extra food to eat for dinner after my mid-week meal prep. Normally it involves veggies, a carb and a fried egg on top!
Snacks: hummus + carrots, 1/2 avocado with crackers
When it comes to snacks, I pick what’s easiest to pack and go. I’m definitely not into snacks I have to cook, which is why I go for whole foods like nuts, croudite and fruit.
And when I get tired of overnight oats, I like to switch to smoothies!
Breakfast: Smoothie with berries, 1/2 a banana, spinach, 1 scoop of protein powder and almond milk
Lunch: Burrito bowl with black beans, quinoa and veggies (recipe here)
Dinner: Fajita bowl with black beans, quinoa and red pepper with an egg on top. Putting an egg on meal prepped food kind of makes it feel totally new!
Snacks: 1 green apple, a handful of almonds, 1/2 a grapefruit
Friday is where I start to “let go” a bit and embrace the 20% in my 80/20 approach. I always leave Friday night dinner open to catch up with friends or whip up something from scratch.
Breakfast: Smoothie with berries, 1/2 a banana, spiniach, 1 scoop of protein and almond milk
Lunch: Burrito bowl with black beans, quinoa and veggies
Dinner: Shake Shack date! This meal usually falls in the “20” of the 80/20 approach.
Snacks: 1 peach, RX bar
Before I started meal prepping, Saturdays and Sundays were a free-for-all. But now that I do a mini-prep on Wednesday nights, I usually eat my last meal from that prep on Saturday for dinner, before going out with friends (or staying in to work more, unfortunately). I normally buy lunch on Saturdays and try to make sure it’s packed with veggies!
Breakfast: Smoothie with cold brew coffee, a banana, 1 scoop of protein powder, cocoa powder and almond milk. This is what I drink to get coffee AND breakfast in at the same time. I do this to avoid buying coffee on weekends (I get it for free during the week at work).
Lunch: A sandwich or veggie-based takeout meal, like the massive veggie sandwich below.
Dinner: Burrito bowl with black beans, quinoa and veggies
Snacks: 1/2 grapefruit, peanut butter and crackers
Ah, prep day. My favorite day of the week. I like to sit down on Sunday morning for an hour and make a solid meal plan and grocery list before hitting the store and getting into prep mid-afternoon.
Breakfast: Fresh, hot bowl of oatmeal with berries and peanut butter (something cozy!)
Lunch: Scrambled eggs with toast (breakfast for lunch, anyone?)
Dinner: No dinner! On meal prep Sunday, I usually eat while I cook (because I’m always tasting everything) and end up not being hungry for dinner. But I usually get dessert.
Snacks: A treat like vegan ice cream from Pressed or a Perfect Bar from Whole Foods.
I know what you’re thinking, what about dessert?
Well, here’s the truth. I’m no longer a sweets person. I used to HAVE to have ice cream, M&Ms or a banana with peanut butter every night, but I’ve been able to avoid eating after dinner, for the most part, thanks to meal prep.
By eating very balanced, satisfying meals during the day, I simply don’t have sugar cravings.
But when I do eat after dinner, I stick to energy bites (like the fig balls), home made baked goods that I keep in the freezer and non-dairy yogurt with fruit, like this: