Planning ahead to eat healthy during the workweek is a simple way to build a healthy diet into your routine while also allowing for a little ad lib fun on the weekends.
But even for those of us who aim to eat well during the week, it’s easy to get derailed when there’s nothing quick/exciting in the fridge, or when we’re running late and have to cobble together a lunch of pre-packaged granola bars.
Eating healthy throughout the week is totally possible with a little planning and preparation. Once you know what you’re aiming for, you can shop smart and spend a couple hours each week stocking your fridge with foods you can easily grab and take to lunch each day. And, if you’re short on time in the evenings, these same foods can double as dinner ingredients.
Here are a few things you can do on a “prep day” to feed yourself for the entire week:
Prep salad ingredients
- Greens: butter lettuce, romaine, spring or baby greens, kale, arugula, spinach, microgreens
- Veggies: cherry tomatoes, radishes, carrots, peas, broccoli, red onion, roasted sweet potatoes or beets, cucumber, mushrooms, grilled sweet corn, avocado
- Dressings: carrot ginger dressing, coconut milk ranch, the best damn sesame sauce you ever damn had, or any of these homemade dressings
- Other toppings: cashews/walnuts/almonds/pecans, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, dried cranberries, homemade croutons, hardboiled egg, grilled fish/steak/chicken, baked tempeh, blue cheese, burrata, sunrise tofu
Prep macro bowl ingredients
In addition to being fun salad add-ons, roasted veggies make hearty ingredients for a macro bowl: a balanced and nourishing bowl of veggies, whole grains and plant-based proteins. On your prep day, wash, chop and roast big batches of veggies (with just a little olive or coconut oil, salt, and pepper), and add them to your salads and macro bowls throughout the week.
Try: sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, beets, squash, pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers, onions
Make several portions of grains/beans
Cook up a few portions each of quinoa, brown or wild rice, beans, and lentils to construct macro bowls throughout the week. (Half of your bowl should be veggies, so just think of the grains and protein as a supplement, and plan amounts accordingly.) Store these pre-cooked servings in the fridge to be called upon as needed, and no more waiting 45 minutes each night for your whole grains to cook!
Make a sauce for your macro bowl
Make a quick sauce to flavor your macro ingredients. (Or, use any of the salad dressings above, or use any of these for salads too.) They’re all made with whole foods and beneficial fats!
Lemon Tahini dressing //Food52
Green Goddess sauce //The Kitchn
Yogurt dill dressing //My New Roots
For super simple goodness, just drizzle extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Prep smoothie ingredients
Smoothies are an easy and healthy way to pack an on-the-go breakfast or treat yourself to an afternoon snack loaded with veggies and plant proteins. Check out these Healthy Breakfast Smoothies, or experiment with your own combinations. (Just be sure to focus on the veggies, only a little fruit, and top it off with protein!)
Buy frozen fruit (or freeze fresh fruit yourself if you’re so inclined), and keep the fridge and pantry stocked with washed spinach and kale, hemp seeds, chia seeds, hemp protein powder, coconut milk, almond milk, and maybe some orange juice. Cook and freeze beets to have on hand for yummy beet smoothies (pro tip: cook a few bunches of beets at once and it will last you a few weeks).
This Klean Kanteen is leak-proof way to carry your smoothie in your bag (and it’s insulated!).
And, blender clean-up is a breeze with this fancy trick: Immediately after pouring your smoothie, fill the blender halfway with hot water, a squirt of dish soap and a dash or two of salt. Blend for 5-10 seconds and rinse!
Make power balls
For a quick snack that gives you energy and endurance and doesn’t require refrigeration, make a batch of power balls. Keep a stash at home for snacking needs and take a bunch to work for a quick pick-me-up (and alternative to the vending machine!).
No-bake energy bites //Gimme Some Oven
Coconut lime energy bites //Paleo Grubs
Peanut butter brownie balls //Fit Foodie Finds