Planning meals out in advance allows you to make sure you are getting variety but also not wasting food. You don't want to get to Friday and realize you have eaten chicken every single day and now you have to toss out that steak or fish. There's a hundred ways to meal plan and prep and you have to find what works for you. But, here's what works for me.
First, some background. I work 2 jobs, many days I leave my house by 7am and get home around 9pm. My lunchbox is bulging (the zipper is broken. Now accepting lunchbox donations). I have also been a student with limited access to a fridge or microwave. You get creative. I also only cook for myself, not a whole family. I eat a lot of leftovers which is why I switch things up each week.
Sunday is my day off. This is meal prep day!
Step 1: PLAN! Go buy the food. Create a grocery list. Stick to the store perimeter. Read labels. Do not go hungry. I like to create variety from week to week. For example, one week I might have chicken and salmon for my protein, broccoli and eggplant for my veggies, peaches and plums for my fruit but the following week mix it up; tilapia and pork, asparagus and squash, apples and bananas, etc.
You don't want an overwhelming number of choices. You also don't want to spend ALL day in the kitchen. So, plan it out! These days I wake up at 4am so thinking of "what to eat" is the last thing I want to do.
Now step 2: PREP! Get your Tupperware and cooking gadgets ready! While yes, most food tastes better fresh, it's not always realistic to cook every meal fresh. Otherwise, I want your life. Here is a list of things I often prep in advance:
-quinoa: complete protein and high in healthy carbs. Great mixed into salads, or with veggies and meat for a quick meal.
-steel cut oats: I cook them with water, portion them into mason jars, and then use Slap Nutrition Protein (weslap.com--> LTIPFIT gets you 10% off) to change up flavors. Think cinnamon swirl slap with fresh berries, or chocolate slap and whipped peanut butter.
-chicken: cook it up! Weigh it, bag it, throw it on salads or with veggies.
-veggies: I steam up broccoli or bake up asparagus to make sure I have veggies through the week.
-salad: I put my toppings in a mason jar so the lettuce doesn't get soggy, dressing goes in a small container also. Then just throw it in and shake it up at meal time!
-hard boiled eggs: easy snack!
I also have staple foods I eat each week; bagels, turkey, eggs, things like that. Pb&j is a staple in my life when I'm starving or haven't grocery shopped. Not to mention protein bars are never too far away! Don't buy junk, and you won't eat it! Prepare in advance and you won't fail!