Anyone else feel like they are studying for finals when they sit down to meal prep for the week?… Let me set the stage for you. My kitchen table is covered in papers with recipes, notes and shopping lists. I have my nutrition books open to ensure my macros are correct and my Always Hungry? book (AH) by Dr. David Ludwig, which happens to be my latest nutrition obsession. The food bloggers I follow have meal prepping down to a science and the AH book has an entire page of materials that need to be prepped for the next weeks meals and I am about ready to pull my hair out.

Number 1: You don’t need ALL of it- Leftovers are a blessing.

These all inclusive meal plans that have you cooking 5 or 6 recipes on a Sunday night are absolutely not necessary, especially if you are the only one who will be eating them. You don’t need to make roasted chicken for dinner on Monday and a steak for lunch on Tuesday with organic tofu hash as a snack. I recommend picking one or two recipes that you are excited about and starting there. Make some extras and use your leftovers to make different meals. For example, this Sunday I am making roasted herb chicken (click here for the recipe). I am going to set aside some of that chicken to make chicken salad for my lunch on Monday and any other leftovers I will use for my soup that I am making on Wednesday. Once you really get into this meal prepping business in addition to doing an exorbitant amount of dishes, you will also likely have leftovers that can be frozen and saved for future weeks.

Number 2: It only has to be as complicated as you want it to be.

We are not all gourmet chefs, no matter how simplified a recipe is I will never make pan seared fish with a white wine reduction sauce. What the f*ck even is a reduction sauce?.. Look at the recipes that interest you and find a way to break them down into something manageable. At the core of the recipe its about the nutrients that make up the food, having a balance of the vital nutritional pieces put together in a mix that tastes at least somewhat delightful. Go based on what makes you happy and not what someone else tells you to do.

Number 3: Don’t forget the Snacks!

When changing your diet it is very common to hit a wall of “OMG I am so hungry I am going to eat an entire cake”. These are the moments when you have a tendency to fall off the wagon. I am a grab and go kind of person, if it’s not ready to go I will stare at the fridge until I am SO hungry that I somehow end up with a McChicken in my mouth. When you begin something new it is a good idea to have a variety of compliant snacks prepped- even if that means counting out almonds and putting them in a baggie. If that is too much for you, you can spend a little extra and get the almonds in a single serve pack, or hummus already in a cup to grab with a bag on mini carrots. Something else to keep in mind is that your snack should be something you enjoy eating. If you have a hard time eating celery and choose that as your snack, there is a very high chance that you will skip the celery and reach for the bag of chips in the pantry.