ABOUT NICOLE COOKE
Nicole Cooke is a Whole30 Certified Coach and mom whose husband travels 85% of the year. At home with her little ones, Nicole knows the value of planning, preparing, and using your precious time wisely when on a Whole30 round. You may have heard the old saying, "Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail," and this is exactly why Coach Nicole is bringing us her 8 best tips for meal prep and planning your Whole30.
8 ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR WHOLE30 MEAL PREP
1. KISS- Keep It Simple, Silly
Meals don't always have to be elaborate or Insta-worthy. Sometimes simple is best. Keeping things easy and basic can take the stress out of preparing the perfect meal or one worthy of the 'gram.
2. Create Your Meal Plan for the Week
Take 5 to 10 minutes to plan in advance. Try cooking one dinner on the weekend with a doubled recipe to have extra. You can use those leftovers for a quick meal in a pinch or portion and store for easy take-anywhere meals. I prepare large batches for my family of 5 twice a week to save on time.
3. Get Your Grocery List Going
Once you have your meal plan for the week, write out what you need on your next grocery run. Make sure to check your fridge, pantry, and freezer for items that you can use that you already have on hand. By knowing what you have and what needs to be used, (check those expiration dates!) you can save at the cash register, reduce food waste, and avoid buying and wasting ingredients that you might not need. Mapping out exactly what you need will also help you say no to those impulse buys. If it's not on the list, chances are you don't need it!
4. Make Time to Cook and Prepare
Set aside a designated number of hours to shop, chop, prep, and portion your meals or ingredients for the week. Have extra hours on Sunday? Dedicate that time to getting in that kitchen and making meal magic happen! Short on time? If you're able to, supplement your meal plan with a few helper meals from your favorite meal delivery company.
5. Make Sure You Lunches Are Set
Pick 2 or 3 different easy and quick meals to eat on for the week and prep them on Sunday (or when schedule permits). Having some go-to lunches when things get hectic can make choosing delicious and Whole30 template-fitting meals a no-brainer. Having options on hand also makes staying on plan easier and more convenient when you may want to reach for something less satisfying or off-plan. For example, keep some staples at-the-ready, like your favorite easy recipes. I prepare my nugget recipe, sweet potato hash, and have compliant chicken apple sausages, carrots and guacamole, or taco salad ready for when I need them.
6. Have Dinner Ingredients at the Ready
Preparing ingredients in advance will cut down on overall dinner prep time and stress. Wash, chop, and portion staple ingredients so you can throw them together for a quick-planned dinner. Know that the kids will need food right after soccer practice on Wednesday? Make sure all you need is an oven or stove to get those little bellies full in no time at all! Also, mapping out when you will cook dinner in real time, or for other days' leftovers, will save on time and take care of hungry appetites with less steps.
7. Keep Breakfast Easy- KISS
KISS your breakfast by preparing delicious and transportable items in advance. Make a big batch of easy egg muffins, pan of frittata, or a hearty hash that are easy to re-heat and can be finished with toppings like compliant salsa and healthy fats like avocado or nuts on the side. Meal 1 doesn't have to be tough but it will set the tone for the rest of the day. Make it count!
8. Know Your Leftover Game
Leftovers not your thing? If you don't like leftovers, make sure to plan for each meal and prioritize time to prepare your meals fresh. Know you will need extra time to cook that protein, chop those veggies, and compose a satiating meal if you want to prepare you meals fresh each time. Be sure to find the best times for you each day to cook.
Would you feel lost without leftovers? Portion, freeze, refrigerate, and safely store leftovers to enjoy when you don't want to cook or are short on time. You can fly out the door, leftovers in hand, and make that appointment on time.
Loved these tips? Want to learn more about Coach Nicole's personal story with Whole30? Read her Q+A here!
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