Staging your kitchen for success is essential when it comes to eating clean — this means eating foods in their natural and unprocessed state.
One of the most common obstacles preventing us from achieving our goals is a lack of proper planning and preparation for clean eating. Proper kitchen prep will be a huge asset in achieving the goal of living a healthier life.
1. Plan your week.
Plan your meals for the week ahead. Don’t do this mindlessly. Rather, take a moment. What are you craving? I recommend having your calendar nearby when planning out your menu for the week. Always take your schedule into consideration. Do you have late meetings or appointments this week? Then select a dinner you can heat up in a Crock-Pot, or plan to double a recipe from the previous evening to allow for easy leftovers.
Don’t try to plan in a vacuum. Odds are good that just because you've made this very positive choice to detox, your life won't slow down to help you along the way. In order to really succeed you must allow your busy life to continue. Make the choice to really take the time to plan and prepare. This step sets you on the right path toward achieving your goals.
2. Create a list.
After you've chosen your meals for the week, taking into consideration your schedule and food preferences, review the needed ingredients and create your shopping list. When you go to the store, only shop from your list. As the weeks go by, this step will help you to discover and track the foods that are easiest for you to prepare and also keep you feeling satisfied, nourished and fueled for every day. You'll also find that only shopping from your list decreases your grocery bill and also decreases food waste. Now you know you'll use the chicken or the spinach that you purchased by week’s end, because it's on your weekly menu — no more tossing out that healthy food you bought with good intentions but never got around to eating. Select your menu. Create a shopping list. You have a plan!
3. Chop vegetables, make dips and dressings for the week.
Prepare these so they're in your fridge and ready for you when you're hungry. Prepare, then store in the refrigerator in BPA-free containers or glass Mason jars. This small accomplishment will put you farther along the path of preparation. You'll feel the calm and control begin to set in!
4. Peel, chop and prep.
Take an hour to peel, chop and organize your produce for the week. Pick one day of the week to be your food prep day. Sunday is a popular choice, but if that's your crazy day then pick a time that works for YOU. I know it can seem like a big task, but it's worth the effort. Once you get into the routine, this step really will feel like less of a chore and more of a gift to yourself as the week unfolds. Make it fun; try to employ the entire family and make a date of it. Or, use this as your quiet me time on a specific weeknight if that works better for you. Remember, your "menu week" doesn't necessarily have to start on a Monday. If Tuesday is a quieter day, then make that day one of your menu schedule — it’s what works for you. This step will save you HOURS during the week, not to mention unnecessary stress. Once it’s finished, you're set for the week.
Take the time to precook your proteins for the week, then store in the refrigerator or freezer. Grill, broil or bake your protein, slice it up, then store in the correct portion amount for easy access. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, make sure you always have plant-based proteins available. Make your decision to eat healthy as fast, easy and fun as you can!
6. Cook once, eat twice (or more!).
Go big or go home, baby. Make double, triple or even quadruple portions of your dishes for easy leftovers and freezer storage. No one ever said that every dinner for seven days has to be different. I like repeats! If you find one meal that really works for you and keeps you satiated, happy and really looking forwarding to sitting down at the table again, allow yourself to enjoy it! If your day looks beyond busy, then plan for a second helping of yesterday’s lunch for tonight’s dinner. Just pop that portion out of the freezer and warm it in a Crock-Pot. This will also help when an unplanned event pops up in your week. If a day becomes one of those days, and you can’t complete the specific meal you had planned, at least you know you have an equally healthy and delicious backup in the freezer!