My first thought after meal prepping for the first time was, "Yeah, not doing that again."
Let me back up.... I started dieting at 13. I didn't know what I was doing other than I really wanted to lose weight and thought eating less would help. I tried a diet, it didn't last, and then I tried a different one, and a different one, and a different one. This lasted well into my late 20's leaving me with a really confusing relationship with food. One day, I received a book as a gift that was about the healing effects of food. As I was in a state of deprivation from a new diet, I inhaled the book, desperately looking for a way out. This happened to be it. Real food. The book discussed how important and nourishing real food is for our body. It didn't discuss low carbs, fat free foods, or how to properly combine food to lose weight. It talked about how your body can be healed of diseases simply by eating certain fruits and veggies. I was in. As a kindergarten teacher at the time, I had to bring my lunch to school. But I knew I needed to ditch the Lean Cuisines and fat free meal replacements I was used to. One day I sat down and scoured the internet for real food recipes. This was a good 8 years ago now so there were fewer resources back then. It took me 2 hours to decide on something. I finally found a lunch recipe I was going to make (some kind of tuna and veggies dip thingy) and a dinner that would last me the week. I hit the store and when I got home I went to work, cooking up a storm. Four hours later I had a fridge full of meals, all lined up in perfect little Tupperware containers and I felt proud, exhilarated, and a little exhausted. But hey, I am going to be healthy! I took my first container to work on Monday. At lunch time I grabbed my container, still patting myself on the back for being so healthy, and took my first bite....
It was gross. It was so bad that I knew there was no way some salt or toppings would make it better. And I was devastated. All that time and money down the drain, and I'm hungry.
I was so frustrated, but I knew that I needed to get real food into my body so I could start feeling better. So I kept at it.
For the next year or so I was constantly looking up recipes, reading health articles, and cooking my heart out. I had many failed meals which taught me so much. With each gross or burnt dish I made I learned what to expect next time. I learned things like when to tell if an avocado is ripe, or how to ripen bananas faster. Which vegetables can be cut at the beginning of the week and still be fresh toward the end, and how long I can have a cucumber in the crisper drawer before it goes bad. There was so much to learn and I was absorbing it all through trial and error.
Eventually I came to three conclusions about meal prepping:
1. I'm not into eating the same thing all week.
2. I don't like spending hours looking for good recipes.
3. I want to spend 60-90 minutes a week cooking, tops.
So I started creating what I now call my Batch Cooking Framework, a way of creating components of a deconstructed meal so you can pull from them throughout the week to make the meals you want. No elaborate recipes needed and you have the ability to change up your meals each day.
It's kinda like those magazine articles that tout 10 clothing pieces = 30 looks. (Thanks for pointing that out Christina Tidwell on your LiveWell Podcast episode!) We are batch cooking staples for the week that we can put together to create any meal we want.
And possibly the best part? It takes about an hour a week.
I can honestly say that this framework has changed my health and life. It has given me a realistic approach to cooking healing, real food. No more spending 6 hours on Sunday following recipes I'm not sure are good just to have a fridge full of bland food. It saves me time, it saves me money, it tastes delicious, and it has helped me achieve my health goals.
What is better than that???
If you would like to learn more about my batch cooking framework, click here! My Batch Cooking Framework Course, that goes through exactly what I do and how I do it, will be available for purchase from Wednesday, May 6th through Wednesday, May 13th.