Planing ahead is key to saving time. You have other priorities: School, work, family, relationships. It's hard to eat healthy when your schedule is so GO, GO, GO. I understand being busy is a huge struggle when it comes to eating healthy and working out. I once heard: "There are people in the world that are busier than you, who make time." It is true, don't kid yourself into thinking you're the only one with shit to do. The people that make their health a priority are the ones who plan ahead. Taking 1-2 hours on a Sunday to prepare your meals will save 1-2 hours per day of the week on your meals. So in the long run, eating healthy actually SAVES TIME.
((If you're worried about taking time away from family on a Sunday, make it a family event! Have your kids help you package the no bake items and get your hubby in on the fun too!))
Here's how I do it:
Step 1: Plan it! What will you be eating for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and dinner? Do you know your calorie count/how much you SHOULD be eating? Mark down everything from the dressing on your salad. Plan the meals and then write down the ingredients list for the grocery store. My #1 tip would be to have this meal plan accessible at all times; not only during your prep, but during your week where ever you go so you know what to be eating at what times.
Step 2: Prepare for it. From containers to your fridge, you need to prepare for your meal prep, especially if it's your very first one! What you will need: tupperware, baggies, permanent marker, and a lunch pale.
Go buy durable containers that are microwavable. They don't have to be incredibly expensive, I got my Rubbermade set of 20 off amazon for under $20 and they are amazing! Don't go to the dollar store and buy cheapo plastic ones. I decided it was time to invest in durable containers when I dropped my lunch down the stairs and there was rice and chicken all over three flights. My click on Rubbermade would have survived that fall! Here's the link to the ones I have:
The second thing you need to do to prepare your kitchen for the prep and the food. Not only should you make sure your sink and dishwasher are empty (to avoid the overwhelm), but you should clean out your fridge. Cleaning out your fridge will make room for the new food as well as get rid of the junk you shouldn't be eating
Step 3: Grocery shop. Stick to the plan. Don't buy anything extra, don't go off track. I've written a blog on grocery shopping tips, but my #1 tip for grocery shopping for meal plans is do it separately than the family shopping trip. Don't buy your sons half time snacks with your meal plan groceries. The first reason is it's important to know the cost of your weekly prep, and secondly, it's less overwhelming to bring the grocery haul in when you have only your supplies. You can set everything out on the counter and won't have to worry about separating your food from the families.
TIME: PREPARE TO SPEND AT LEAST 2 HOURS MEAL PREPPING.
DAYS: PREP FOR 1 WEEK ONLY. OVERWHELMED? PREP 3-4 DAYS TO BEGIN.
Step 4: When you're ready to start but don't know where to begin, start with the no bake foods. I portion out everything from my morning fruit and spinach for my eggs, to my afternoon crackers and mixed veggies, down to cutting the lettuce for my dinners.
I write down on the baggy what time and day I should be eating each item.
You can even go as far as cracking your eggs into individual containers so they're ready to pour into the pan each morning. If you don't mind some moisture, you can cook your eggs early.
Step 5: Prepare the meats. I do lunch and dinner meat at the same time. This round I fried some Turkey Kielbasa with olive oil while the lemon pepper, rosemary chicken cooked in the oven.
Step 7: As I go I lay my foods out like this so I don't forget anything. The final step is packaging each individual item into 1 days package. I put breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner into a plastic or paper sack and label the day. Another way to do it is to stack all the breakfast for the week, snacks, and lunch etc, into single stacks and rows in your fridge.
Last tip: Keep it simple! Don't overwhelm yourself by cooking everything at once. Get one thing started, let it bake and start another. There's no point in waiting for the chicken to be done before starting the noodles, but don't try give attention to multiple things at once.
Follow step by step and clean up as you go.