One of my favorite points of conservation fitness is teaching people to meal prep. It has a powerful impact on our health and nutrition, and the environment.
When we prepare our meals ahead of time, we eliminate the need to find other convenient food options. Things like the vending machine, fast food, or convenience store food purchases. None of these items are good for you. They don’t fuel you, and they don’t nourish you. Even if weight loss is your absolute last concern, eating junk food on the go is not the way to achieve your fitness goals.
Meal Prep Versus Convenient Food-Like Substances
Meal prep is also easy on the budget. Fast food SOUNDS cheap, but overall, you save money when you eat from home. Besides the money you pay for “cheap” convenient food, there is also the cost to your health. Healthy choices today is like investing in your health tomorrow. Lower your health costs in medications, doctor visits, and risks of serious health conditions by making better choices now.
But there is another issue with fast and convenient food. Nearly all food in vending machines, and a huge majority of fast food restaurants package their food in plastic. And it’s not even just the food itself, the plastic is all over behind-the-scenes, too. Food is shipped in plastic, cleaning materials (don’t get me wrong, I LIKE a food preparer to wear gloves), and all supplies come in plastic.
Since this is a month to practice cutting down plastic, I have yet another super helpful tip for everyone. Cut out fast food and convenience food-like substances from your diet. Simple, right? Maybe, but definitely not easy.
Unless you learn to meal prep.
Prepare for Success
Meal prep has several aspects to it. For today, I’m going to focus on the most common interpretation of meal prep- preparing meals ahead of time.
It doesn’t take nearly as long to prepare a week’s worth of lunch as you might think. And you can do it with a significant reduction in plastic use.
The simplest, easiest meal to pre-make for the week is a salad. And it’s super easy to get ALL your ingredients plastic free. Lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, bell peppers, and tomatoes can all be bought without plastic. You can top your salad with items from the bulk section- sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans, raisins, dried fruit, coconut, and plenty of other choices.
But what makes the salad is the dressing. Here is my husband’s favorite salad dressing, homemade without any plastic.
Chris’ Italian Dressing
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp each of oregano, basil, and thyme
Mix all ingredients in a mason jar. Shake up before each use. Makes at least five servings. Can be stored on a counter top, or in a cupboard. No refrigeration necessary.
To meal prep the salad, chop all ingredients and divide among 5 Tupperware, or reusable containers. Stock in your fridge, and when you need a lunch, grab a container and head out the door.
And, in case salads are not your cup of tea, let me help you out with my latest favorite quick fix lunch-
Mexican Couscous Bowl
- 3 cups dry couscous (from bulk)
- 1 cup dry black beans, prepared (soaked for 4 hours and cooked for 2-4 hours), or 2 cans black beans
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped
- 1 bunch green onions
- 2 cans corn, drained
- 1-2 avocado
- 1 cup salsa, divided (glass jar)
- 1 cup plain yogurt (from a glass jar)
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- Prepare couscous according to directions. Typically, even bulk item couscous is super easy to make. Boil twice the amount of water as couscous (so for 3 cups couscous, you need about 5 ½ to 6 cups water). Once boiling, simply stir in couscous, and remove from heat. Cover and leave to sit for 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and you’re good to go.
- Prepare beans. If you are using canned beans (which I get is 20 billion times easier, but I like the dry bulk beans to cut waste down), cook in a medium saucepan over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
- While couscous is sitting and beans are cooking, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Chop and dice both red bell peppers and all the green onions, both tops and white part. Mix together in a large bowl. Add corn. Mix well and set aside.
- Peel and pit avocado. Cut into quarters and then slice into bite sized bits. Keep separate from other ingredients.
- When couscous is ready, divide it among 5 containers. Top the couscous with black beans. Add the corn, onion, and pepper mix. Then top with avocado. Pour a little salsa on top of each bowl and place containers in fridge.
- Prepare the yogurt sour cream. Mix the yogurt and lime juice together. Sprinkle chili powder or cumin for added flavor. Place in a reusable container and place in fridge next to couscous bowls.
- When ready to grab and go, grab a container of couscous and the yogurt mixture. Put a dollop of the “sour cream” on top and you’re good for lunch.
This easy to make quick lunch tastes way too good to be healthy. But it really is good for you. I made this for after the triathlon, for me and the hubby. Historically, there are tons of snack foods at the finish line for participants. But besides historically being unhealthy for you, these items are sometimes wrapped in plastic.
Like a Boss
Instead of feeding into temptation, we are bringing my picnic backpack and plenty of food for us to enjoy while partaking in the festivities of the day.
Meal prepping makes your willpower stronger by pre-committing to your healthy homemade (and ridiculously delicious) options over the convenient food-like substances. It’s just one of the ways you can be an eco-fit-warrior, by meal prepping like a conservation boss.