This blog post is sponsored by iHerb
I recently had a pretty eventful week when my parents were in town for my graduation from Columbia University. In addition to attending various ceremonies, my parents also wanted to squeeze in some shopping and socializing with my friends while they were in New York. They are both health-conscious individuals with slightly different diets; my dad follows a vegetarian diet and avoids most dairy except for an occasional piece of cheese. I would describe my mom as a flexatarian who is open to eating fish and very rarely eats poultry and lamb. So in order to ensure that our busy week did not disrupt our nutrition and that we did not feel overwhelmed with figuring out healthy meals while hanging out in NYC, it was important for me to do some planning before and during their stay with me.
Although I did not do meal prep that week, as I prepared for my parents’ arrival I realized that my planning was very similar to what I usually do leading up to a big meal prep. So, if you’re looking for ways to optimize your meal prep experience by saving time and money, then follow some of these steps.
1. Organize Your Fridge & Pantry Regularly
I’ve found that one of the best ways to keep stock of the ingredients I have is by regularly organizing and cleaning my refrigerator and pantry. Now, I don’t necessarily mean a grand cleaning. At the end of the week, I usually scan my refrigerator for any opened and unused items or minor spills that I may have missed during the week. I discard anything that’s inedible and try to make use of ingredients approaching the end of their shelf life. During this process I also keep track of any ingredients that I need to restock; it’s the precursor to the next strategy.
2. Create a Shopping List
After organizing my pantry and refrigerator it is easier for me to make a shopping list. A traditional pen and paper will do the trick; the shopping lists in the Meal Prep Gallery is a great to get a head start on your own shopping lists. Now, creating a shopping list may seem cliche but it can help you save money and time:
- Less time is spent wandering the supermarket aisles trying to figure out what you should purchase
- There is a reduced likelihood of making multiple trips to the supermarket because of forgotten ingredients
- You are more likely to stick to your “approved” items that do not sabotage your goals. A shopping list can serve as a reminder of your health goals, empower you to make wiser food choices and keep unhealthy items out of your cart.
Now that you have your shopping list, it’s time to shop!
3. Always Have Your Essentials
One of the most helpful grocery shopping strategies that I have adopted is keeping my essentials in stock. My essentials include whole grains, nuts, legumes and spices. These ingredients can be purchased at any point in time; keeping these ingredients in stock makes it easy for me to do quick meal preps at anytime.
During the week of my parents visit to NYC, I was able to cut down my grocery shopping time by getting my essentials using iHerb. It was easy to use the iHerb shopping cart as my shopping list by adding items as they came to mind over a period of 3 to 4 days. In addition to getting my favorite brands of almonds, pumpkin seeds, brown rice and quinoa, it was easy for me to find other ingredients that I have been wanting to try; iHerb has over 5,000 grocery products. For example, I was happy to see that they had Banza Shell Chickpea pasta. I used this high-protein, gluten free pasta along with the California Gold Nutrition Organic Virgin Coconut Oil in my meal prep friendly Tomato Basil Chickpea Pasta (see recipe below).
For me, one of the more exciting realizations about iHerb was that my parents could use it when they return to my home country of Trinidad and Tobago; iHerb ships to over 160 countries and has a Customer Service that supports 10 languages.
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Tomato Basil Chickpea Pasta
1 Box Banza Shell Chickpea Pasta
3 Cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
1 Cup Baby Portobello Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 Cup Red Onions, chopped
1/2 Cup Fresh Basil, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp California Gold Nutrition Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
1/4 Tsp Smoked Paprika
1/4 Tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 Tsp Oregano
3 Sprigs of Thyme
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
1. Cook pasta according to instructions on box. Set aside cooked pasta.
2. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook garlic until medium brown. Add mushrooms, red onions and thyme; cook for about 5 minutes until onions are translucent.
3. Add pasta, basil, smoked paprika, pepper flakes and oregano. Stir until all the ingredients are well mixed.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
Nutrition per serving: 192 Cals; 28g Carb; 6g Fat; 12g Protein; 7g Dietary Fiber
Nutrition calculated using the MyFitnessPal Recipe Importer
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With these three strategies I am able to increase my chances of having a successful meal prep. Planning your meals and nutrition plays a major role in ensuring your fitness success. By thinking ahead and applying some of these strategies you can increase your chances of maintaining a healthy diet even in hectic weeks. So go ahead, organize your kitchen, create a shopping lists and check out iHerb. Use this link to get a discount off your order as a new iHerb customer. New customers can also add Promo Code, WELCOME5 to their shopping cart to get an additional $5 of their order of $40 or more.
What other strategies do you use to make meal prep easier for you and your family? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.