Did you know that 20% of American meals are consumed in your car?¹  Americans consume 31% more packaged food than fresh food² and 1 in 4 individuals eat some for of fast food daily³. YIKES!!! We love statistics it is important to take a step back, look at our choices, and take action to make positive changes.

Commit to grocery shopping:

Many people start out trying to meal prep with food they have around the house.  Opening that can of Spaghetti o’s or cooking prepackaged meals are not much better than your trip to a restaurant. You may start your meal prepping journey by heading to the grocery store to pick up some fresh food more suitable to meet your goals. Limit processed and canned foods.  Shop the perimeter of the store to save money and reduce temptation of filling your cart with packaged, over-processed foods.  Create a list before you head to the store and stick to the list.  It is always tempting to fill the cart with unnecessary items when you do not have a plan.

Keep it simple:

With food prepping you are going to want to keep it simple with your food choices. Focus on three macro-nutrient groups: Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats.

See below for a few ideas for each food group!

Protein: Chicken breast,  beans, lentils, lean ground beef, pork, steak, tuna

Carbohydrates: Oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, broccoli, wilted greens, brown rice, wild rice, whole-grain tortillas and wheat or whole grain bread.

Healthy fats: Avocados, Almonds, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, almond butter, olive oil and coconut oil

Pick a day:

Preparing your meal for the day every morning may set you up for failure and is time consuming. The best way to successfully prep is to pick a day of the week where you have time to spend planning and preparing for the week ahead. Our family usually picks Sunday because I have more time to devote towards cooking and prepping our week intake.  We are also able to do a pantry and fridge inventory to see what items we may need to fill the gaps during the week.  Remember you will want to prepare your protein, carb and fat choices in larger quantities and transfer them into smaller containers for the week ahead. An example of this could be roasting a whole chicken or throwing multiple chicken breasts into the Instapot with spices.  While the protein cooks you can prepare a variety of vegetables, such as mixed veggies in the skillet or baked sweet potatoes, and then divide all foods into appropriate portions in containers for your meals.  Another family favorite of ours are burrito bowls.  By prepping larger quantities of chicken, rice, beans, and peppers you can have a quick and delicious meals ready in minutes. A few minutes of chopping fresh vegetables for toppings can create a fresh, healthy, and nutritious meal to pair with your pre-made burrito bowl.

Hopefully you find these tips helpful and will start thinking ahead versus scrambling at the last minute to find options to feed your family!

–Melanie Dockter DC CACCP

1.Schlosser, Eric. “Americans Are Obsessed with Fast Food: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal.” CBSNews. Accessed April 14, 2014.

2.Fairfield, Hannah. “Factory Food.” The New York Times. Accessed April 14, 2014.

3.Stanford University. “What’s for Dinner?.” Multidisciplinary Teaching and Research at Stanford. Accessed April 14, 2014.