Busy schedules leave less time for important matters like meal prep. Yet, when fulfilling several roles, meal prep for optimal energy and heart health is essential. Nearly 44% of American women have heart disease, which affects women of all ages. Likewise, fatigue may indicate cardiovascular problems, insomnia, poor diet, depression, vitamin deficiencies or stress.
Eating right throughout the day can prevent heart issues and falling asleep at your desk. Here are seven ways to upgrade your meal prep to boost your energy and heart health.
1. Optimize Salad Creations
The same salad every day will get dull fast. Instead, line up numerous toppings and proteins to give yourself options. One salad may have dried cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese crumbles and grilled chicken — another might include black beans, tomatoes, avocado and shrimp or salmon. Salmon contains ample omega-3 fatty acids, deemed excellent for promoting heart health and preventing stroke, heart attacks and other cardiovascular events.
2. Keep the Staples
Stocking the pantry will ensure a more straightforward meal prep routine. Some items you might want to have on hand include the following:
Brown rice, quinoa and polenta
Whole wheat pasta
Dried or canned beans and legumes
Low-sodium and syrup-free canned fruits and vegetables
Healthy fats — olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil
Baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch and flour
Mixed nuts and seeds
Organic peanut butter or almond butter
Fortunately, pantry staples will last a while. It’ll also relieve stress from deciding how to add variation to meals.
3. Store Spices and Seasonings
Seasonings can take any meal from drab to fab. Therefore, switching things up with new flavors is a great way to make meal planning a part of your weekly routine.
Herbs and spices are jam-packed with nutrients and minerals for a healthier body. For instance, studies show cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity, which otherwise contributes to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
4. Batch Cook
Batch cooking might seem like a lot of work, but it could be well worth your time. In fact, it could save time for other essential tasks on your schedule.
Whip up an easy stir fry with mixed vegetables and chicken, then prepare rice or quinoa for filling grain bowls. Also, consider boiling eggs or mixing canned beans to create bean salads.
5. Stock Meals in the Freezer
Freezer meals are another excellent way to upgrade your meal prep. Just stick them in the freezer and take one out the night before to defrost. They’re also beneficial for feeding the whole family a nutritious meal with little time to cook — especially on nights you get held up at soccer practice.
Remember to label the containers with the date to remind yourself of when you stored them. For instance, ground meats last three to four months in the freezer, while cooked poultry lasts six months.
6. Write Down Your Favorite Meals
If you know what energy-boosting recipes are your go-to dishes, it’ll be much easier to decide what to make. A small journal will suffice for jotting down recipes, ingredients, shopping lists and notes.
Access to this information in a cinch will also relieve stress around your meal-prepping efforts. Additionally, keeping track of family favorites is helpful if you have picky eaters.
7. Schedule Time
Fitting meal prep for heart health and energy into your schedule will turn a once-in-a-while effort into a habit that sticks. Perhaps your need for a meal-prep upgrade comes down to making time for it altogether.
Designate one day a week — such as Sunday — to shop, cook and pre-portion your meals in containers. It’ll make it faster and easier to get out the door in the morning and have dinner ready for the family when you get home.
Meal Prep for Better Health
Regardless of what your life looks like — whether you work, are a stay-at-home mom or do both — you should never compromise your well-being. Meal prepping for your heart and energy is crucial for ensuring future health. Taking time to upgrade your meal prepping and streamlining the process will make a difference.