Taking the Chore Out of Meal Prep and Making it FUN

Good-morning all! So, you got it! A post on making meal prep (“MP”) FUN and enjoyable this morning, since most of the time, it just feels like an extra “to-do” on our lists for the week. Thank you for your email responses & comments letting me know that this post feels important to you.

Well, let’s dive straight in! There are several things we need to do in order to make meal prep fun…

1. Know when it’s necessary, and when it’s not (you don’t ALWAYS have to prep)
2. Understand that MINDSET COUNTS. What makes doing meal prep feel JOYFUL and not a chore?
3. Allow it to FEEL a little more spontaneous and a little less planned
4. Do a “once over” on your life – what are your obstacles?
5. Remember, we’re creatures of habit – which part of the week do you have down time?
6. Imagine yourself in the kitchen, what do you need to make this time more enjoyable?
7. What will you be able to look forward to once you’re done?

Taking the Chore Out of Meal Prep and Making it FUN

Okay, so we’ve got the guidelines. Now, here’s how this is going to work. I’m going to show some photos of my last meal prep (over the weekend), walk you through my experience with these guidelines, and hopefully give you enough info and inspiration for you to be able to look FORWARD to meal prep on your own (IF it’s something that is helpful for you).

Chicken rice fajitas topped with cilantro, cheese, and salsa

1. Know when it’s necessary, and when it’s not (you don’t ALWAYS have to prep)

What’s on your “meal ideas list” this week? (See this post for meal *planning*). Do your meals require any prep? Or, is this a week where it would be okay to just make the meals as you eat them?

Homemade colorful dinner | Rice, chicken and roasted peppers topped with cilantro, cheese, and salsa

For me, I totally COULD have saved the meal preparation for each night, but, I knew I had some downtime, and I figured “well, doing this now will make my weeknights easier, and that sounds like I’m being nice to my future self, so YES. I *want* to do this now.”

2. Understand that MINDSET COUNTS. What makes doing meal prep feel JOYFUL and not a chore?

Read how to take the chore out of meal prep and make it fun from Paige Schmidt.

This one is HUGE! Ladies, if we think something is “the worst ever,” or we’re “dreading it,” oh my goodness, by all means, take it off your list… OR, change your mindset about it (you have TWO options, as you can see).

When I first started eating intuitively, I had this new mindset around previously forbidden foods, and that was “if you’re going to eat it, you may as well enjoy it.” So, when I’d eat ice cream, for example, I would FULLY enjoy it. I knew that if I didn’t honor my cravings and continued to live depriving myself, my body would continue to figure out how to DEEPLY satisfy those cravings all at once (hello, binges). So, I started treating myself little by little and would FULLY enjoy those treats. I still do this today.

SAME thing with our mindsets around MP (or ANYTHING else that makes our lives easier when we figure out a way to do it consistently – making the bed, cleaning up at night, planning our next day, etc.). We can say “if we’re going to do it, we may as well find a way to enjoy it!”

Here’s why that works: (1) if you don’t HAVE TO do it and you really do not like it, then take it off your list, OR; (2) if you don’t have the option not to do it, because your life will be in shambles the next week if you don’t, then you MAY AS WELL find a way to enjoy it (emphasis: you have to do it either way – you MAY AS WELL enjoy it).

As you continue to read through these guidelines, we’ll talk about HOW to enjoy MP more.

3. Allow it to FEEL a little more spontaneous and a little less planned

Learn how to take the chore out of meal prep and make it fun from Paige Schmidt. Roasted fajita peppers.

Isn’t it true (and this still has a bit to do with our mindsets) that when we think we HAVE TO do something, it feels a little less fun? Or, that we don’t like being told what to do? Okay, well, sometimes we just have to do what needs to be done, right? Yes, that’s true, and okay.

But here’s the thing. You really don’t HAVE TO MP, even if you think you have to. Ultimately, it’s really up to you when it comes down to those minutes before, when you’re thinking “should I really do this? Will it really make a difference?” That’s when we can sometimes say “NAH, this really won’t make THAT MUCH of a difference… I’ll just start next week…” Ahhhhh, and then we feel a huge relief until WHOOPS! Tuesday night comes, we’re exhausted, and don’t feel like cooking then either. SHOOT. “THAT’S WHY I meant to meal prep Saturday…” You see the cycle?

So, what if we took the “HAVE TO” out of it? What if, instead of planning the exact time and day, we just allow it to feel like a fun thing that we can do *if we want to* when it comes up…?

I know some of you are thinking “but I won’t want to!” My guess is, is that if you’re someone who doesn’t like being told what to do, that you’ll be MORE LIKELY to want to meal prep if you believe that you’re choosing to do it all on your own, instead of feeling like you have to.

4. Do a “once over” on your life – what are your obstacles?

Read how to take the chore out of meal prep and make it fun from Paige Schmidt.

Where are the obstacles in your life? What stops you from actually following through with the MP? Is it that you have kids, and it gets hectic? How could you ask for help here consistently?

Is it that you can never find a free moment? That every minute is planned? Where can you say “no” and carve out “chunks” of time during your week, just for you? Consider these downtimes “plans” or “appointments” as well.

Is it that you think MP is a chore? Ah, we need to make it seem more fun! Remember, it’s all about our mindset.

5. Remember, we’re creatures of habit – which part of the week do you have down time?

Read how to take the chore out of meal prep and make it fun from Paige Schmidt. Fajita chicken in a cast iron skillet.

We really are… Just watch your days for a couple of weeks. I bet, that for the most part, you tend to do the same things around the same parts of the week. Which parts of the week do you often have downtime?

If you’re the person who never has downtime, which parts of the week do you always WISH you had downtime? What needs to be cleared out here?

6. Imagine yourself in the kitchen, what do you need to make this time more enjoyable?

How to make meal prep enjoyable with a fun drink in your hand | Ice water with lemon slices, peach & lime vodka soda.

Now, this is the fun part. Imagine yourself having FUN in the kitchen. What does that look like?

For me, I am listening to either music or a lecture. I also am in comfortable clothes, and no shoes. I likely have all of the windows open, so there’s a breeze coming through. My kitchen is also definitely clean to start with, and will be clean once I finish. And, I probably have a fun drink in my hand (recent favs: Pellegrino, ice water with lemon slices, peach & lime vodka soda, etc…).

7. What will you be able to look forward to once you’re done?

Taking the Chore Out of Meal Prep and Making it FUN

Ah, such an important part to think through… Here are some idea sparkers:

When I’m done with MP, I’ll have an easier week set up for myself, and that feels great!
When I’m done with MP, I’ll have a fridge that is full and I’ll be excited to eat good food at home.
When I’m done with MP, I’ll feel accomplished, and be able to rest deeply when I’m done.
When I’m done with MP, I’ll know that I did something, by choice, that was nice for my future self (the self that will be more rested and laid back all week).

When I MP’d this Saturday, I felt great… I had just done something fun that made my whole week easier. After I cooked, I cleaned up the kitchen, and sat down to write cards to friends and family as you see in the picture above :).

Now, before we end, let’s just quickly talk about HOW TO meal prep. You can do MP ANYWAY that you’d like, but I’m going to share my favorite way to MP.

Personally, I do not like making the full dish and separating it out. That feels too “meal preppy” to me (can I say that? Haha!). Instead, I just like to think of the few things that I can cook to make life easier, and them give them each their own containers. Then, throughout the week, I plate, heat, and eat.

This week, I had “club sandwiches” and “Chipotle inspired bowls” on my list. So, the things I knew I could make ahead of time were: chicken, bacon, rice, and veggies. So that’s what I prepped. Which basically just means cooked ahead of time all at once! In 45 minutes I’d cooked everything that through the week would have taken anywhere from 20-45 minutes EACH.

“Cook once, eat many many times.” <– Life saver.

That being said, toward the end of the week, if I have, for example, a little rice, a little chicken, and a little veggies leftover, sure, I’ll reduce the containers and make one little meal out of it, but that’s just to help myself out and make some room in the fridge.

My recommendation: try both ways, and see what works best for you.

Key to MP’ing so your food still sounds good all week: when you’re making your “meal ideas list” and “grocery list” for the week (again, see this post) always pick foods that SOUNDS GOOD. Instead of focusing on eating the “healthiest” menu, focus on eating a more WHOLE menu. So, if you want ice cream, buy the REAL stuff with the best ingredients (I promise, it prob tastes the best too!). If you want cheese, buy a high quality, delicious cheese. If you want wine, knock yourself out of this world. But do not shop based on trying to “be good.” You ARE good. You’re fine. Shop based on what sounds delicious and what will feel good and satisfying.

Was this post helpful? If so, sign-up for more posts like this one, & share this with a friend. 

If I left anything out, or you have lingering questions, ask in the comment section. I’ll either answer you there, or do a full follow up post.

Love,

PaigeSignature

P.S. I hope that what you take away the MOST today is this: Stressing over MP it is worse for you than just giving yourself permission to not do it (esp. if you don’t need to). So, IF YOU’RE GOING TO MP, FIND A WAY TO ENJOY IT.

Love, Paige
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