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A Beginner’s Guide to Meal Prep 

It can be extremely overwhelming if you’re trying to switch your diet to all clean, wholesome foods. It’s even more difficult when you already have to plan meals on a tight budget. What may seem much easier, ordering takeout food or living off of frozen microwave dinners and ramen noodles, can actually wreak havoc on your entire body. Prepackaged frozen dinners and ramen noodle flavor packs contain high levels of sodium, which holds onto water and makes you bloat. Although takeout food may seem like a cheaper and quicker option than cooking, those dollars add up quickly, and you can end up blowing through your budget. I’m here to tell you how eating healthy on a budget is super easy, it just requires a little bit of planning.

If you follow any health & fitness inspiration (or “fitspo”) accounts on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest, I’m sure you are familiar with the concept of meal preparation. Meal prep consists of cooking a large batch of food at the beginning of the week that you then divide up into servings, store in Tupperware containers, and then have access to easy, healthy meals for the entire week. There is a preconceived notion that if you want to prep, you have to eat plain chicken breast, broccoli and sweet potato 24/7 in order to “eat clean”. THIS IS NOT TRUE! Although chicken, vegetables and sweet potato are all very healthy and tasty options for meal prep, they are not your ONLY options.

A general rule of thumb while preparing meals is to include a serving each of protein, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa, couscous, and starchy root vegetables like sweet potatoes are all excellent options for carbohydrates). I’ve included a recipe for my personal favorite meal to prepare, Seafood Stir Fry with Brown Rice. This excellent lunch is proof that healthy meals can still be full of flavor. Plus, each serving contains 24 grams of protein, only 340 calories, and is dairy free!

Ingredients (Yields 4 Servings):

  • Mixed Frozen Vegetables (I use Trader Joe’s Asian stir fry vegetable mix with soy sauce)
  • Protein (I use a seafood mix of shrimp, calamari and scallops) – other good examples of protein are steak, chicken or tofu
  • Brown Rice (one cup of Trader Joe’s organic brown rice contains 200 calories)

Leave the packet of sauce to thaw in a cup of hot water. In a skillet, fry vegetables in 1 tsp of vegetable oil, stirring frequently. After 3-4 minutes, add seafood, and continue to stir fry until the seafood is cooked through (a good indicator is when the shrimp is pink and the calamari is firm). Add the sauce, and stir for about 30 seconds.

I like to steam the bags of rice in the microwave while the vegetables are cooking, so they are ready by the time the stir fry is ready. After everything is finished, portion everything evenly into 4 Tupperware containers, and you’re all set!

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Hello, my name is Alexandra! I am a student at Northeastern University pursuing an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering. I enjoy health and fitness, food, and the outdoors.

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