As a busy mom, I can always think of reasons why NOT to mealprep. The kids won’t eat it, I don’t have enough time, its too much work, I don’t have energy to do it at the end of the day…
But several years ago, in fact most noticeably after I started my first elimination diet (at that time it was the whole 30) I realized how important it was to meal PLAN and PREP ahead of time. The elimination diet didn’t allow for a quick pasta or a takeout meal. It was whole food based with no added sugars, which made for very intentional meal brainstorming.
I was lucky in that at that time there were Whole 30 cookbooks and e-books, and since it was only a month we (my husband who was doing it with me) quickly figured out some favorites and repeated those a few times, threw in a daily salad, and we were done. We became more conscious of label reading, and ideally were not eating things with labels at all. We would try to make ahead and freeze, have handy snacks on the go, and drink lots of water to help control cravings!
But when you are doing an elimination diet, or transitioning to a new food plan, or even getting excited about eating more plants, one thing is true — learning to cook and eat fresh food from home will not only be helpful, but will become a necessity. You don’t need to be a sous chef, but learning a few basic meals, getting comfortable with knife and basic culinary skills, and learning how to pre-prep to have healthy snacks on the ready will be key to creating sustainable habits.
So how do you transition to your new cleaner diet and still socialize?! You can host plant based potlucks, or themed get-togethers around a food ingredient, or better yet, organize a Powerbowl party! What does that mean, and how do you do it?
Its actually very simple. You invite some friends over (I’d recommend 4-6 to start, otherwise it can get too big), ask everyone to bring their own containers (I love the mason jars because of their portability, uniformity, and multipurpose usability) — maybe 6? Assign everyone an ingredient category — think sauce/dressing, non-starchy vegetable, grain, bean/lentil or other protein or cheese, spiced nuts/seeds, another veggie… Have each person make enough for 6 x 6 (36) ppl to eat a small amount.
You can make this easier on your guests if you want to save a step and buy all the mason jars ahead of time and maybe ask for a donation, but basically everyone will come home from the event with 6 full mason jars to use throughout the week! If you are feeling ambitious you can do a breakfast too for half of the jars. Something like overnight oats with guests bringing various fixings (nut butter, fruit, spices, seeds) or chia pudding are great options. The “salad bar” spread works well in case anyone has a particular allergy or like/dislike.
Let me know if you try one of these parties! Its a great way to socialize, get the mealprep DONE for the week and have fun in the process.. And you will be so thankful all week when all you have to do is grab a jar from the fridge and go!