If your work week leaves you too busy to make healthy decisions, then you may want to consider utilizing your weekend to prepare for a healthier week ahead. Time spent planning your meals, preparing healthy food ahead of time, getting some rest, and preparing for your workouts can give you the tools you need to make healthier choices in the week ahead. 

Meal prep is the best way to ensure you have a healthy work week. Fast food and junk foods are never more tempting than they are when you’ve had a busy day at the office. Having healthy foods ready to go is the best way to fight off those convenience-food temptations. Utilize your spare time on the weekend to meal plan, shop for healthy groceries, and then prep healthy snacks and meals ahead of time. It can be tempting to simply wander the grocery store aisles grabbing whatever looks or sounds good. However, if you take time to plan your meals and prep a few items in advance, you’ll be much more likely to stick with your healthy diet during the busyness of the work week.

There are so many healthy things you can make and refrigerate or freeze; you also can separate items into individual portions to keep your portion control in check and to help you get out the door faster during the week. For example, wash, chop, and separate vegetables and hummus into individual servings for a healthy snack.  Prepare individual servings of fruit, yogurt parfaits, soups, salads, nuts, and crackers, then store everything in a central area in your refrigerator. That way, during your hectic weekday mornings, you will be able to simply reach in the fridge and grab whatever you need for your day.

It’s also important to use your weekends to catch up on laundry. Don’t let the lack of clean gym clothes stop you from getting in your workouts. Make sure your workout gear is washed and ready for the week ahead. On Sunday night lay out your workout clothes for the next morning if you exercise at home, or pack your gym bag if you plan on heading to the gym. On a sleepy Monday morning, it is easy to forget to put something in your gym bag, so avoid the trouble by packing what you need the night before.

Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to catch up on your sleep over the weekend. You know that sleep is important to your overall health; however, a busy work and home life often leads to getting less sleep than you need. While catching up on your sleep over the weekend is never as beneficial as getting a full night’s sleep every night, it can help you recharge. On Sunday night, enjoy a relaxing evening at home and unwind with some reading, a bath, or gentle yoga, then head to bed early. This will help ensure you wake up Monday morning with the energy you need to begin your week.

Of course, enjoying some “me time” and hanging out with friends during the weekend is important too. However, if you can set aside time to prepare for a healthy work week, you will be much more likely to succeed in meeting your healthy lifestyle goals. Good health doesn’t happen by accident, and maximizing your weekends is a great way to ensure the busyness of your week doesn’t interfere with your healthy intentions.

Ideas for Healthy Lunches

Sometimes, trying to think up new and exciting lunches to bring to work everyday can be a bit trying…so you end up either resigning yourself to purchasing food, only to lament at a later date, “oh my goodness, I can’t believe I spent this much money on lunches!”, or else you settle for eating the same, old boring sandwiches. But homemade lunches don’t have to be a bore, there are tons of easy to make, healthy options that will ensure you are counting down the minutes until noon!

Easy Burrito Bowl

Recipe from damndelicious.net

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked rice
1 cup salsa, homemade or store-bought
3 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
1 (15.25-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (15-ounce) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

For the chipotle cream sauce:
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chipotle paste
1 clove garlic, pressed
Juice of 1 lime
¼ teaspoon salt, or more, to taste

Instructions

To make the chipotle cream sauce, whisk together sour cream, chipotle paste, garlic, lime juice and salt; set aside.

In a large saucepan of 1½ cups water, cook rice according to package instructions; let cool and stir in salsa; set aside.

To assemble the bowls, divide rice mixture into serving bowls; top with lettuce, corn, black beans, tomatoes, avocado and cilantro.

Serve immediately, drizzled with chipotle cream sauce.

Peanut Tofu Wrap

Recipe from EatingWell.com

Ingredients:

1 tbsp store bought Thai peanut sauce
1 8-inch whole-wheat flour tortilla
2 oz. thinly sliced, seasoned, baked tofu
¼ cup sliced red bell pepper
8 thinly sliced snow peas

Directions:

Spread peanut sauce on the tortilla. Place tofu, peppers and snow peas in the centre, fold the sides over the filling and roll up.

Chopped Thai Salad with Sesame Garlic Dressing

Recipe from pinchofyum.com

For the dressing:

1/3 cup canola oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon lemongrass paste (ginger would also work)
A squeeze of lime juice

For the salad:

16 ounces frozen shelled edamame
5-6 cups baby kale
3 large carrots
2 bell peppers (1 red, 1 yellow)
1 cup cilantro leaves
3 green onions
¾ cup cashews (if you can find them, Trader Joe’s Thai Lime and Chili Cashews are the bomb)

Instructions 

Puree all the dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust to fit your preferences. Transfer to a dressing jar and rinse the food processor out for use later.

Cook the edamame by boiling it for 3-5 minutes in a pot of boiling water. Drain and allow it to cool. Meanwhile, slice up the kale, carrots, peppers, cilantro leaves, and green onions into thin strips or shreds.

Place the cooked edamame in the food processor and pulse 5 times to get a minced texture. Transfer to a bowl and repeat the same process for the cashews. Toss the kale, carrots, peppers, cilantro, green onions, edamame, and cashews together until well combined. Drizzle with the dressing, toss gently a few times, and serve immediately.

Notes

The salad will stay fresh longer if you store the dressing separately from the salad ingredients, tossing them together just before serving. 

Agave nectar or sugar would work in place of the honey for vegans.

Those 3 cloves of garlic pack a spicy garlicky punch, so if you don’t love garlic, use less.