The holidays are officially in full swing and we’re finding ourselves feeling a tad overwhelmed. Anyone else? Between holiday parties, friend get-togethers, work dinners, keeping up with work, family time, travel, shopping for gifts, decorating the house…AND trying to cook and eat healthfully?

So here’s the thing. Meal prep doesn’t have to wait until January. And it doesn’t have to be complicated either. Sometimes “meal prep” means writing down what dinner will be each night and making sure to grab those convenience items from the freezer section—like frozen cauliflower rice and always have leafy greens on hand to use for salads, soups or smoothies. Start prepping a few items for weekday meals now and your mind, body and sanity will keep you afloat during the stressful holiday moments.

Here are our top 5 ways to meal prep to keep a healthy diet during the week.

1. Chop fresh veggies like bell pepper, carrots, celery or grab a bag of baby carrots and snap peas and have them on hand along with hummus and/or guacamole for dipping. When you get hungry before dinner, snack on these. If you need a side for your lunch, throw these in. Fill up on the good stuff before you head out to a party where you know you’ll snag a cookie from that dessert tray. You can also throw these into a pan to sautee for a stir fry or mix in with pasta OR you can line them up on a pan with some heartier vegetables (like squash and potatoes) and roast them up in the oven at 400 degrees.

2. Cook a hearty soup that will last throughout the week. We love this chickpea coconut lime soup and it didn’t get old after 4 lunches in a row. SO much flavor. We added shredded chicken to the mix for extra protein. Having a nutritional, fiber and protein filled soup is the best way to avoid ordering takeout when you’re starving and coming home from a tough workout after a long day. You’ll also save yourself some serious cash if you portion it out for lunch throughout the week.

3. Use your crock pot or instant pot to prepare shredded chicken OR sautee ground turkey to use for salads, burrito bowls, stir fry, pasta dishes, etc.

4. Prepare a grain like brown rice or quinoa to add to salads, use as a base for a healthy veggie stir fry, burrito bowl or add to your soup of the week. Cook a big batch and throw it into a container and into the fridge.

5. Buy healthy sweet alternatives to have on hand. Instead of baked goods, chocolate or ice cream (which we love all of those things, but sometimes have to pace ourselves during this joyful season) have fruit around like fresh pomegranate seeds, apples, oranges, bananas, berries or whatever fruit you enjoy. Kombucha also hits the spot when you want to avoid alcohol and treat yourself to a sweet, bubbly beverage.

We’re all about balance at StudioHop and firmly believe in treating yourself and not taking yourself too seriously. If you can’t make it to a workout today, do not fret. If you have one too many cookies at a party (or on your couch at home while binging Netflix…not speaking from experience or anything), don’t worry about it. Meal prep and planning at least 2-3 nights of healthy dinners during the week during this season has helped us to feel better and enjoy those treats even more. What are your meal prep tips and tricks?

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