I like to prepare different components of the meal on a free day when I have time. Sundays are great because it forecasts what the rest of the week will look like.
I don't like to prepare for the whole week because it's too boring to eat the same food over and over again. I make it easy though--a lot of the time I pre-chop only veggies so I can quickly make a stir-fry in the morning and then let it cool while I'm getting ready before packing it up. It also helps to give yourself options.
Here I have (from the bottom left counterclockwise) some greens I washed and chopped up (there is raw red cabbage hidden underneath but not everyone likes raw cabbage), some peppers and carrots cut up in strips for easy snacking, choice of pasta or rice (here I use gluten free pasta and brown rice), roasted veggies, chopped strawberries, and homemade avocado dip.
Make enough that when you're also in the house and hungry, you can have some to snack on.
Now when you need to make yourself a meal in advance, all you have to do is take an empty container and layer the different components. Super simple!
I always put the wettest bit on top so it's easier to mix later. Then depending on what I have on hand, I'll also add lemon juice, olive or flax oil, and some fresh herbs. Since I've managed to keep my basil plant alive long enough for it to regenerate new leaves (I swear, I am an accidental plant killer because plants always die at my fingertips welp), I sprinkled some on top.
The finished product:
Pretty to look at, appetizing, and easy on the wallet! I also pack extra snacks for in between meals (comes in handy after working out or carrying heavy trays of food more welp).
My Favorite Snacks:
-Dried Fruits and Nuts: Having a variety works best so you don't get bored of the same taste and texture.
-Fresh fruit: Apples, oranges, bananas, etc.
-Dark Chocolate: Anti-oxidants yes, but mainly because it tastes really good.
-Roasted Seaweed: It's the bomb dot com.
-Snack Bars/Energy Bars: I stocked up on Lara bars, Clif Bars, Kind Bars in college for a midday energy boost. I admit in Berlin, I don't buy energy bars because they are too expensive, but I do make my own Lara bar hybrid.
-Cereal: Some people can't eat dry cereal but I love it.
Anyway, those were a few tips for anyone looking to incorporate meal planning into their lives. Of course, this was an example of a layered salad meal, but you can do whatever you please (you can hard boil eggs, boil/bake potatoes, make chili with rice and corn salsa on top, etc.) I just want to point out that though some people will claim they don't have time to prepare all these different things, it actually saves time because there's no worrying about it later. And I love toting food around because it makes me happy to know there's a meal waiting for me inside my bag, not to mention it's a great conversation starter because most people will be curious as to what you've prepared.
Happy eating everyone~