Overwhelmed with the idea of meal prepping for PCOS? Not really sure what to actually meal prep?
In this article, I’m going to share my top tips for PCOS meal prep and how to plan balanced meals for PCOS.
This is the same technique I use with my 1:1 nutrient coaching clients and in my membership PCOS Meal Prep to help get PCOS-supportive meals on the table without all the stress. I also use it to manage my own PCOS symptoms.
Table of contents
- Why Meal Prep Matters for PCOS?
- How to plan meals for PCOS?
- What you need to know about meal planning and prepping.
- Tips for PCOS Meal Prepping
- PCOS Meal prep ideas for Breakfast
- PCOS Meal Prep Ideas for Lunch and Dinners
- PCOS Meal Prep Ideas for Snacks
- Staying Consistent and Flexible with PCOS Meal Prep
- Next Steps…
Why Meal Prep Matters for PCOS?
While PCOS is a complex endocrine and metabolic disorder, using nutrition to help improve symptoms doesn’t have to be complicated.
I actually find that meal planning and prepping to be the most useful tool for my clients to meet their health goals. Research even shows that meal planning is associated with a larger food variety, improved diet quality and body weight. (1)
When you are trying to improve blood sugar balance and decrease inflammation with your meals, you need to have a plan.
You’ll be even more successful in reaching your goals if you have some of your meals or components of your meals prepped for the week.
Eating frequently throughout the day, every 3-5 hours, can help manage blood sugar levels and prevent cravings. If you don’t have any snacks prepped and ready to go in the afternoon, you are going to have a hard time avoiding the drive thru on your way home from work.
It can be very difficult to make a healthier choice when you are short on time, too tired to cook or “hangry”. Believe me, I’ve got personal experience with this.
Having a plan and doing some meal prep can help you avoid those situations. It can also help make sure you are eating balanced, PCOS-friendly meals, consistently.
How to plan meals for PCOS?
Meals for PCOS need to address insulin resistance and help balance blood sugars, decrease inflammation, improve gut health and of course be delicious.
My simple formula helps you with building PCOS friendly meals or snacks.
Protein + Fat + Fiber
Making sure each meal or snack (or at least most of them) have protein, healthy fats and fiber will help you address some of the root causes of PCOS symptoms like insulin resistance, inflammation and gut health.
Building a PCOS Meal
How do you utilize this formula to actually make a balanced, PCOS-friendly meal? Here is my 4 step process. But I like to teach my clients both the Protein + Fat + Fiber method and the Balanced PCOS Plate Method so they can adjust based on the meal or their preferences, like a smoothie or a snack plate.
Fill ¼ of your plate with high quality protein. This will help fill you up, keep you satisfied with your meal and help with blood sugar control.
I generally recommend 25-30g protein at each meal, which is about 3-4oz of meat.
Vegetarian sources of protein are great because they also provide fiber! But you need to remember that beans and lentils also provide carbohydrates, so they need to be consumed in moderate portions.
Fill ½ your plate with non-starchy veggies to make sure you are getting enough fiber to help keep you full and satisfied and to help with blood sugar control.
Non-starchy veggies are also low in calories and rich in nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Fillingl ½ your plate with veggies is the easy method for portion control.
Try things like:
Tomatoes and cucumber salad
Spinach, kale or other leafy greens
Sauteed mushrooms with garlic and onions
Roasted brussels sprouts
Add in some healthy fats! Fat doesn’t have any affect on your blood sugar levels. It makes food taste delicious and it can really keep you full and satisfied.
Healthy fats can also help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins in your foods.
Try adding in a few teaspoons to 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to your veggies. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoon of seeds like sesame or hemp seeds on meals. Add ¼ to ½ of avocado to smoothies or meals. Sprinkle in ¼ cup of olives to salads.
Fill ¼ of your plate with complex carbs like whole grains, starchy veggies like potatoes, peas, or corn, beans, lentils, or fruit.
It’s not necessary to avoid carbs when you have PCOS. It is a good idea to include complex carbs with fiber in your meals to help with blood sugar control and prevent cravings.
Meals are also more satisfying, mentally, when they include a source of carbohydrates. I’ve found that when you eliminate the food you really want, you end up craving it and are more likely to overeat it.
What you need to know about meal planning and prepping.
Meal planning is an essential habit for managing PCOS. You need to have an idea of what you will eat throughout the week and have food on-hand to be successful with managing your PCOS symptoms with nutrition.
A PCOS friendly meal plan doesn’t need to be complex or fancy, it just needs to list out a few meals or snacks and help guide you in the grocery store.
Meal prepping for PCOS does not mean having to spend hours in the kitchen on Sunday either.
Tips for PCOS Meal Prepping
- Plan a day each week that you are going to do some meal planning, grocery shopping and meal prepping. These don’t have to all be the same day.
- Don’t pick a day that you can’t stick to. Be realistic with yourself. I hate meal prepping on Sundays, so I do it on #MealPrepMondays
- Review your schedule for the week and identify what days you will have time to cook and which days you need easy meals, leftovers or takeout.
- If you are new to meal prepping and planning, just pick one meal to start with. Take a look at a regular day of eating to notice where you are struggling the most. If you never have a snack in the afternoon and you always end up starving by 4pm eat which leads to eating all the candy at work? Start by planning and prepping just snacks.
- Recognize that you don’t have to meal prep every meal, just the meals or components of meals that are hard for you to make or eat each day. Do you struggle with breakfast? Is lunch always a mystery?
- Do you have a hard time getting 3 cups of veggies per day? Spend some time cutting up veggies for snacks or egg scrambles each week.
- If you want to include more whole grains in your diet each week but are short on time, just prepare a batch of whole grains like brown rice, farro or quinoa and use in different meals throughout the week.
- A sheet pan of roasted veggies can be added to simple dinners of chicken sausage, baked fish or made into a salad with other fresh veggies.
- Take advantage of time you are spending in the kitchen already. Cutting up veggies for dinner? What can you cut up for another meal? Cooking soup on the stove? Why not roast some veggies or a protein for easy meals.
- Utilize kitchen appliances like instant pots, slow cookers, air fryers to multitask in the kitchen.
- When making your meal plan, add a meal that you can easily double, so you can eat again later in the week or for lunch, like sheet pan meals, soups, stews or even a large casserole.
- When prepping up a large amount of grains, protein or veggies, keep the seasoning pretty generally, maybe just salt, pepper and garlic. That way you can use this food in numerous ways. Try using a dressing to add flavor to different meals.
- Pick a homemade dressing to make each week. This can easily add TONS of flavor to otherwise simple meals.
PCOS Meal prep ideas for Breakfast
- Meal prep smoothie packs- add all ingredients, except liquid, into a container like this or like this, and freezer. When ready to make your smoothie, dump into a blender, add liquid and blend!
If you need some PCOS smoothie inspiration, check out this blog post.
- Chia puddings
- Overnight oats- Check out this article on PCOS friendly overnight oats.
- Egg bakes or egg muffins
- Prep and pre-cook veggies like onions, mushrooms, peppers, ect to easily add to scrambled eggs or egg cups
- Cook up extra whole grain waffles on the weekend to top with peanut butter and fruit during the week.
- Prep and freeze breakfast burritos
- Prep and freeze english muffin breakfast sandwiches
PCOS Meal Prep Ideas for Lunch and Dinners
These meal prep ideas work well for both lunch and dinner. Take a look and the Meal Prep Tip section as well.
- Cook up a pot of whole grains like farro, brown rice, wheat berries, corn, quinoa or whole wheat pasta to use in meals throughout the week.
- Roast chicken thighs or breasts in the oven, seasoned with your favorite seasoning and then add to meals throughout the week.
- Don’t be afraid of convenience proteins like canned salmon, tuna or even frozen nuggets. ( I love the brand Just Bare Chicken Breast Chunks for super easy meals)
- Your pressure cooker can make the best “rotisserie” chicken ever. You can cook one for another meal while making dinner.
- Sheet pans of roasted veggies, I can’t say enough about this. They can be used to make salads, added to grain bowls or pureed with beans and a liquid to make a creamy pasta sauce.
- Even cutting up veggies for different meals, all at once, can help you get meals on the table quicker.
- Make a large pot of beans that can be used for multiple recipes like a bean dip, on salads, in grain bowls and tacos for the week.
- Try doubling 1-2 meals each week and freezing the leftovers. Before you know it, you have a freezer full of homemade meals you can pull from on busy weeks.
- Bento boxes or snack plates make great meal prep lunches- just include protein, fiber, complex carb and healthy fats.
PCOS Meal Prep Ideas for Snacks
- Chia puddings
- Yogurt parfaits with berries, nuts and cinnamon
- Protein Energy Bites made with oats, nut butters, flaxseeds/hemp hearts, collagen peptides, ect.
- Muffins made with whole grain flours. Bonus if you can add in protein powder or just pair with a protein like nut butter or a cheese stick.
- Trail Mix- Nuts, seeds, whole grain cereal, dried fruit, or even chocolate chips.
- Smoothie bags with all the prepped ingredients
- Prepped, ready to eat veggies and fruit. Cutting up veggies like carrots and bell peppers and fruits like pineapple, will significantly increase the chance of you grabbing it when you want a snack.
- Pre-portioned nut butters for fruits like apples or bananas.
- Pre-portioned dips like hummus or tzatziki dip, will increase the likelihood that you will bring it to work in the morning with those veggies you chopped up.
Staying Consistent and Flexible with PCOS Meal Prep
Just like PCOS management, creating a meal prepping habit needs to be sustainable and doable.
Let go of the notion that you need to have an entire fridge of perfectly prepped and organized meals in beautiful glass jars.
I honestly just wrap up my roasted veggies in the tin foil that I cook them in. No dirty pans or storage containers.
Learn to be flexible in your meal planning and what is considered a “meal” (scrambled eggs for dinner is never a problem”.
As you become more comfortable with meal prepping, keep a log of your favorites things, whether that is to prep veggies or cook a “rotisserie” chicken in the instant pot and make that your regular routine.
If you want more help with planning PCOS-friendly meals and taking action in the kitchen, then check out the PCOS Meal Prep membership. It provides you with weekly, dietitian created Meal Plans/Guides and weekly, guided meal prep sessions to help you take action in the kitchen, stay accountable and provide support.
- Check out the PCOS Meal Prep Membership to help you consistently get PCOS-supportive meals, on the table, without all the stress.
- Check out this article on the PCOS Food List
- Want to dive in deeper into PCOS nutrition? Take my FREE 5-Day PCOS Course- Balance Your Plate for Happy Hormones.