An important part of eating a healthy diet means preparing nutritious meals that provide your body with a wide range of healthy nutrients. Cooking for yourself makes it easy to control the ingredients you put into your body, and allows you to make sure that you are fueling yourself throughout the day with nourishing choices.
However, in a busy life where we are almost always on the go, rarely do we have time to stop and prep a healthy meal. Instead, we often rely on grabbing something quick and convenient for ourselves or our kids, which may save time, but often means we don’t end up eating the option that is the most nutritious.
Prepping meals ahead of time not only saves you valuable time during the week, but it also ensures that you have something healthy on hand to eat when you get hungry. No longer will you have to rely on fast food or that office vending machine.
These tips will make your weekly meal prep a breeze, and will help make it extremely simple to prep meals for your kids as they head back to school, or for you as you power through a busy week at work!
1. Plan out your meals and create a shopping list
The first step to successful meal prep is to plan out the meals you want to eat during your week, and to make a list of the ingredients you’ll need. Before you do your weekly grocery shopping, make sure your list reflects the actual amount of food you plan to eat during the week. This will save you time at the store wondering what to buy, and will help prevent you from spending money on foods and ingredients you may not end up eating.
2. Mix and Match
If planning out each meal for the week seems a bit daunting, you can cook up various ingredients instead, that you can then combine to create different meal combinations. Roast different kinds of veggies (like broccoli, cauliflower, and sweet potato,) cook different grains (like couscous, brown rice, and quinoa,) and grill or roast different proteins (like chicken, salmon, or tofu) to mix and match together in your bowl. Have a few different dressings and healthy dips on hand, so that you can create delicious bowls for your lunches and dinners that are packed with both flavor and nutritious ingredients. Mixing and matching the foods you prep ahead of time will also help keep you from getting bored of eating the same thing every day!
3. Freeze your fruit and veggies in advance
An easy to whip up, perfect on-the-go option for breakfast or a snack is a smoothie, which can pack a ton of healthy ingredients that can fuel you through your day. Try cutting the fruits and veggies you need for your smoothies up ahead of time, and pre-portioning them into freezer bags. All you’ll have to do is grab them and pop them in the blender, add your liquid of choice in the morning, and blend it all up. Try this perfect smoothie that’s delicious to drink, and takes only a few minutes to make.
4. Invest in some fun airtight containers
Pick up some airtight container that can help keep your prepped food fresh for the week ahead. You can get different sizes of containers, or bento-boxes with multiple compartments, which you can fit in your bags or your kid’s backpacks. You can also use mason jars to store your food, by layering your ingredients within it. When it’s time to eat or to take your meal on the go, it will be ready in the fridge as soon as you need it.
5. Check your expiration dates
Check to see how long the food you decide to prep will stay fresh, and plan accordingly so you cook and eat your ingredients by their expiration dates. Not only will this help you eliminate food waste, but you will also get to enjoy the freshest tasting food throughout your week!
6. Try these recipe ideas
Looking for some easy meal prep recipe ideas? Hard boil some eggs, make a batch of whole grain banana muffins, or whip up these overnight oats for an easy breakfast. Try a grain bowl topped with protein, veggies, and hummus for lunch or dinner, or cook up some whole grain pasta that you can mix with your veggies and pesto for an easy ready-to-eat pasta. Want something sweet for a snack or dessert? Try these bliss balls, for a simple-to-make snack that’s both portable and gives you the perfect energy boost when you need a little pick-me-up.
Author: Maggie Harriman