Meal preparation is the key to healthy eating. Too many people get overwhelmed with how to meal prep. Meal prep should be simple, healthy and doable, week after week.
Follow these guidelines for healthy meal prep:
Have a plan of action: This means know what you are going to need to prepare, therefore, you can go to the store and purchase what you need.
Batch cooking works best: My family and I batch cook. This means we cook several different foods and then put these foods together to create meals throughout the week.
Cook the foods that take the longest first. For example, if you are baking rice that takes 45 minutes to cook, put it together and throw it in the oven so it cooks while you prep the other foods.
Avoid spending more than 90 minutes in the kitchen 2 times per week. My goal is to prep for 60 minutes, 2 days per week. It is doable and it does not get old. Spending too much time takes away from your day. Eventually, you will get burned out and stop food prepping.
- Buy in season.
- Prepare the vegetables: Wash them, peel/cut, if needed (such as carrots)
- Cut into bite size or cooking size pieces. Place vegetables in quarter or gallon bags for easy grab and go snacks.
- Roast vegetables. Heat oven to 450. Place assorted veggies on baking sheets with olive oil spray, salt and pepper. Bake until desired tenderness.
- BBQ vegetables: If you are BBQ-ing chicken or fish, grill vegetables as the same time. Use lower heat for the vegetables or place vegetables on the top baking rack of the BBQ.
- Steam vegetables: Clean, cut and throw vegetables in pan with a steamer basket and steam until slightly tender.
* Store all vegetables separate in individual containers or pre package vegetables with your meals. Cooked vegetables are good for up to 3 days.
- Grains usually require stove top or oven or rice cooker. Most grains take any where from 10-45 minutes to prepare.
- Figure out which grains you need for the week.
- Easy Oatmeal: Soak oats in containers or glass jars for up to 3 days. Place oats, cinnamon, vanilla, protein powder and your favorite variety or milk or use water. This is a great grab and go! Add you favorite fruit and/or nuts and you will have an easy and healthy breakfast.
- Boil whole-wheat pasta al dente. Place cooked pasta in covered container or place cooked and cooled pasta into a ziplock bag and freeze. Toss pasta in olive oil and when you are ready to enjoy take frozen pasta out of bag and add to hot water for a few minutes.
- Baked rice: This is a great idea for a quick and easy side dish.
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. olive oil
2 1/3 cup water or broth
Bring broth or water with oil and salt to a boil. Add rice to pre sprayed casserole dish, once water starts to boil, add water mixture to rice in casserole dish. Cover with 2 layers of foil and bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes.
Quinoa: Easy to prepare. 1 part quinoa, 2 parts water. Combine, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and allow liquid to be absorbed. Quinoa is great for veggie bowls or chicken and vegetable bowls. Quinoa and eggs is a great breakfast idea, just scramble the two together and add your favorite veggie.
Keep healthy homemade muffins on hand. These are great as an addition to a breakfast meal, use as a snack or use for after a workout. Use applesauce in a recipe instead of oil. Reduce flour a bit and add a scoop or two of protein powder.
Beans: Dry beans are so inexpensive and very simple to prepare. Rinse and soak overnight. If I meal prep on Monday, I will rinse and soak my beans on Sunday evening. Soaking the beans will give them a more tender texture it will also decrease the enzyme, making the beans less likely to cause gas.
Place soaked beans in slow cooker, add water or broth until the beans are covered by about 1/2-1 inch. I love adding garlic powder and cumin. Place on high and cook for about 4-5 hours or until tender.
Place cooked beans in a shallow container. Allow beans to cool and store in fridge for up to 3-4 days or freeze for about 2 weeks.
These beans can be used for burritos, a side dish, quinoa/bean bowl, mash and make into a mexican pizza, add to chili or other casserole type dishes.
- Purchase protein that is on sale.
- Figure out which proteins you need to go with your meals for the week.
Grill or roast or pan cook. Cut into smaller sizes. This will make cooking quicker. If the chicken is super thick, filet out and cook. Keep your seasoning simple. Salt and pepper works great. You can also grab Italian dressing and marinate the night before.
Keep chicken in ziplock bags or individual containers. Cooked chicken can also be frozen. Freeze and when you are ready to eat, place in fridge to allow to thaw about 8 hours before eating.
Ground turkey can be cooked in a skillet. Ground turkey can be added to chili, casserole type dishes or add to spaghetti sauce for an easy Italian meal.
Prepare turkey patties and use during the week. Add whole oats and a bit of egg and your favorite Italian seasoning to spice up. Dice patty and add to a rice and vegetable bowl or use the patty on a whole wheat sandwich flat or wrap in butter lettuce. Patties are a great grab for an easy meal.
Bake fish: Bake at 350 until fish is cooked through. Allow fish to cook while your grains are cooking and your vegetables are steaming. Fish is best seasoned with lemon and fresh herbs.
Grill fish: While you are grilling your vegetables, grill your fish. Pre portion your fish and keep in small containers. Use grilled fish on top of your favorite salad, use for fish tacos or enjoy fish with quinoa or rice with roasted vegetables.
Pan “fry”: Heat skillet pan and spray with nonstick spray or add a touch of canola oil. Pan cook your fish with onions and bell peppers. Fish will cook this way about 5 minutes each side.
Boiled eggs: Boiled eggs are a great snack, great addition to breakfast or easy to make into egg salad on whole grain bread for lunch. I also like to use boiled eggs on top of a salad with beans and leftover vegetables.
- Keep fresh fruit on hand. Wash and pre portion your fruit.
- Keep unsalted nuts in small containers. Portion nuts into 1/4 cup serving sizes.
- Greek yogurt is a great grab and go snack or an easy breakfast. Toss in your favorite frozen fruit and enjoy with a homemade muffin.
- Whole wheat or organic corn tortillas are great to keep on hand. Add your favorite protein or spread with hummus and add vegetables. My favorite is a whole wheat tortilla with natural nut butter and sliced bananas for a grab and go breakfast.
- Keep canned beans and 90 second brown rice packets on hand for easy meals.
- Try ONE new recipe per week. Look for recipes that have 10 ingredients or less and take less than 30 minutes to prepare.