Taking a day over the weekend to prepare your weekly meals is both healthy for your body and easy on the wallet. Avoid those drive-thru urges and junk food cravings by prepping ahead of time.
Saturdays or Sundays are the ideal prep day, depending on your schedule. Whether you are a beginner, or this has been your weekly tradition for years, you will be sure to find some great tips and recipes in this guide.
Step 1. Get Organized
Your going to want to store everything in your refrigerator and freezer in a nice organized way. We suggest purchasing and storing meal prep items in: plastic tupperware , ziplock bags, mason jars and pre proportioned meal trays.
Step 2. Stock Up
Make sure to get together your staple items, or go-to ingredients, on hand and to replenish them when you run out.
Here are a few items that are part of a well-stocked meal prep pantry:
Grains: Rice, Pasta & Quinoa
Protein (Tofu, Turkey, Chicken, Eggs, Fish)
Key Veggies (Onions, Carrots, Celery, Tomatoes, Broccoli, Garlic, Zucchini)
Dairy (Yogurt, Milk, Cheese, Butter)
Fresh & Frozen Fruit
Step 3. Prep
Time to get the chopping and cooking out of the way. We recommend using a nice sharp knife.
This will be an AMAZING way to save time during the busy week. You will thank us later.
Wash the veggies and fruit, chop and dice it and store in the refrigerator and freezer. (If you plan on using the ingredients in the beginning of the week the fridge is best. Otherwise store in the freezer to preserve freshness).
Bake chicken, dice tofu, brown meat over the stove and store in the fridge.
Cook Rice, Pasta and Quinoa and store in containers in the refrigerator. As a general rule, most pasta and rice will last for 3-5 days.
Here are some top tips for meal prepping:
- Choose vegetables that can do double-duty.Buy foods you can eat raw or cooked so you can still get your veggies in regardless of the amount of time you have to spare. Chopping and washing the vegetables as soon as you get home from the supermarket makes it all so much easier! Let’s say you get carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers, beets, red onions, and leafy greens. If you’re short on time, you can snack on raw carrots with hummus. If you have some time to spare, you can make a carrots, beets, and greens smoothie, a frittata with greens, red onions, mushrooms, and bell peppers, or a big salad.
- Prepare some healthy freezer smoothies for easy and quick morning meals.Smoothies aren’t complicated. But if you’ve slept in, have kids, or simply aren’t a morning person, making them can feel about as doable as a prepping a gourmet four-course meal. DIY freezer smoothie bags literally take less than a minute to prepare.
- Know the shelf-life of each meal.As a general rule of thumb, food can stay in the freezer for up to three months. However, there are exceptions. For example, bacon and sausage have a recommended time of one to two months, while soups and stews can stay there for about two to three months, depending on what’s in them. Check out foodsafety.gov for a complete list of storage times for specific foods.
4. Invest in A Food Processer
Food processors are excellent for making creamy and smooth hummus, for quickly grating vegetables that you can easily add to soups, salads, sauces, and more. We recommend the Hamilton Beach Professional Dicing Food Processor.
5. Season meat three ways using just one pan.
If you’re sticking to lean meats like chicken, chowing down on the same flavors can get tedious after a while. Save time without boring your taste buds by preparing two or three variations of chicken at once, using aluminum foil dividers in your pan. Sriracha, BBQ, honey mustard — you can have it all.
6. Hard-boil eggs in the oven — not in a pot.
An excellent source of protein, eggs should be a staple snack for any health fiend. The problem: You can usually only fit up to five eggs in a pot. To make a delicious dozen in one go, bake your eggs in muffin tins for just 30 minutes.
7. Roast different vegetables with same cooking time.
Roasting vegetables is a great way to bring out their natural sweetness, but waiting 30 to 40 minutes for each pan of nutrient-rich goodness to cook can be time-consuming. To prep a large batch of veggies, try pairing them based on roasting time. Fast-cooking vegetables that can bake in the same pan include asparagus, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes; slow-roasting vegetables include carrots, cauliflower, onions, potatoes and parsnips.
8. Assemble Mason Jar Salads
Using a mason jar will save your veggies from getting mucky before lunchtime. Put your dressing at the bottom of the jar, layer sturdier produce like cucumbers and peppers. Then save any leafy greens or grains (we’re loving quinoa) up top. Put a paper towel square at the top to absorb moisture if you’re storing the salad for multiple days.
9. Freeze blended smoothies in muffin tins.
Never have the time to measure out a million fixings for a morning sip? Or did you make too much smoothie and have a lot left over? Save time by buying the ingredients in bulk, blending your favorite beverage, and then freezing the mixture in muffin tins. Next time you need a shake, stat, toss two or three “smoothie cups” in a blender for a quick and easy breakfast.
10. Label Everything
Grab a sharpie and some labels and write out the ingredient (or meal) being stored, plus the date it was made.
Also if its a meal, feel free to add a post it with any specific reheating instructions, like whether you should thaw the dish first and if it can be microwaved or reheated in an oven.