Preparing your meals ahead of time can be a great way to save time during the week. After all, if you’ve got all the meals prepared, the most you’ll have to do is reheat them before sitting down to eat. If you’re planning on organizing yourself ahead of time, here are some quick and easy meal prep ideas to try:
Make it Veggie-Heavy
The #1 trick to meal prep is to realize that you’re probably going to be hungrier then than you are now. If you serve portions that are too small, you’ll end up snacking or cheating on your diet. Instead, go overboard on the servings of veggies you include with each meal. Add lots of cruciferous veggies, leafy greens, and colorful veggies to each meal. The more fiber you eat via the veggies, the less likely you’ll be to end up hungry.
You know that pasta isn’t the healthiest choice, but it’s so quick and easy that you end up serving it five meals a week. But why not try something new and make your own zucchini noodles (zoodles)? Or try a rice-based noodle, mushroom-based noodle, or some other type of healthy pasta alternative? The same goes for rice (cauliflower rice), bread (Ezekiel bread), and all flour-based products. A bit of creativity with your meal prep can go a long way toward making your meals as nutritious as they are delicious.
Cook What Lasts
You want to cook meals that will last a long time, which means they’ll survive a few days of sitting in the fridge, being frozen and defrosted, and reheated before eating. You may want to avoid cooking veggies like cabbage, broccoli, or asparagus until you’re ready to eat them, or cook them very lightly to avoid turning them soggy. Consider which of your meals are better stored in the fridge and which can last in the freezer.
Find Simple Ingredients
You don’t have to cook whole casseroles or veggie lasagnas for the week, but you can work with simple ingredients like cheese, eggs, grilled chicken, and so on. For example, prepare five days’ worth of salad bowls, with a sprinkling of cheese or a boiled egg for the protein. Grill up a few chicken breasts and keep them handy for salads, sandwiches, or even just serving them with your veggies. Simpler ingredients can make prep time easier, and will often be more versatile when mixing and matching.
Include Snacks and a Dessert
We’ve all got a sweet tooth that will need to be indulged every now and again. If you always try to fight the urge, you’ll ultimately end up breaking your diet to eat something you probably shouldn’t. So don’t fight it too hard! Instead, include sweet snacks and desserts in your meal prep, but just make them healthy. Include fruit salad, yoghurt with homemade granola, berry parfait, or any other healthy desserts and snacks you can dream up. Think about what you like, and find a way to make it healthy!
Prepare a Buffet
This is a clever way to be ready for anything! Instead of preparing five days’ worth of pre-planned meals, just chop a host of ingredients and store them in containers ready for you to eat. You can simply pull the ingredients out of the fridge according to your desired meal plan for the day, and throw it all together at the last minute to make your soup, salad, stew, one-pot meal, or sandwich. Work with versatile ingredients like onions, bell peppers, carrots, grilled meat, and legumes, and you’ll find it’s much easier to whip up a healthy meal from your buffet-style ingredients.