Meal Prep Tips & Tricks
Become a Meal Prepping Pro
October is full of tricks and treats, but our tricks are a lot less spooky. Meal prepping is sometimes seen as a daunting task that can take hours on end. Is it really worth it to prepare meals ahead of time? Let's break it down.
Why should you meal prep?
Consider this: When your day is busy, your inbox is full, and your energy is drained, is finding a healthy meal at the top of your priority list? Probably not. Preparing meals ahead of time can take the guesswork out of eating and makes healthy eating easier, especially for those long, busy days. Making your own food is the best way to know exactly what you're eating and is a great method to decrease food spending.
Our Top 10 Tips & Tricks
1. Embrace your slow cooker for multiple meals. Slow cookers are a great way to make larger quantities of food with less work involved. You can make a large batch of shredded chicken, hearty soups, or vegetarian chili. Let your slow cooker do the work so you can spend less time preparing and more time relaxing or enjoying your favorite activities.
2. Try one sheet meals to cut back on time and effort. A sheet pan can be used to roast the same protein with different spices, a variety of vegetables, or a mixture of protein and vegetables at the same time. This makes clean up a piece of cake and helps you cook several meals at once.
3. Mix it up with different spices. Try using one lean protein such as chicken and preparing it with different flavors. For example, half of your chicken can be prepared with paprika, chili powder, and cumin, while the other half can be prepared with Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Both types of chicken can be served over brown rice with vegetables, but having multiple flavor profiles will help you feel more satisfied and your meals seem less redundant.
4. Try the 2-3 rule each week. The 2-3 rule means that for the same meal (i.e. lunch) you'll switch what you're eating every other day. You will eat one prepared dish on 2 days per week, and a different prepared dish on the other 3 days that week. You can start by simply changing the lean protein, such as doing fish for two meals and chicken for the other three.
5. Make a list and stick to it. This may seem like a no brainer, but it's easy to stray from your shopping list, especially if you're shopping while you're hungry. Shopping in bulk or online from retailers like Thrive Market can further decrease spending and free up time that is usually spent shopping.
6. Try raw foods that don't require any cooking time. Snacking on sliced cucumber and carrots with hummus is a great snack option and requires minimal prep time. Preparing mason jar salads filled with different vegetables can take minutes to prepare and provide healthy meals for multiple days.
7. Aim for variety when it comes to nourishment in snacks and meals. Try making a simple trail mix with almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, and dark chocolate. This incorporates healthy fats, lean protein, and extra into one snack and the different flavors complement each other.
8. Invest in the right containers to help organize your meals and snacks. Having the right containers can make it easier for you to portion out your meals and snacks and keep track of how many meals you've made for the week ahead. Opting for glass containers is an eco-friendly option and can be heated up in an oven or microwave. (We recommend toaster or conventional ovens for reheating when possible).
9. Buy foods that are in season and go to your local farmers market. As we mentioned in our last blog post, buying foods that are local and in season can increase nutritional value and decrease cost. We also suggest planning your meals based on what you find at the farmers market. Finding a new produce item can provide inspiration for a meal you've never tried before.
10. Give yourself a break and try not to conquer the kitchen in one day. It's okay if you only have enough time to prepare a few snacks for the coming week. Doing as much as you can and choosing meals that take less time to prepare will prove to be beneficial in the long run. Think of this as an investment in yourself and your health. You are worth it.
Let us know if you meal prep by posting a photo on Instagram and tagging @moreholisticnutrition!