Six Meal Prep Tips
Even if nutrition is a priority, sometimes we just don’t want (or can’t!) spend lots of time in the kitchen. Hopefully these tips will help inspire you to set yourself up for success. Your future self will thank you!
1. Utilize your crockpot
If you’re not currently utilizing your crockpot or instant-pot then dust it off, because it is sure to be your new best friend when it comes to meal prepping! At the beginning of the week, try prepping a large batch of something to get you set up for success. This could be a meal, such as chili or soup, or you could try prepping a protein to have on hand for lunches or dinners.
One easy example is shredded chicken. Simply put a few chicken breasts or thighs into your slow cooker, add some seasoning (for example a jar of salsa, or lemon juice+zest and Italian herbs), and cook on low for 8 hours until the chicken shreds. You can also do this in the Instant Pot too!
2. Pre-cut veggies
Whether for snacks or meals, washing and chopping veggies ahead of time is a huge time saver.
If you’re looking for even more convenience, try purchasing pre-chopped veggies at the grocery store. A key one for lunches in our houses is baby carrots!
Or use frozen veggies, these can be steamed or sauteed just like fresh veggies.
3. Leftovers for lunch
This makes packing lunch a breeze! Try making an extra serving of dinner to repurpose as lunch for the next day. You could eat the meal as is, or throw leftover protein and veggies on a bed of greens to make it into a salad.
Here are a few examples: double the chili recipe; bake one extra chicken breast; roast all the brussels sprouts; bake an extra potato.
4. Prep your grains ahead of time
At the beginning of the week, try preparing a large batch of your preferred grain to have it on hand for lunches or to use in dinner. Try something new, whether brown rice, quinoa, or farro. Cooking your grain in low sodium chicken or vegetable broth can help add a little more flavor!
For $20 you can purchase a rice cooker that makes cooking grains easy as clicking a switch! You can cook brown and white rice, quinoa, farro, and many more!
5. Cook for more than one meal
Try making an extra large batch of something and eat it for two dinners- or more if you don’t get sick of it! This way you can cook once, and then eat two or three times from the same meal.
Even if you’re not interested in eating the same meal two nights in a row, try doubling the recipe and freezing half. That way you have a quick option to thaw on a busy night sometime in the future.
6. Grab and go snacks
Keep minimum prep snacks on hand for when you need something quick. Nuts, fruit, cheese sticks, yogurt, or bars (look for ones with minimal ingredients, such as a Larabar or RX bar) can help hold you over when you are on the go.
Author: Becca Sprague, MS, RD, LD