One of the best ways to save time and keep you on track with healthy eating is being prepared. This is why meal prep can be crucial to your health journey. Having meals and/or snacks prepped (or at least having what you need on hand) can prevent ordering out and overeating.
Here are some of our favorite meal prep hacks:
- Stock your kitchen with your favorite staples so you can whip up quick meals and snacks. Example: eggs, chicken, rice, canned beans, canned tuna, frozen veggies, etc.
- Meal combinations are key. Make sure you always consume a carb + fat + protein to keep you full and prevent unnecessary snacking.Here is your simple meal combination guide:
- Breakfast: ¾ cup cooked oatmeal (carb), 1 TBSP peanut butter (protein and fat), 1 small banana (carb)
- Lunch: 1 whole wheat wrap (carb), 4 oz chicken (protein), 1 cup baby carrots, 2 TBSP hummus (fat)
- Dinner: 1 small sweet potato (carb), 1 cup cooked greens, 6 oz fish (protein and fat)
- Plan Ahead. Take 30 minutes of your time to plan out what meals/snacks you want to eat for the week to make grocery shopping more efficient. Have you ever gone grocery shopping hungry and were surprised to see what food items you came home with? Let’s prevent this! Find inspiration from Instagram, food blogs, Pinterest, etc. Decide on the type of cuisine or recipe you’re in the mood for (ex: tacos, Italian, Asian, one pot meals, etc.).
- Know your problem areas. You don’t have to prep EVERY meal. Prep the meals that are your biggest challenge. Never feel like cooking after work? Prep dinner! Always running late in the morning? Prep breakfast!
- Cook in bulk. Prep your protein, veggie, or grain that will last you several days. Examples:
- Roast or grill a large pan of veggies
- Pre-cook protein sources on the weekend: shredded chicken in the crockpot/instant pot, bake extra chicken/salmon/pork, grill turkey burgers/shrimp/filet mignon or airfry tofu/hard boil eggs to have for a few days.
- Make a big batch of quinoa/brown rice/faro/amanranth
- Utilize convenience. Buy pre-chopped fruits and veggies OR wash/chop veggies and fruits ahead of time to make cooking quicker, and for easy grab snacks. Try one pot meals and sheet pan meals for a quicker cooking process.
- Great creative with leftovers. Make a large batch of pulled chicken with your favorite seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, etc. Once you have your bulk chicken seasoning, add different flavored to make multiple meals. Examples:
- Buffalo chicken wrap: pulled chicken, hot sauce, blue cheese, low fat ranch dressing, romaine lettuce, whole wheat wrap
- BBQ chicken sandwich: pulled chicken, low sugar BBQ chicken, vinegar-based coleslaw on whole wheat bun
- Tacos: pulled chicken, pico de gallo, low fat cheese, guacamole on small tortilla
- Salad: pulled chicken, mixed greens, grapes, craisins, feta cheese, light vinaigrette dressing
- Use your freezer. Portion leftovers in individual or family sized portions. Have your freezer full of frozen veggies, fruits, lean proteins, and leftovers of soups and chilis. Remember to label and date the food was frozen.
Here’s an easy meal prep breakdown:
- Prep in advance options: egg white bites, egg casserole, overnight oats, chia pudding, zucchini muffins, oatmeal muffins
- Quick, same day options: Kodiak pancakes/waffles, high fiber/protein cereal (Kashi, Raisin Bran, etc), peanut butter toast, avocado toast with egg, oatmeal, veggie omelette, fruit parfait
Lunch: use meal prepped PROTEIN then pair with your favorite kitchen staples
- Prepped protein options: chicken, turkey, fish, pork, lean beef, beans, lentil, edamame, nut butter
- Lunch staples: Pre-made salad kits, whole wheat wrap/bread, lavash, low sodium soup, grain bowls
Dinner: break up the week into sections:
- Monday- Wednesday: meal prep on Sunday and get creative with leftovers
- Thursday-Friday: cook a new meal or utilize freezer
- Saturday-Sunday: dine out, order out, grocery shop and prep again