Are you daunted by preparing healthy meals? There’s no need to be! In fact, there are tons of benefits to preparing food ahead of time, and it’s easier than you think. Here, we offer a list of meal prep hacks that will simplify keeping an organized kitchen stocked with nutritious, delicious food.
Invest in storage solutions. A nice set of glass storage containers can make meal prep more exciting and accessible. Besides, there’s something really satisfying about a neatly organized refrigerator, with meals you can easily see and grab. Pick up some freezer bags, too, to make it more convenient to store your prepped meals in the freezer.
Clean out the fridge. Having a refrigerator that’s a bleak place where leftovers go to die will be counterproductive to your meal prep efforts. Declutter your fridge, throwing away anything that has expired or doesn’t seem edible. Give it a good wipe-down, so that when you’re ready to fill it, it will be an inviting space to put your beautifully prepared food.
Plan ahead. Don’t worry about preparing a week’s worth of food the first day of your meal prep journey. For the first week or two, it can be helpful to simply plan a few meals in advance and choose a day to prep your ingredients. The important thing is to have a plan, and once you get going, you can incorporate different aspects like using the grocery store sales to choose the various ingredients you want to incorporate or planning for a whole week at once.
Shop from a list. Once you know which recipes you plan to use, write down every ingredient you’ll need for every single meal on the list. Shop your pantry first, noting what you already have. Then create a grocery list with everything you will need for the week. Hint: Using the same protein or grain for several meals lets you buy in bulk and prepare it ahead of time, saving you time and money.
Prep promptly. As soon as you get home from the grocery store, before your produce ever sees the inside of the fridge, wash and prepare it so that it’s ready to go when you need it. Wash and dry the lettuce, separating the leaves, and chop vegetables like sweet potatoes, tomatoes, onions, broccoli and peppers. Having those ingredients ready to go will make cooking go much more quickly. It’s also smart to cook your protein and grains on grocery day. Choose two or more types of protein, cooking and cutting them into pieces so it will be convenient to use them in a variety of meals. Cooked proteins will last about four days in the refrigerator, giving you plenty of time to use them. Cooking a big batch of grains like rice or quinoa makes it easy to throw together a meal with your already-prepped protein and produce.
Bag up your smoothies. Smoothies are perfect for breakfast or lunch, and they’re simple to make if you already have the ingredients ready to go. To prep smoothies, wash and cut a variety of seasonal fruit, portion them into freezer bags, and store them in the freezer until you’re ready to toss them in the blender.
Pre-make your breakfast. Mornings can go so much more smoothly if it’s breakfast is ready to grab on the go, and a healthy breakfast will help smooth the rest of your day. A pan of baked oatmeal, prepared the night before to pop in the oven in the morning, can provide you with a hot, healthy breakfast to sustain you until lunch. There are also delicious make-ahead options like overnight oats, made by layering oats, milk, yogurt, and honey and letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight, or chia seed puddings, which work essentially the same way, except the combination is chia seeds, milk, and fruit. Want something simpler? We can’t think of a simpler way to get a protein boost than by having boiled eggs waiting for you in the fridge.
Have some jar salads handy. Mason jar salads are a fun innovation that makes salad a convenient food to carry with you for lunch. When you make these layered salads, you’ll pour the dressing in first so that your vegetables will still be crisp at lunchtime. When you’re ready to eat, shake your salad, then pour it onto a plate or just eat it from the jar with a fork!
Keep things simple. When you plan your meals, consider how you’ll repurpose different ingredients during the week. You might serve a protein and grain bowl one night and use the same protein in a sandwich the next day, or you could use yesterday’s leftover veggies to whip up a delicious breakfast omelet. Choosing simple ingredients that lend themselves to a variety of preparations will streamline your shopping and cooking processes.
Portion your snacks. You are far more likely to make healthy choices when good options are available to grab when you’re starving. Bag snacks like popcorn, trail mix, and nuts individually, storing them in the pantry so they’re within reach when you just need something to munch.
Eating a nutritious diet gives you the energy to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and at the Wellbridge Family of Athletic Clubs, we’re all about helping you do that. That’s why we offer world-class training that keeps up to date with the latest in health and wellness. At our clubs, you’ll be greeted by our friendly team before you’re challenged and motivated by top-notch instructors in our fitness classes. You’ll make new friends because you belong here. Join today