By: Sue Pasqual
The key to healthy eating isn’t always just picking healthier foods to eat; it’s also prepping the foods you’re picking! If you find yourself getting stuck on how to meal prep the staples so they taste amazing, we’ve got some great ideas below.
We’ve all been there — we swear we’ll eat healthier, lose the weight we dreaded putting on, and get to the gym. Then, hanger strikes and our low blood-sugar and hangry mind take over and we find ourselves eating the exact foods we wanted to stay away from! The good news is, it happens to the best of us. The bad news is, it’s on you; you simply failed to prepare. The old adage “people don’t plan to fail; they fail to plan” is always what comes to my mind during times like this!
Going grocery shopping isn’t always the most fun thing to do, especially on the weekends or after finally getting off work! Thankfully, the ease of buying online, in bulk or even grocery delivery services means meal shopping, planning, and prepping can actually be easy! Here are a few meal prep tips:
Stick with the Staples:
Many of us tend to eat the same foods each day or cycle through similar dishes on a weekly basis depending on how crazy that week gets. So, keeping a running list of the foods you need to re-purchase keeps shopping trips to a minimum. Take some time to figure out which staples you like and which are versatile enough to keep from being boring so you can stock up!
Spending a little bit of time searching for the recipes you’d like to make each week allows you to add the ingredients to your weekly shopping list, also helping you cut down on mid-week trips. I also don’t mind eating leftovers, so pre-planning recipes give me the chance to double the ingredients so I am able to cut down on weekly meal prep even more!
Meal Prep & the Staples:
Chicken Meal Prep
Chicken is one of those super-versatile, healthy staples that most people have on their eating list. Packed with protein and not a lot of fat, it is a healthy go-to when you’re hungry! It’s also great because it can take on and complement the flavors in so many kinds of dishes!
I personally always buy organic chicken but, whether I buy them individually-packaged or separate them myself, there’s always chicken around. When buying in bulk, I often cook a large batch right away, then individually package the rest and place it in the freezer for a later date. That way, I know exactly the serving size I need and it’s ready to go!
Another option for chicken meal prep is to marinade it for a day or so, to really give it that flavorful punch. Just be sure to opt for marinades you make at home or keep a really close eye on those nutrition labels. Sodium, unhealthy fats, and sugars can really get packed into a small serving if you aren’t careful.
Certainly, grilling is a fan favorite when it comes to chicken but in the dead of winter, many people aren’t bundling up to wait for their food to cook outside! For those chillier times, finding a delicious baked chicken recipe is a great alternative.
When in doubt, the air fryer is here for the rescue! Of course, frying foods is usually the least healthy of meal prep options – but, a new wave trend is the air fryer. They cook the food quickly and you have the option to make so many delicious recipes! Many air fryers these days actually come with many recipes to try, but there’s nothing like good ol’ Pinterest when you need a few more ideas.
Veggie Meal Prep
Pairing your protein with healthy sides is another important step during your meal prep. Are you going to make a starch, grain, and/or vegetable with it? If you are living a starch or grain free lifestyle, veggies will be your new best friend!
When it comes to veggie prep, fresh and organic vegetables are always the tastiest to me but they are also the items that spoil the fastest if they’re not used in time. I do a few things to help make sure that doesn’t happen:
- If I am buying fresh and find them sitting in the refrigerator, I break out my crockpot and make a healthy vegetable soup. This helps keep them a few days longer and makes a healthy, frozen, grab-and-go meal for a later date!
- Opt for frozen. The ingredients for prepping those veggies should just be the vegetable + bag, and viola! You will never have to worry about waste. Defrosting these on a stovetop or microwave are easy ways to make your veggie food prep and cooking a breeze!
See? Meal prep doesn’t have to cause you stress! If you plan ahead to what you’ll be cooking and eating weekly, I have no doubt you will succeed…and maybe even like being in the kitchen!