When asked for my top healthy- living tip, my answer is almost always “Food prep!” I’m a firm believer that investing a little bit of time on the weekend or a day off can go a long way toward helping you eat healthy the rest of the week. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you spend even one hour in the kitchen prepping food.
There are a couple different ways you can approach food prep, and it may take you a few weeks to figure out what works best for you. Some people like to meal-plan. If you fall into this category, plan your meals like normal and then take it a step further. Look through all the recipes you intend to cook during the upcoming week and make a list of things that can be done ahead of time. If you are making something that uses rice, cook a big batch ahead of time. Making a stir-fry? Chop your veggies and store them in a Tupperware container so that all you have to do later is heat the pan and add the veggies. If you’re planning to make a casserole early in the week, you can often pre-assemble it and then move it straight from the fridge to the oven on the appropriate day.
If you aren’t fond of meal-planning and are better at throwing together healthy food on the fly, prep the basics to help make your life easier. This is my personal preference. Every Sunday, I spend an hour or two in the kitchen making some variations of the following:
Quinoa breakfast bars I portion them into Ziploc bags and store them in the fridge so my husband can just grab one every morning on his way out the door.
Hard-boiled eggs These make great grab-and-go snacks on busy days.
Pre-workout snacks I usually make a batch of my sweet potato banana bites or energy balls so I can grab a few before I head out the door for my CrossFit workout.
Vegetables I chop, wash and spin-dry my lettuce, store it in a Ziploc bag with a paper towel and remove all the air from the bag. This makes it super easy to just grab a few handfuls every night to make salads. I also chop up carrots, broccoli and peppers to snack on with hummus while I’m making dinner.
Meat I precook a lot of my meat, especially chicken, pork tenderloin, pulled pork and ground meat. Baked or grilled chicken breasts can be sliced and used in wraps and on salads; ground meat can be used for tacos, etc.
Grain I cook up a batch of quinoa, wheat berries, brown rice, etc. to use when cooking meals like burrito bowls and stir-fries throughout the week.
This isn’t an all-inclusive list, and it varies from week to week. Some weeks I’ll make a batch of beans or a pot of soup or something in the Crock-Pot. The idea is to prep the components so that all you have to do is throw them together for a quick, healthy meal.
If you’re new to food prep, don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do too much! Pick a few things that you think will be helpful for the week and see how long it takes you to get them done. With practice, you can slowly prep more and more.
A couple tips to remember Most leftovers are good in the fridge for three to four days, so I try not to prep more on Sunday than we can finish eating by Thursday. Multitasking is the key. You can have chicken cooking in the oven, rice cooking on the stove and be peeling carrots all at the same time.