Healthy cooking often means learning to be resourceful with what you have in the kitchen. Get to know a few new muffin tin hacks to make meal prepping easier!
We traditionally know the muffin tin as a vehicle to bake birthday cupcakes and morning glory muffins, but this common kitchen appliance’s limitless versatility opens the door to a myriad of healthy opportunities.
Here are a few simple muffin tin kitchen hacks worth incorporating into your regular meal prepping routine that are guaranteed to make healthy eating easy-breezy!
1. Whole Grains
We all know that whole grains boast fiber, antioxidants, and an array of vitamins and minerals that their refined counterparts lack. However, with their hearty, fibrous bran still intact, these healthy whole grains tend to require a much longer cooking time. The solution? A marriage between batch cooking + muffin tin freezing!
At the beginning of the week, prepare a large batch of whole grains. Allow to cool, and then spoon individual servings into the muffin tin. Place in the freezer for 1-2 hours, then use a butter knife to pop out each serving. Store them in a freezer bag, and now you have pre-cooked, portion-controlled servings of cooked whole grains ready to be added to soups, chilies, stir-fries, and bowls all week long. To serve, simply thaw in the microwave or on the stove top with a few Tbs of water and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Voila! Whole grains in a flash!
Eggs can be a quick and easy way to add a boost of protein to any dish, but sometimes even cracking an egg on the stovetop can be too time consuming during chaotic mornings. The solution? Make a week’s worth of breakfasts in one night, such as Mini Frittatas, Hard-baked eggs, or Oven-poached eggs.
3. Frozen Entrees
Love veggies burgers or mini pizza bagel bites? Most of the ready-to-heat frozen entrees found in your grocery store are loaded with excess salt, sugar and highly processed oils, as well as a plethora of preservatives and artificial ingredients. The solution? Make your own version of your favorite frozen items, and use a muffin tin to freeze individual servings to keep on hand for when you’re in a pinch!
4. Soups, Sauces, and Sauté Starters
Get into the habit of always making a double batch of soup to freeze for later. Simply ladle spoonfuls into the bottom of a muffin tin, freeze, then use a butter knife to pop out and transfer to a freezer bag. To reheat, thaw on the stovetop or zap in the microwave and you have yourself a warm bowl of homemade soup in a flash.
Sauces and Sauté Starters
Sauces and sauté starters are what transform a plain batch of veggies, protein, and grains into unique and flavorful meals every night of the week. Sauté an absurd amount of garlic and shallots with olive oil, lemon zest and juice, crushed red pepper, and some chopped herbs. Then add broth and/or white wine, and simmer until you have a strong, flavorful pan sauce. Pour the sauce into muffin tins, freeze, then transfer them to a freezer bag. The next time you need a kick of flavor, simply drop a sauté starter in the pan and boom, the work is done.
The same concept applies to marinara sauce, pesto, puttanesca sauce, coconut Thai curry sauce, peanut sauce, the options are endless. Have a variety of these “cubes-of-flavor” stocked and ready in your freezer will instantaneously transport your dish to a new cuisine from around the globe.
5. Preserving Herbs
Herbs bring a bright and fresh flavor that can magically elevate any dish, but sometimes it’s hard to go through them before they start to wilt. The solution: Preserve your herbs! Drop some fresh herbs in the bottom of the muffin tin, pour a few Tbs of olive oil, freeze, then transfer to a freezer bag for later.
6. Smoothie Kits
Smoothies are a quick and easy solution to getting your dose of fruits and veggies first thing in the morning or when you’re on-the-go, but gathering all of your smoothie ingredients can be a time consuming hassle.
The Solution: Frozen Smoothie Kits.
Mix fruit, veggies, ginger, greens, avocado or nuts butters, chia, hemp or flax seeds together in a bowl and spoon into the muffin tin. Freeze, then use a butter knife to pop out and transfer to a freezer bag. When morning comes, drop a few smoothie cubes into a blender with some almond milk or water for a quicker, more convenient smoothie.
For more kitchen hacks and tips, read the full article.
Lindsey Kane, MS, RD, LDN is a San Francisco-based Registered Dietitian helping others live a stress-free, balanced, and thriving life. By getting to know her clients inside and out, Lindsey identifies the opportunities within their everyday lifestyle to integrate subtle changes that create lasting, impactful results. Learn more at Bite For Change!