Can’t find the time or structure for meal prepping? Just remember what you’re trying to accomplish, and simply do what you need to do.
How does it make you feel to see pictures on social media of tables artfully filled with organized rows of portioned out food containers meant to make your life easier and healthier for the week?
To all of you who can take a few hours out of your Sunday to meal plan, prep, and cook for an entire week ahead:
Bless your organized heart.
For those of you where organization is not your strongest suit, don’t fret. You can still meal prep in your own way that works for your life.
Let’s think about what exactly meal planning/prepping is for a second. Fundamentally, it’s just about figuring out meal preparation strategies to save yourself time and money, which will hopefully help you eat healthier. And it doesn’t necessarily mean spending your entire Sunday in the kitchen!
Try out these 6 tips to get you in the groove:
1. TAKE INVENTORY OF WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE ON HAND
Before you even think about looking at a recipe, see what you already have. You may discover that you have more ingredients than you thought! Let the ingredients you already have on hand dictate what you make.
Have some ground turkey on hand? Make some turkey meatballs! Have a stash of eggs and veggies? Make a frittata. You get the idea.
2. BRAINSTORM MEAL IDEAS WITH VERSATILE INGREDIENTS
Work around versatile ingredients that you can work a whole meal around. Let’s take chicken as an example. What can you make with a chicken breast?
3. KEEP THE KITCHEN STOCKED WITH KEY FLAVOR INGREDIENTS
By keeping your pantry stocked with a variety of flavoring agents, making a tasty meal is super easy and you’ll be less likely to go out to eat and spend. Some key ingredients to keep stock include:
- Canned tomatoes
- Dried herbs and spices
- Garlic powder
- Vinegars and olive oil
- Hot sauce
- Maple syrup
- Full flavored cheeses like parmesan or romano
4. COOK MULTIPLE SERVINGS OF GRAINS, POTATOES, BEANS, AND VEGGIES
If you happen to be cooking rice or quinoa one night, make enough for multiple days. Do you know how nice it is to open the fridge and have it already prepared?? It’s wonderful.
Do this with beans, potatoes and veggies too! If you’re roasting carrots and potatoes one night, roast some extra. Microwave a few extra sweet potatoes. It doesn’t really take any extra time and makes your life easier during the week. Of course, please don’t forget to properly cool your food before storing in the fridge so you don’t give yourself foodborne illness! Check out this link to keep you and your family safe.
5. USE YOUR FREEZER
A sigh of relief often comes when you recall freeze a double batch of food you made the previous week. With the exception of the heating-up part, dinner is easy peasy! Soups, stews and casserole type dishes like chili and lasagna freeze best.
Remember, the freezer isn’t just for main dishes! Be sure to freeze your next batch of energy bites for an easy snack. What about those extra grains and beans that you cooked? Freeze ’em! Just don’t forget to properly cool everything before freezing. Find some meat on sale at the supermarket? Buy extra and keep it in the freezer.
6. KEEL MULTI-PURPOSE SAUCES ON HAND
You can basically have the same meal multiple times, but make it taste totally different with the sauce. Keep a variety of store-bought jar sauces on hand such as marinara, pesto, salsas, and other ethnically-inspired sauces. Saute a bunch of veggies and protein and store in containers. Saute the same mix with a different sauce for a completely different taste a few times during the week, and you’ve got yourself a few different weeknight meals!
Adapted from the original article.
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Lindsey Pine, MS, RDN, CSSD, CLT is a Los Angeles-based dietitian, specializing in food sensitivities and culinary creations. Whether she’s working with students at University of Southern California or in her private practice, Lindsey helps others find the healthy foods that they love so help sustain their long-term success. To find your tastiest balance in life, connect with Lindsey at Tasty Balance Nutrition.