8 Time Saving Meal Prep Tips For Beginners
We all want to eat healthy fresh meals, but fitting in the time to prepare them can be exhausting and labor intensive! Let’s face it- if you leave food choices to chance, chances are your choices will stink! Meal prepping is becoming the new fast food because if done properly it is quick, cheap, and easy. These 8 meal prep ideas will save you time, money and provide you with delicious healthy food that’s ready to go whenever you open the fridge. If you have healthy snacks and meals ready to go, that’s what you will eat. Make eating healthy and delicious recipes a breeze; learn to prep like a boss with these easy tips and use all that extra time you will have to hit a Yoga class, get your nails done or meet a friend for lunch.
1) Wash and prep fruit right away
If you don’t make it easy, you won’t pick that fresh fruit over a candy bar, so make good choices a no-brainer. Wash and prep your fruit as soon as you get it home and put it in air tight containers the way you would eat it or as a fruit salad that’s portable and ready to go for the rest of the week. If buying fruits and veggies in bulk doesn’t work for you, buy frozen or pre-cut portions. Pre-cut is typically more expensive YES, but if you eat them it might be worth it! Frozen is a great option vs. fresh because it’s usually less expensive, it won’t spoil, and frozen fruits and veggies are usually picked at the peak of freshness and are therefore brimming with vitamins. If anything starts to look like it’s turning too ripe, throw it in a baggie and freeze it for smoothies!!
2) Roast 3-4 Veggies at the same time
What’s the old saying, kill 2 birds with 1 stone? Heck, let’s aim for 3 or 4! Roast several vegetables all at the same time. For example, each week roast sweet potatoes and beets in your oven at 375 degrees for 40-60 minutes on a large cookie sheet or until they can easily be pierced with a fork. Throw in a 3rd veggie like brussels sprouts, carrots, green beens, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower or zucchini for the last 30 minutes of cooking time. You will have three side dishes or salad ingredients for the week done!
3) Grill or bake 3 flavors of meat all at once
Season pork, chicken, steak or fish with 3 different flavors such as Cajun, Asian or BBQ seasoning and separate with aluminum foil when baking. Add to salads or have ready to go for dinner on busy nights. I do this almost every Sunday. Sometimes I will crock pot a pork loin while I grill several chicken breasts all seasoned differently. Cooking meat ahead of time in bulk like this is so easy and it’s so convenient to have lean meat for burritos, wraps, sandwiches and salads ready to go.
4) Cook your grains ahead of time and freeze in individual bags
Nobody wants to stand over the stove for 30 minutes at the end of a long day. Make the grain of your choice ahead of time and freeze for later in portion-controlled freezer bags. This works well for wild rice, brown/white rice, quinoa, farro and barley.
How To Prep Grains:
- Cook grain of choice and cool. Place desired amount (I do 2 cup portions) in a sealable plastic bag and make sure the grain is in a flat layer, label and place in freezer.
- No need to thaw the grains, simple re-heat on the stove or in the microwave for a few minutes until fully heated. You now have are perfect healthy side dish or ingredient for soups, salads and casseroles. You can always cheat a bit too and buy them pre-packaged if you prefer, but it is a lot more expensive. Either way, it’s a HUGE time saver and you’ll get a delicious result.
5) Portion out your favorite healthy snacks each week
Scoop out serving size portions of nuts, dried fruit, protein balls or whatever your favorite snacks are into small baggies or air tight containers. Make sure to stock your office, car and home with these tasty treats. You don’t want to get caught post-workout or on your way to your activities starving. You especially don’t want to hit the grocery store with a growling tummy. This little bit of prep work will get you set for the week and help you avoid a hangry decision to hit the drive-thru out of desperation.
6) Make salads in a jar
Pick you favorite salad ingredients and set up a quick assembly line. We like to stack bottom to top: dressing, sliced veggies, protein of choice, nuts or seeds, cheese and lettuce on top. You can always store your dressing separately if you don’t plan on eating it within the next day, and mason jars work perfectly to keep these salads fresh and delicious. Check out this mason jar salad tutorial for inspiration!
7) Freeze a few smoothies
Don’t throw away fruits and veggies that are on the verge of going bad. Instead store in ziplock bags and freeze to use later in healthy smoothie recipes! Similarly, make a few smoothies ahead of time and store in plastic travel cups in the freezer for a really easy grab-n-go breakfast in the morning. Kids especially love smoothies for breakfast and smoothies are an easy way to sneak in those extra fruits and veggies they might not typically eat. Take your smoothie out when you wake and let it thaw around an hour and it should be perfect for your commute, drive to school or to sip at your desk when you get to work.
8) Hard boiled eggs
Hard boiled eggs are one of my favorite go-to healthy snacks! A hard boiled egg has only 77 calories and is filled with 9 essential amino acids along with 6 grams of protein. This portable protein is one of the most nutritious snacks on-the-go you can choose. I hard boil a dozen eggs a week and have them on hand for a quick snack, sandwiches and salads. Try my secret for easy to peel hard boiled eggs and never deal with a messy shell again!
Eating a healthy diet doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Hopefully these easy meal prep hacks will you prep smarter not harder. Planning your weekly meals and prepping a few things ahead of time will save you tons of time and energy. Here is to healthy delicious meals without a lot of fuss-cheers!