I’ve been following Lindsay (aka The Lean Green Bean) for a few years now, and she never fails to inspire. Lately I’ve been especially smitten with her weekly food prep posts. I begged Lindsay to teach us how to become food prep masters, and she agreed (yay!). I can’t wait to get started!
As a dietitian, I’m often asked for advice about how to live a healthier lifestyle. Many times the questions come from busy people who have good intentions, but just can’t seem to find enough hours in the day to sleep enough, work hard, exercise AND eat well. My number one suggestion for people who are having trouble staying on track during the week is food prep.
Food prep is probably the most under-rated, under-utilized healthy living tool. Making it a habit to spend even just one hour on the weekend to prep food can make a huge difference in your food choices during the upcoming week.
Here’s an example of what I prepped last weekend:
- Cheese Stuffed Chicken Meatballs: All I have to do is add some sauce and noodles for dinner one night. (Similar to this recipe)
- Baked Chicken: To use in sandwiches and on salads.
- Roasted Pork Tenderloin: Could be cut up and used in a stir-fry or eaten as is.
- Quinoa Breakfast Bars: I pre-portion them so that my husband has a grab & go breakfast in the morning (Recipe here)
- Baked Potatoes: Just remove from the foil and microwave when ready to eat.
- Veggies for snacking: Perfect for munching on while getting dinner ready, with a little hummus!
- Lettuce for salads: Cut, wash, spin dry and store in a ziploc bag with a paper towel. Press the air out of the bag before storing.
- Hardboiled Eggs: Add one to your lunch or grab one for a quick snack. (Try this trick)
- Guacamole: Perfect addition to wraps or try using as a dressing for your salad!
If the thought of prepping food ahead of time overwhelms you, start small. You can ease into food prep by simply washing and chopping some of your fruits and veggies for the week, making some trail mix and boiling a few eggs to snack on. As it becomes more of a habit, try throwing some chicken or steak in the oven or onto the grill to eat through out the week, cooking up a batch of brown rice or quinoa and making a big pot of soup.
Remember that you don’t have to prep entire meals. Look at your meal plan and prep some of the common denominators in various meals. Do several of the recipes you’re making this week include beans or veggies? Why not cook up a big batch of beans ahead of time and spend a few minutes peeling and chopping vegetables?
When you have cooked beans, quinoa and chicken in the fridge, along with some pre-washed lettuce and other veggies, it suddenly becomes very easy to throw together some burrito bowls or make a stirfry! You could have dinner on the table in under 10 minutes with very little effort. That being said, if you have something on your mealplan that can be made ahead of time, like a casserole, it’s never a bad idea to assemble it if you have time. Then, all you have to do is pop it in the oven when you get home!
Things like soups and casseroles are great to make ahead of time and pack for lunch during the week!
If you’re ready to start food prepping but are’t sure how, here are my top 5 tips for food prepping:
- Don’t cook more than your family can eat in 3-4 days.
- Prep meal components, not full meals. Try to prep foods that can be used in several different meals.
- Cook now. Season later. Cook things plain and add spices when assembling your meals.
- Multi-task. While things are baking in the oven, you can be chopping veggies and cooking something on the stovetop.
- Cook extra when you’re not busy and fill up your freezer for those busy weeks when you can’t prep as much as you’d like to.
Lindsay is a Registered Dietitian from Columbus, Ohio who specializes in Nutrition Communications. She is also the author of the healthy living blog The Lean Green Bean where she shares healthy recipes, nutrition tips, workouts and more. You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest for more healthy living inspiration!
Do you do any kind of weekly meal prep? Why or why not?