There is no excuse for not having the time to eat or cook when you can get organized quickly. My meal prep is usually a combination of fully prepared meals and prepped portions of ingredients. This is so I can make something fresh in the middle of the week with no preparation. I am now a meal prep specialist and know how to get organized in the kitchen. Here are some of my tips:
For breakfast, I usually make ahead two or three different options and alternate them throughout the week. Overnight oats and chia pudding topped with fresh fruit take no time to mix together, and actually get better the longer you let them sit. The fruit topping changes depending on what’s in season, providing plenty of variety. You can also use a flavoured yogurt or even coconut milk to change it up even more. My favourite breakfast to make is a tray of morning muffins with zucchini and egg. They’re rich in protein and low in starch. And while zucchini is my favourite, carrot and banana are tasty substitutes if you want a different flavour.
Smoothies are a great morning snack, and can by partially prepped ahead of time. I will prep my smoothies for a few weeks in about 15 minutes by portioning out all of my fruits, veggies, seeds, nut butters and coconut oil in freezer bags. In the morning before heading out the door, I just blend a bag with coconut water or almond milk and I have a snack on-the-go.
Lunch is usually a variety of salad bowls or grain bowls. They are fully prepared and assembled ahead of time, with the dressing kept on the side. I alternate protein throughout the week between a fish like wild salmon, lean cuts of chicken, and legumes such as chickpeas or lentils. I pick seasonal vegetables and always make my own salad dressings from scratch.
For dinners I like to do a combination of make-ahead dishes and meals that can be cooked mid-week. For my make-ahead meals I cook in large batches and freeze. They can be reheated in smaller portions as needed. Some of my favourites are lean ground turkey balls with an herb-infused marinara sauce, and lemongrass coconut curry with eggplant and a protein.
For a fresh-cooked meal on a budget, a crockpot is your best friend. All of the ingredients can be prepped on Sunday and portioned into freezer bags. In the morning, take out a bag for dinner that night and throw it in the crock pot. By the time you get home there will be a hearty meal that has been slow cooked all day. You can freeze any leftovers without losing the nutritional value. Slow cooking tenderizes cheaper cuts of meat helping to stretch your dollar. And it makes your home smell incredible! You get a fresh cooked meal without losing a day in the kitchen.
I love making a beef stew with red wine, bay leaf, and all of my favourite vegetables. Stewing beef is so affordable but the finished dish looks like you slaved over the stove all day. Spicy chicken tinga is another favourite, featuring shredded chicken and a spicy tomato sauce. Meal prep is also great to do in numbers. Finally, If you are looking for ways to spend time with friends or family why not get healthy together by cutting down your time? It is nice to go to the market with a friend or loved one and cook together. Knowing that what you are going to eat is going to bring you closer to your healthiest, happiest self.
I always am so happy after I finish my meal prep for the week. There is a feeling of accomplishment knowing that I have so much free time. I also have peace of mind knowing that I am all set up to be eating as well as possible!
Looking for more meal prep inspiration? Check out this super simple baked oatmeal here.