While we hate to hit you with a cliché, the saying “fail to plan, plan to fail” holds some weight when it comes to our health and nutrition. How many times have you been hit with 5pm, post-workday hanger or picked up a pack of hungry kiddos after their extracurriculars only to realize you haven’t planned, prepped, or even thought about a dinner time game plan. At this point you have no choice but to break one of the cardinal rules of being a self-sufficient grownup (never grocery shop while hungry as you’re bound to end up with a cart full of tasty, nutrient-void treats that may curb your appetite, but won’t do much in the way of your nutrition goals), or worse–you find yourself scooting through the nearest drive-thru purely for the sake of convenience.
We get it–whether you’re a busy parent, professional, or just busy, adulting is hard and more often than not, hectic! However, if you’ve struggled to stay on point with healthy eating but have been overwhelmed or intimidated by the prospect of meal prepping, you’re in luck. Today, we’re sharing our tried and true tips to make meal prepping a breeze while helping you and your family stick to your wellness goals.
Ready to add some pep to meal prep? Read on!
Meal-Prep 101: Tips + Tricks to Make Healthy Eating a Cinch
Decide Which Type of ‘Prepper’ You Are
While there’s no “wrong way” to meal prep, we suggest determining which method works best for you, your family, and your goals. Do you prefer to make a few big batches of proteins, carbs, and veggies (think a bakes chicken + a skillet of ground meat along with a big batch of rice, sweet potatoes, + roasted veggies) so that you can mix and match each throughout the week + create new(ish) dishes? Or maybe you prefer to whip up a few full-fledged meals, like a big batch of a pasta dish, a casserole, and some type of breakfast bake (maybe a quiche for those who like to start the day with savory or baked oatmeal for those who prefer sweet).
Whichever meal-prep category you fall into, own the process and stick to it!
Double (or Triple) Up
If you’ve already planned to whip up a delicious meal or found a recipe you know you and your family loves, double up! Double or triple the ingredients used to ensure you’ll have lots of leftovers to have on hand or to freeze for those “in-case-of-emergency” situations when life gets away from you and you don’t have the time to shop and cook in real-time.
We especially love this tip when it comes to those blank-canvas protein sources like roasted chicken, ground meat, or roasted tofu, as each of these can be repurposed in delicious new ways throughout the week, making lunch (and even breakfast) prep dummy-proof! Toss your taco meat from dinner the night before into a scramble, slice up that roasted chicken from the night before into a sandwich, or turn roast tofu into fresh veggie spring-rolls–when it comes to repurposed proteins, the world is your oyster!
Make a Meal-Prep Roadmap
One of the easiest tricks for sticking to healthy-eating is to simply schedule a chunk of time before the start of the week to jot down a general meal plan. It doesn’t have to be fancy or formal–start by taking inventory of the foods you already have on hand, the staples you need to restock, and a general idea of how those staple foods will be used.
Depending on whether you choose to prep complete dishes or separate components of meals, having a roadmap to help you tackle grocery shopping + menu planning + finally, meal prepping, will ensure you stick to your good-food guns as you head into a new, busy week.
Streamline the Process
While we don’t love the phrase “to kill two birds with one stone” (it’s a bit dark, no?), it is applicable when it comes to meal prep. If you know you’ll be whipping up different items that require the same cooking prep, why not tackle it all at once! Here out some of our go-to’s for streamlining our time in the kitchen:
Already have the oven heated to roast a filet of salmon or a whole chicken? Prep those sweet potatoes, veggies, or baked casserole dishes while the proteins cook so you can toss them in as soon as the first batch finishes up! We love a sheet pan meal, so if you can toss the protein AND the veggies onto one sheet and cook them at once, even better!
Boiling pasta, rice, or another wholesome grain? Leave the pot simmering as soon as the carbohydrate sources are cooked + toss in any additional veggies or legumes you plan to include in the weekly meal plan.
We can all agree that cleanup is the worst part about meal prep. Side step unnecessary cleaning by using dishes and tools for multiple recipes to avoid a double wash up. For example, if you’re shredding cheese in the food processor, use it again for whipping up potatoes, a pesto sauce, or other delicious dish or dip that could benefit from a cheesy-infusion. Just be mindful of cross-contamination or incompatible flavor mixings.
The Freezer is Your Friend
Many of us underestimate the power of the freezer and are unaware of just how many foods can be frozen and reheated to near fresh-baked, pre-frozen quality. Baking up a batch of muffins? Double up and freeze the second half! Making a pot of chili? Save half by freezing it and tucking it away for the next cool day that calls for a big bowl of spicy, satisfying goodness. Making biscuits or fresh bread? Double the dough + freeze half! When it comes to surprising, freezer-safe foods, many of us aren’t abreast of just how many dishes do well as freezer meals.
Make it Fun!
Remember learning about Pavlov and his salivating dogs, who would salivate at the sound of a bell when they’d been conditioned to associate that sound with food? Make meal prepping your bell! Have a favorite TV show, podcast, or killer playlist you love? Save it for the next time you’re locked into meal prepping. Soon, you’ll look forward to those few hours each week in the kitchen, associating that time with your current favorite watch or listen.
Simplify with a Subscription Plan
From planning and prepping to shopping and restocking–we get it, it’s a lot for anyone, let alone a busy parent, professional, or student. One easy and fail-proof way to streamline meal prepping while saving time, money, + the extra step and effort of navigating the grocery store when you’ve already got a full plate and lengthy to-do list, it’s through a healthy eats subscription plan.
Whether you go for a meal prep subscription service or lean on an a la carte healthy food subscription service like Safe + Fair subscription, which allows you to pick and choose the gluten-free, allergy-safe, clean-label products you + your family love, a subscription service is a easy way to step up your meal prep game.If you’re ready to simplify snack time while keeping your pantry stocked with snacks and foods you can feel good about enjoying daily, it’s time to explore the scrumptious options available with Safe + Fair’s NEW Subscription program!