We all aspire to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle so we can embrace life’s challenges with open arms. But let’s face it, life can get busy, and those romantic notions of eating healthy and staying consistent can go right out the window. But it’s not impossible to stick to your healthy habits and reach your goals! We’ve pulled together some healthy meal prep ideas to come to the rescue when life gets nutty.
So what’s ‘meal prep’? It’s when you plan, prepare and pack your meals and snacks in advance, usually for the full upcoming week. The main goal of meal prepping is to know what you’re going to eat for the week so you don’t have to resort to on-the-go options like takeout, as well as to optimize for healthy, nutritious meals in appropriate portions.
5 Benefits of simple, healthy meal prep
For some, the thought of cooking all of your meals at home can be daunting, but there are so many benefits to eating homemade food. You’ll be convinced in no time (just as long as it takes to read this list, in fact!).
1. You’ll save money
If you’re not used to doing your shopping for the week in one go, it can sting to see that first grocery bill total. But in reality, it’s an investment. When you buy ingredients in bulk and make the freezer your bestie, you can score sweet deals and waste less food. If you’re ready to take meal prep to the next level, stock up on staple pantry ingredients like brown rice, nuts, quinoa, and legumes when they’re on sale. You’ll also save compared to what you’d spend on meals out.
2. You’ll save time
No one has time to spare, and going through the same cooking routine every single day can be a drain on your energy. By spending a couple of hours meal prepping on a Sunday, you not only save the actual time spent in the kitchen during the week, but you also save yourself the time you’d otherwise spend every day just thinking about what to eat.
3. You’ll control portions
When you’ve prepared your meal, you know exactly what and how much you’re consuming. And, in eating your portioned out meals, you can get a true idea of what a portion looks like (which makes you better in estimating in other situations). Once the container is empty, you stop eating unlike with take-out, dining out, or those instances where you make two servings of dinner on a Tuesday night and end up eating both of them instead of saving one for lunch (can you tell we’ve been there?).
4. You’ll clean up less
This is a perfect example of killing two birds with one stone! Since you’ll only be cooking all of your meals once or twice a week, you’ll only have to clean the kitchen that many times. Which won’t just save you energy, it’ll free up so much time too.
5. You’ll ease stress
Not wanting to think about food constantly, but then being forced to make food-related decisions can create a vicious cycle. That’s why thinking about it once (during the prep) can free up your mind and reduce that mental stress and any food anxieties.
8fit meal prep tips
Hopefully, by now you’re convinced so we can move onto the next step: some quick meal prep tips!
Cook foods all at once
Some veggies have the same cooking time, so instead of roasting them individually, go for a one-pan bake! Potatoes, parsnips, cauliflower, onions, and carrots are perfect for roasting simultaneously, while fast-cooking veggies like tomatoes, zucchini and mushrooms can go in another batch.
Invest in good tupperware
Investing a bit more for good quality tupperware will make a huge difference to your meal prep routine. We love glass containers, and you can consider mason jars as an option for food-friendly and eco-friendly storage. Then you’ll be able to make and enjoy all these jar salad recipes.
Line your containers
Using a paper towel to store your food-storage containers helps absorb moisture, ensuring your food stays fresh for longer. You don’t want your fruits and veggies to spoil – it would be a lot of hard work gone to waste. You can also keep the delicate, fresh elements of a meal aside and add it when you’re ready to chow down.
Separate wet ingredients
Dressings and sauces can make a meal, but make sure you keep them separate to avoid soggy salads and the like. You can keep them in a small bottle of a tightly-sealed container if you’re transporting them, or you can store some select ingredients and condiments in your office kitchen (or on your desk, if you’re worried about hungry coworkers) and prepare sauces and dressings fresh just before eating.
Meal prep breakfast recipes
What you see is what you get with this breakfast — it’s literally just grab-and-go! There’s a bit of everything to make sure you get all the nutrients you need. When you’re prepping, you can cook a big batch of eggs to get you through the next few days, since they keep in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Tangerine & honey couscous
This fluffy whole grain couscous is a protein-packed, hearty way to start the day. For meal prep, combine everything beforehand, apart from the yogurt and tangerine pieces.
Vegetarian meal prep ideas
Root veggies roast with nuts and goat cheese
An all-in-one tray bake is an ideal option for meal prep. Simply roast chopped sweet potato and parsnip for 20 minutes, and just before it’s cooked, add the spinach, goat cheese, and crushed hazelnuts until toasted. Easy enough for a busy weeknight, but you’ll still be glad you made it in advance.
Chickpea harvest salad
Chickpeas help increase satiety, boost digestion and keep your blood sugar stable. On their own, they might not be so exciting, but after you try this recipe with apples, raisins, and walnuts, you’ll see them in a whole new light. Grab a big mixing bowl, stir everything together and then transfer it to jars or containers right after.
Veggie burrito bowl
Preparing this burrito bowl is super convenient, thanks to ready-to-go ingredients like canned black beans, bottle pepper sauce, and garlic powder. Just add a bunch of chopped fresh veggies like tomatoes, bell peppers and onions, sprinkle some cheese, and you’re left with healthy comfort food that you can reheat throughout the week.
Easy meal prep lunches and dinners
Sheet pan Spanish chicken with sweet potatoes and peppers
Here’s another one-tray-dish to make your life (and meal prep) that much easier! Proteins, carbs and fat are all in solid supply in this Mediterranean dish with stunning flavors. The cut of chicken is skin-on which, yes, has a slightly higher fat content, but it also has more iron and healthy skin- and joint-protective collagen.
One-pan roasted chicken, sweet potato, and broccoli
It’s all in the name: combine the three ingredients with olive and herbs before baking for 25 minutes. It’s the perfect dish to cook lots of since this dish keeps in the refrigerator for up to four days. We recommend spicing it up with paprika, chili powder, garlic, an Italian spice blend, or whatever else you like.
Steak with chimichurri and parsnip fries
Steak and fries to go, please! All you have to do is bake the fries, blend the sauce and pan-fry the steak. Be sure you don’t overcook to steak if you plan to reheat it before each meal. Otherwise, make a fantastic salad by slicing it up cold alongside the parsnips and mixing it with the lettuce and dressing.