7 Best Meal Prep Hacks
You can save time, save money and reach your goal weight faster with these 7 Best Meal Prep Hacks.
We have all heard that abs are made in the kitchen, well, you will be able to make them a little quicker with these easy meal prep hacks. You can shop smarter, cook two meals at once, cut calories and save so much time you can twiddle your thumbs.
According to research, spending over an hour a day on meal prep is linked to better dietary habits which can ultimately help tip the scale in your favor. I know what you are thinking, “I don’t have an hour a day to meal prep.” Good news! You don’t have to do it every day if you use the 7 Best Meal Prep Hacks. You will be able to easily prep your weeks worth of “ab making” meals and snacks in a couple of hours, saving you from making bad choices when your week gets hectic.
1. Shop Smart
You have to have an action plan so you can manuever through the aisles of chemical crud and get to the good stuff. A grocery shopping list is mandatory. Plan your week’s worth of meals ahead of time, so you can easily grab what you need for the recipe you are making.
I suggest always having some “go to” meals. For us, its Smothered Bean Burritos, Spaghetti Marinara, and Black Bean Chili. These are simple “low cook” meals that I always have ready to go. You can decide what 2 or 3 meals your family always enjoys that are easy to make and be sure to always have the ingredients on hand.
I like to plan my meals by using the following guide – 1 Mexican inspired meal, 1 Pasta, 1 Soup, 1 Asian inspired meal, 1 Easy, 1 New recipe and 1 out or freezer meal. For instance, our Mexican inspired meal might be taco salad, enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos, etc. The Asian inspired meal might be stir fry, lo mein, spring rolls, sweet and sour soup, etc. Are you getting the idea? If I have 4 meals under each topic, then I have 28 meals that I can rotate through so no one becomes bored with the meals, I’m a happy grocery shopper and we healthier from eating at home.
Another shopping tip – if you are in a big hurry and you know you are going to have a hectic week, buy convenience foods. Hit the salad bar, load up with the harder vegetables that won’t rot as quickly like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, etc. and let them chop it for you. It might cost a little more, but it will save you from hitting the drive thru and that costs not only money, but your health.
Buy pre-cooked brown rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, etc in the freezer section if you know you will have a frantic week. Don’t be a hero, you can cook it yourself next week when things slow down.
Lastly, if you are short on time order your groceries. I know some of you want to squeeze that tomato and thump the watermelon, but save yourself some time and let the grocers pick it out for you. If you don’t like the produce you can always take it back or give them specific notes as to what you want, i.e. green bananas.
Ordering your groceries will help you be more organized, save money, save time and you won’t impulse buy!
2. Get Chopping
Now that you have your fruit and veggies from the store, get chopping. I suggest chopping the harder vegetables (the ones with less water content) and storing them in individual containers. I like to wait and chop bell peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes until right before I use them, so they stay fresh and last longer.
You can place some of your chopped veg and fruit in individual packages for ready to go healthy smoothies.
Another great way to enjoy your veg is in a Mason Jar Salad. They are so convenient and easy to make. You can have them on hand for lunches or dinners. If you don’t know how to layer one, check this out.
3. Freeze It
If you go to the effort of making burritos make some extra and freeze them. You can freeze pasta, soups, broth, chili, veggie burgers, lasagna, etc. Every time you cook think about whether or not you could freeze the meal or maybe one or two of the ingredients in order to save time. Here’s a great site for learning to properly freeze foods.
4. Snack On
A lot of people forget to meal prep their snacks and that is a big mistake. Snacks can make or break our diets and stop us from reaching our health goals. They are easy to prep and so convenient. Some ideas – 1 oz of nuts (I suggest unsalted), mason jar yogurt parfaits, energy bites (try these Naturally Sweetened Energy Bites), veggies and hummus or dip.
5. I’m Roasting
Grab those root veggies and get to roasting. When you are cutting your vegetables for the week and your Mason Jar Salads, cut some extra and roast them. Place carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, celery, parsnips, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, etc. Toss them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 425 degrees for about 30-45 minutes.
You can also roast softer veg. Roasted asparagus is AMAZING! Here’s a good guideline –
Root Vegetables – beets, potatoes, carrots, onions – 30 – 45 minutes.
Winter squash – butternut squash, acorn squash – 20 – 60 minutes depending on size.
Crucifers – broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts – 15 – 25 minutes.
Soft veg – zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, tomatoes – 10 – 20 minutes.
Thin veg – green beans, asparagus – 10 – 20 minutes.
The roasted vegetables are great as a side or to top a salad or grain bowl.
6. Boil Me Over
Remember when you are making rice, barley, quinoa or any grain, make extra and use it for another meal or freeze it. The great thing about meal prep is it doesn’t all have to happen during the three hours you have designated on Sunday. You can make pasta marinara on Tuesday and boil extra pasta to use in a pasta salad on Thursday. Plan ahead and save yourself some steps.
7. Make Breakfast Easy
It really is the most important meal of the day. It can either start you off on the right foot or cause you to climb aboard the carb craving roller coaster. You can meal prep your way to a healthy start with Overnight Oats, Easy Chia Seed Pudding, Energy Bites or Creamy Carrot Cake Oatmeal.
With the 7 tips you should become a meal prep superstar!
Tag me @intentionallyeat so I can see your prepping! Remember, prepping is always more fun with friends, so make a date and get your prep on!