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7 Best Meal Prep Hacks
image of mason jar salad for 7 best meal prep hacks by intentionally eat

7 Best Meal Prep Hacks

 

7 Best Meal Prep Hacks

image of cherry tomatoes, carrots, berries and dip for 7 best meal prep hacks by intentionally eat

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.

If you like Smoothies for breakfast or snacks, here are some tasty recipes.

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.

Need some Mason Jar Salad recipes? Here you go!

image of mason jar salad for 7 best meal prep hacks by intentionally eat

 

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.

 

Image of sliced kiwi, peppers and berries for 7 best meal prep hacks by intentionally eat

 

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.

image of overnight oats with berries for 7 best meal prep hacks by intentionally eat

 

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!

Intentionally Eat,

Cindy

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28 Comments

  1. Cia Black

    You know I do just about all of these except for number 6. It shockling has not occurred to me to just make more and freeze it. Do these items taste any different after being frozen?

    1. Cindy Author

      They taste pretty much the same and its so convenient. If I’m in doubt whether something will freeze I just think about the grocery store and if I’ve ever noticed the item there.

  2. Jodi

    Great tips. I’m totally going back and checking out your mason jar salad tips. I’ve wanted to do that for a while. My daughter and I love salads!

    1. Cindy Author

      Thanks! I think you will love mason jar salads! They are so easy and last for 5 days!

  3. Pink Caboodle

    These are such great tips. I’m trying to do better with meal prepping, I’ll have to give these a try!

    1. Cindy Author

      Thanks! I hope they help.

  4. Ithfifi

    Fantastic tips, I really need to adopt the easy breakfast idea. I always need something super filling but its not helping my routine along any fast. I may take into consideration the prep time and see if I can half it based on your suggestions 🙂

    1. Cindy Author

      The breakfasts are so quick! I hope it works for you.

  5. Cleo

    Like your “freeze it” it tips. Although we do everything from scratch. I can imagine, people who dont have prep companies would find the cook and freeze method really useful! Great blog!

    1. Cindy Author

      Thanks Cleo!

  6. Liz

    Thank you thank you thank you! I really want to make more food myself but I always find myself running out of time!

    1. Cindy Author

      You are so welcome Liz! It’s all about efficiency.

  7. Tanvi Rastogi

    The sample roasting times are so helpful! Thanks for sharing. This is just the post that I needed to read!

    ❥ tanvii.com

    1. Cindy Author

      So glad it was helpful!

  8. Marie

    As a fitness trainer I can’t agree more with your points especially the first one. It’s never a good idea to go shopping when you are hungry!

    1. Cindy Author

      You got that right!

  9. Karrie Frost

    I think I have to try the overnight oats. I often don’t eat breakfast because I am in a rush in the morning. Making it the night before would be a complete game changer.

    1. Cindy Author

      They are so ridiculously easy! You might like the chia pudding for breakfast, too.

  10. Alaina-Lee Monster

    Snacks are always something I forget about when prepping for the week. Also, I had no idea mason jar salads lasted 5 days. That’s amazing!

    1. Cindy Author

      They will as long as you layer them correctly. They are so awesome!

  11. Kesha

    I definitely needed to see this post! My husband and I were just discussing how we need to do a better job shopping. I am going to have to try that creamy carrot cake oatmeal. It looks so yummy.

    1. Cindy Author

      Thanks Kesha! Planning is key to saving money, time and weight! I hope you love the oatmeal as much as I do!

  12. Beola Lawal

    This is just great, I love all your tips here and I am going to make use of them all!

    1. Cindy Author

      Thanks! I hope they help!

  13. Josselyn Radillo

    I’m totally going back and checking out your mason jar salad tips. I’m starting this year healthy and your tips are the best

    1. Cindy Author

      Thanks Josselyn! I LOVE mason jar salads! I have several recipes like Asian, Mexican, Caesar, etc. Hope you find some you like!

  14. Indu

    Lots of kitchen smart tips. Though I am a lazy woman as far as diet part goes but your tips I certainly find useful. And may be I get more into healthy cooking.

  15. Claire

    Great suggestions!! Roasted veggies are definitely the way forward!!

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