Published in the Anniston/Gadsden Christian Magazine, Jan. 8, 2018 HERE
Does the new year bring a resolution of making healthy food choices? Meal prepping is a sure way to get neatly organized for breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners. Meal prep doesn’t necessarily mean pre-packaging every meal and snack. For me and my clients, it means having the necessary ingredients prepped and ready for quick meal-time assembly. Meal prep is not pre-meditating a menu, but rather preparing a bunch of whole ingredients, in one go, once or twice a week, that can be used to create varied meals throughout the week.
Here are 5 meal prep strategies to help prepare you for success!
1. Schedule your grocery store date every week!
Consistent healthy food choices are made when you make time to get to the grocery store each week. If you are in the habit of running by the grocery store when you are out of this or that, you are most likely not setting yourself up for success. Make a date each week with the grocery store, just like you do for your doctor or hair appointment, for example. When we have the right foods prepped and ready, we usually eat them.
2. Get all about that base.
Pre-cook a grain for the week. I recommend cooking at least 2 grain bases, such as brown rice, couscous, barely, whole wheat pasta, oats or quinoa. Precooked old fashioned oats with nuts, coconut and raisins is a staple in my home. It makes for a hardy whole grain that contains 100% nutrition for mornings on the go. Grains take 20-50 minutes to cook, and once precooked, stored and refrigerated, they make for quick filling bases to any meal. Other base ideas include a variety of greens, like kale, arugula, and spinach, vinegar salads. Grilling or baking your meat & poultry in advance is a huge time saver for days you get home from work and are not interested in doing much cooking.
3. Reunite with Mr. Crock Pot.
Meal prepping in the crock pot doesn’t require recipes! Take a bunch of your favorite foods and ingredients and have fun mixing and matching them in different ways. A good rule of thumb is choosing one protein, one veggie, and one grain. Add spice, herbs, water and a broth. Cook on low for 8 hours while you sleep or while at work.
4. Freeze it!
Your refrigerator may not contain a lot of extra room. If so, take advantage of your freezer by prepping meals and ingredients that are simple and quick to reheat on busy weeknights, like soups, sauces and vegetables.
5. Choose creative storage options.
After preparing quality food, store it in your best containers. Using what you have is a good motto, especially if in glass. Mason jars and Pyrex containers with lids work best! Don’t toss out any emptied glass jars, like your jars of coconut oil, peanut butter and pasta sauce, etc. These make for excellent storage containers for nuts, seeds, grains, and premade salads. Clean them up and then soak them in vinegar water to remove the labeling stickers with ease. If you want to get really creative, paint the lids with chalkboard paint and label the lids for the lower pantry.