When I feel a loss of control over the world around me, I long for an actionable solution to stabilize something, anything. That’s where Meal Prep comes in. It’s a time saving, cost effective, type-a satisfying solution to make your life a little bit easier.
The key to starting any new habit is to start small, so that’s why we’re laying out the basics here. Here are a few tips and recipes to get you in gear for a successful go at Meal Prep.
The Big 3
My menu changes every week, but I keep these three things always stocked in my fridge:
- Healthy Snacks like carrots sticks, apples, hummus, nuts, etc. should be easy to find so when someone in the house gets a snacking craving. These make for a quick grab and go solution– even if you’re just going from the kitchen to your couch.
- Pre-made protein like hard boiled eggs, shredded chicken, or cooked beans are easy to make in advance and in a large quantity. These building blocks transform into a variety of filling lunches and quick dinners.
- A double-batched leftover, like soup or a vegetable curry, offers a re-heatable, stand alone meal that is a ready to go throughout the week. I like to think of this as a long-term leftover, one that I know will come in handy when I don’t feel like cooking.
Mix and Match with Individual Storage Containers
When it comes to storing leftovers and meal prep items, I use a variety of containers — Pyrex containers are great, but I also use a lot of glass jars and more recently a plethora of empty plastic gelato pints (go figure). I keep a variety of sizes handy, but frequently resort to my small-medium sized containers that keep things separated without maxing out my fridge space. The separation will allow you to mix and match things, like rice or protein, that can be reused in a variety of accompanying dishes with different flavor profiles.
Keep a List & Practice FIFO
Take inventory of what you have in the fridge and pantry each week – you’ll thank yourself later. We can learn a lot from the beloved restaurant mentality of FIFO (First in First Out) which will help cut down on your food waste at home by using items that were purchased first; using a simple roll of tape with a sharpie can easily eliminate the guesswork. Additionally, learn how to prioritize ingredients based on how long they will stay fresh in your fridge. A root vegetable, for instance, can live in the fridge for weeks at a time if it needs to, and spinach or kale last longer than tender salad greens because these heartier greens can easily be sautéed on their last leg. Also, the freezer is your meal prep ally, if there is a long lingering cup of soup or wilting green, pop it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it.
Here is a sneak peek of what’s on my meal plan rotation this week:
- Granola, Fried Eggs, Smoothie, Apples and Warm Oats
Lunch & Dinner Options:
- *Cauliflower curry, with rice
- Big greens salad with *shredded chicken
- *Chickpea Salad Sandwich with local greens
- Vegetarian Fried Rice, with *leftover rice
- Green Salad with *Roasted veggies
Snacks all Week:
- *Cut carrot sticks, apples, and cheese cubes
* Can all be prepped on Sunday, or throughout the week as needed. Check out these other meal prep ideas for inspiration!