With planning and consistency, proper nutrition is possible every day of the week without a hassle.
Meal prep is a fantastic way to set yourself up for an easier, tastier week ahead with planned healthy meals at the ready. It also leaves minimal work to do in the kitchen throughout the week, and limited cleanup. There are plenty of reasons to consider making meal planning a part of your routine. Maybe you have a busy schedule, the desire to save money on takeout, or specific health/fitness goals. And if eating the same thing every day isn’t your style, there are levels to meal prep that still allow you to reap the benefits.
Consider likes and dislikes.
Now is the time to really lean in to what kind of food is satisfying to you and gives you energy. The quest to eat healthy doesn’t have to mean eating vegetables that make you miserable. Prepare meals that you know you’ll enjoy. And in the process, try new grocery items you’ve never explored to find whole foods that make you happy.
Make a list & stick to it.
You never want to go rogue in a grocery story. Once you’ve decided what meals you’re prepping, make a list of all necessary ingredients, maybe a few bonus goodies, and then don’t deviate once you get to the store. This is especially key if you have a goal to be more cost effective when it comes to food.
Don’t be fooled by the belief that fresh is ALWAYS best. Yes, fresh fruits and vegetables are nutrient-dense items filled with healthy goodness, but frozen produce is just as fulfilling—and cheaper! If you’re looking to cut some costs, swap out some fresh items for frozen like spinach, broccoli, or cut fruit. Pantry items like rice, beans/lentils, canned goods are other budget-friendly items that also have longer shelf life.
Making Holistically Healthy Meals
Putting the plan into action.
Maybe it’s the actual meal planning that has you feeling intimidated. Here’s a simple formula to use when choosing what to make: Protein + Vegetable + Smart carb + Healthy fat.
Include these elements in your meals and you have a winning dish. Hitting all four categories ensures you are getting a lot of nutrients, which means you’ll be satiated for longer. For a full breakdown on nutrition and what makes a healthy plate, check out this blog I wrote about the nutritional building blocks.
When it comes to the cooking, you can prepare full make-ahead meals that are ready to heat and eat. Or if you still want a sense of variety, consider batch cooking or ingredient prep. This allows you to season it in different way or may different ingredient combinations.
Keeping it fresh.
Proper storage is key. Tupperware is your friend! You’ll have to decide whether refrigeration or freezing is best, depending on the type of food. Meat and vegetables tend to last well in the fridge 4-5 days. If you’ve made a big batch of food that you don’t expect will be eaten within a week, freeze it to keep it fresh. Baked goods are also great for the freezer. Muffins, banana bread, leftover birthday cake…it can all be saved!
Let’s Get Cooking!
Here are some of my tried and true recipes that keep me happy and healthy during a busy week. I hope you enjoy!
Lemon Berry Yogurt Parfait
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 2 Tbsp rolled oats
- 1/2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp lemon curd
- 1/2 cup strawberries
- Place the oats and chia seeds in the bottom of a jar or other sealable container.
- Top with the yogurt, lemon curd, and strawberries.
- Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or up to 3-4 days.
Spinach Artichoke Breakfast Casserole
- 2-3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into rounds
- medium onion chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic finely chopped
- Sea salt to taste, for veggies
- 10 oz fresh baby spinach chopped
- 14 oz can artichoke hearts drained and chopped
- 2 large eggs pasture raised
- 1/2 cup coconut milk full fat, from a can
- 1/2 tsp sea salt1/4 tsp black pepper1/4 tsp onion powder optional
- Preheat your oven to 400 F and grease a 9×13″ casserole dish w/ oil.
- Toss the sweet potato rounds with your cooking fat of choice and salt, arrange in dish
- Place casserole dish w/ the sweet potatoes in the preheated oven and roast until softened and beginning to turn light brown, 25-30 mins.
- Heat a large skillet over med-hi heat and add onions and garlic. Add all the spinach, allow it to wilt, then add the chopped artichoke hearts.
- In a large bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, salt, pepper, onion powder until smooth.
- To assemble casserole, arrange the spinach artichoke mixture over the cooked sweet potato crust. Pour the egg mixture over the top evenly.
- Bake in oven for 22-25 minutes or until egg mixture is set in the center and begins to puff up.
Harvest Kale Salad with Maple Tahini Dressing
- 2-3 roasted sweet potatoes
- 2-4 cups brussels sprouts
- 6 cups chopped kale
- 1 large apple
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- Preheat oven to 400ºF, peel and dice the sweet potatoes into small pieces. Place the sweet potatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet and add seasoning (cinnamon, cumin, smoked paprika, and salt.)
- Roast sweet potatoes for about 30 minutes, or until they are tender and browned on edges.
- Repeat with brussels sprouts.
- While vegetables are roasting, prepare the rest of the salad. Dressing: add the tahini, water, lemon juice, maple syrup, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and salt to a bowl. Whisk until ingredients are smooth.
- Pull the kale leaves from tough woody stems and rinse them well in a colander with cool water.
- Divide the sliced kale between four bowls or containers.
- Cut the apple into thin slices. Add the apple slices to each container. Add 1 Tbsp each of the pepitas, chopped pecans, and dried cranberries to each container. When the sweet potatoes and sprouts are finished roasting, divide them between the containers.
- Enjoy the salad immediately or refrigerate up to five days.
Creamy Tuscan Chicken with Red Lentil Pasta
- 5 lbs boneless chicken breasts or thighs
- 1 TBS. coconut oil or olive oil
- ¼ tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. onion powder
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 TBS. minced garlic
- 1 TBS. flour
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ½ cup coconut milk (full fat)
- ½ TBS. stone ground mustard
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 2/3 cup sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 ½ cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
- Your choice of pasta
- Season chicken w/ salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. In a large skillet add oil and cook chicken on medium-heat until brown, no longer pink in the center. Remove chicken from heat and set aside.
- Add more oil if needed, cook onions over medium heat until soft. Stir in garlic.
- Whisk in the flour, then add broth and coconut milk. Stir to combine, then stir in mustard, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook and continue to stir until it thickens.
- Add spinach and sun dried tomatoes, allow mixture to simmer until spinach is wilted and tomatoes soft.
- Add chicken back into the skillet and simmer. Serve over pasta.