In the fast-paced world we live in, finding time for healthy eating can often be a challenge. However, with a little planning and some strategic meal prep, maintaining a nutritious diet becomes not only achievable but also surprisingly convenient. As a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified personal trainer, I’m here to share some practical tips and strategies to help you master meal prep for effortless healthy eating.
1. Plan Your Menu: Start by planning a menu for the week. Consider your nutritional needs, including a balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. This ensures that each meal is a well-rounded, satisfying combination of nutrients. It’s helpful to have a place to organize your ideas. I really love this magnetic weekly planner so everyone knows what we are having for the week.
2. Choose Versatile Ingredients: Opt for versatile ingredients that can be used in multiple recipes throughout the week. For example, grilled or rotisserie chicken can be added to salads, wraps, tacos, or grain bowls, providing a variety of meal options. By using the same protein option throughout the week, you are being more efficient with your cooking time.
3. Batch Cooking: Save time by batch cooking staple items. Prepare a large batch of grains like quinoa or brown rice, roast a tray of mixed vegetables, and grill a batch of lean proteins. Store these items in separate containers for easy assembly during the week.
4. Invest in Quality Containers: Invest in quality, airtight containers to keep your prepped meals fresh. These pyrex bowls are my favorite because they can safely go in the microwave or oven. Divided containers are an excellent option for portion control and keeping different components of your meal separate until it’s time to eat.
5. Snack Smart: Don’t forget about snacks. Prepping healthy snacks like cut veggies with hummus, yogurt parfaits, or a handful of nuts can prevent unhealthy snacking on impulse. Keep them at eye level in your fridge or pantry so they are the easiest choice when you are hungry.
With these meal prep strategies and a delicious recipe (below) to kickstart your journey, you’ll find that maintaining a healthy diet becomes not just a goal, but a sustainable reality. If you are looking for more personalized support, be sure to schedule a free consultation with one of our registered dietitian nutritionists.
Recipe: Sheet-Pan Garlic-Soy Chicken & Veggies
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tsp canola oil
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch strips
- 2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
- 1 medium red or orange bell pepper, cut into 1-inch strips
- 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tsp sesame oil
Place a large rimmed baking sheet in the oven; preheat to 400°F.
Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, canola oil, ginger and crushed red pepper in a small skillet; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.
Place chicken, snap peas, bell pepper and scallions into a large bowl. Add soy mixture and stir to coat. Remove baking sheet from the oven and coat with cooking spray. Spread the chicken and veggie mixture in an even layer on the hot baking sheet. Bake, stirring once, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Drizzle with sesame oil and stir to coat.
Adapted from www.eatingwell.com
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