Updated: Oct 1, 2021
Do you use meal prep to set yourself up for busy weeks?
Meal prepping is an excellent skill to have in your healthy living toolbox because it'll set you up to eat better, especially on busy weeks, so you can feel and function your best.
Plus it's a super simple way to improve your daily food habits by incorporating more nutrient dense foods that you've prepared yourself.
Meal prepping will also help you maximize what you already have on hand in your pantry, fridge and freezer, reducing food waste -- saving you valuable time and money!
And I've got a few simple tips to help you get started.
When you're preparing to make a meal and note the ingredients you'll need for it, get into the habit of thinking about how you can repurpose any leftovers. For example, if you need cabbage but will have a fair amount left over after making your initial meal, it can be repurposed in stir fries, slaws or salads.
Essentially, it’s about thinking one step ahead in order to make the best use of everything you buy, minimizing food waste. As you move through the week, get in the habit of asking yourself, "What else can I do with this?" Could your leftovers be used to beef up another meal? Could you freeze ingredients for quick meal prep later?
This works especially well when batch cooking, leaving you plenty of staple ingredients you can easily use later in the week or freeze for future use, like chicken, ground turkey, and brown rice.
Tips to repurpose leftovers for future meals:
● Tacos, burritos and enchiladas are a an easy way to use up extra veggies.
● Veggies, grains, beans and proteins can be batched in bulk for hearty soups, salads and casseroles.
● Meats and veggies make great pizza toppings.
● Quiches and frittatas are great options for leftover veggies.
● Making extra helpings of quinoa or brown rice are perfect for taco and burrito bowls, a variety of salads, or to pair with veggies, beans and lean proteins.
Meal prepping for one?
Even if you have a family, you won’t necessarily be meal prepping for everyone in the house, especially when your kids are older or members of your family have varying schedules that make sitting down for meals together a challenge.
Meal prepping for one might feel tricky and frustrating at first, but it's actually quite simple.
Here are some simple tips to make meal prepping for one simple and satisfying:
Go for smaller portions. It can often feel like batch cooking isn’t going to work for you when you’re not cooking to feed multiple people, with many recipes aimed to serve 4-6, but the trick is to get creative. Adapt recipes to suit smaller portions. This may involve switching up the amount of ingredients, cutting them in half for example, or reducing the cook time to compensate for recipe changes.
Portion out meat as soon as you get home. This works well whether you are purchasing a package of 4 chicken breasts or buying your meats in bulk. Stashing individual portions of meat in the freezer make it simple to grab-and-go when you need it. On the day you’re ready to use it, just take out your single portion size, thaw and bake. It's that simple!
Use a base that works for multiple meals. Meats like chicken, turkey and fish, grains like rice and quinoa, and vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash can be easily used in a variety of healthy meals. Cook up a big batch with minimal seasonings and spices to use them in a variety of dishes.
Go for recipes that can be easily repurposed. Some recipes really lend themselves to being eaten again for lunch the next day or spicing up tomorrow's dinner. This is especially convenient when you’re cooking for one. Leftovers from Taco Tuesday are great for a hearty salad on Wednesday, or that shredded chicken from last night's pasta dinner while be tasty in a lettuce wrap for lunch.
Meal prepping is a habit and takes practice, like any other healthy habit. Keep it simple and realistic by taking small steps to prep healthy foods each week. Start by choosing one meal or snack to focus on, such as just breakfast, lunch or dinner, rather than trying to prep for every meal, every day of the week. Meal prep can be as simple as rinsing and cutting up fruits and veggies for quick grab-and-go snacking and as extensive as batch cooking chicken breasts and grains for several meals. The goal of prepping some foods in advance is to make eating better, simple, easy and rewarding.
Are you tired of starting over every Monday, hopping from diet to diet, wondering if you'll ever get it "right" so that you can lose the weight and become the best version of you? I’ve got you friend! Come join me inside my FREE women’s-only Facebook community: Eat Better with Coach Mindy. It's for busy women like you who are ready to lose weight, gain energy, get healthy and fit -- without restrictive diets or punishing food rules.