Meal prep can make your life so much easier. However, if you haven’t done it before – it can feel so overwhelming! Where do you start? What do you fix? Is this going to turn into the time that you tried to do Once a Month Cooking and wound up buried under fourteen trays of lasagna?
I started doing meal prep about a year ago to try and make my life easier by just cooking simple things to either put in the fridge for the week or to freeze for later. That way I have something on hand for when I cook something for the family that I won’t be having or I just need a quick healthy meal for myself.
I put 3-5 pounds of frozen chicken breasts in the crock-pot with about 1/2 cup water. I cook on low all day or high for about 6 hours. I shred them and put them in 1/2 cup portions in ziploc bags for the freezer. It is so simple to pull those chicken breasts out of the freezer and plop them in the crock-pot to cook all day while I do other things.
Here is the recipe. I make each recipe in individual containers (glass mason jars, tupperware, bowls with saran wrap) and make sure there is enough for the week in the fridge. That way I only need to grab one and eat. Easier than cereal. 🙂
Again, your crock-pot can be your best friend. Just rinse them and put a pound in the crockpot with 6-8 cups of water. You can cook them overnight or during the day when you are busy. Keep them in the fridge for the week to eat or freeze them in 1 cup portions to throw in soups or on top of salads.
I love to make a batch of these to dip into during the week-just to be reheated. No need to wait for it to cook. I have even started throwing some on top of my salads. Amazing!
I have just started making mason jar salads which are a huge thing right now. Do a search and it will land you a plethora of recipes and options. I will be posting my own to that long list soon.
If you don’t want to make mason jar salads, or that sounds to overwhelming, you can start by just chopping. Chop your cucumbers and place them in a container in the fridge. Repeat with all veggies that you like to put on your salad. That way, when you are ready to make a salad – all you have to do is dump ingredients into a bowl.
Again, there are so many recipes on the internet. I recently made one that I love. It was a mixture of different recipes that I had tried. (Again, will post soon:)) I like to make them and keep them in the fridge for a couple of days. Or, freeze them in ziploc bags in the portions you want. You can reheat them in the microwave, toaster, or toaster oven.
I make a big pot of soup to eat for lunches or snacks through the week. I also freeze in 1 cup portions in the bags or containers in the freezer. I do this for my kids too. I have a teenage boy who is never full. 🙂
Now, there are things that I like to just have on hand to help ensure I can have a healthy snack or meal.
- canned tuna/salmon – can be added to a salad or eaten with fruit or veggie sticks.
- nonfat greek yogurt – an easy source of protein that can be eaten many ways. One of my favorites is here. Another favorite will be posted soon that includes peanut butter. It can be added to smoothies for extra protein.
- nonfat cottage cheese – can be added to a salad, eaten as a snack with fruit or vegetables, or added to smoothies.
- raw almonds – these are wonderful to keep in your purse for when you are out running errands and are starving. It keeps you for ordering that large cinnamon roll from the bakery and feeling guilty later.
- frozen fruit – to be added to smoothies or put on top of oatmeal. Bananas are amazing frozen. They give smoothies and ice cream-like texture.
- baby carrots – these are easy to grab out of the fridge to throw on a salad or have with cottage cheese, peanut butter, etc. The possibilities are endless.
- Nut butters – I love peanut butter and almond butter. A spoonful can be used to go with the baby carrots or apple slices, can be put in smoothie or oatmeal. One teaspoon can also be eaten “as is” to help with those junk food cravings. 😉
As you can see, there are so many possibilities for making healthy eating easier for you to make it a permanent part of your lifestyle. It won’t feel so overwhelming once you start. You will start coming up with amazing ideas on your own and wonder how you ever did without meal prep before!