I’ve been talking a lot about meal prep and batch cooking lately because it’s one of the best ways to stay healthy when you’re really busy. If you haven’t started batch cooking yet, I hope today’s post will motivate you to seriously get on it!
Why should you meal prep?
Hands down, the best strategy that I know of for saving time while cooking your own healthy meals is to batch cook. The first couple of times that I batch cooked I was amazed at how much extra time I had throughout the week. (It’s a lot easier to make a double portion at once than to make a single portion on two separate days.)
I think you’ll also save financially by batch cooking ahead of time. I’ve found that batch cooking helps me avoid eating out, for one. (Why go out when you can have something better – in less time – right at home?) You’ll also be less likely to buy a bunch of food you don’t need because you’ll be going into the store with a plan.
What to prep:
The specifics of your meal prep will (obviously) depend on the dishes that you want to make but there are certain things that I try to prep almost every week if I can.
Is there something on this list that you could batch cook to make your life a little easier?
Make these meals + snacks ahead of time:
1. Healthy snacks
Having healthy snacks ready to go whenever you need them is so helpful when you’re on a tight schedule. Bypass packaged snacks with homemade energy bars/bites or fruit and veggie chips.
2. Grab-and-go breakfasts
Do you find yourself constantly skipping breakfast because you don’t have time? There are so many healthy breakfasts that you can completely prepare ahead of time to avoid this. Some of my favorites are chia pudding, granola, overnight oats, and smoothies. (Store prepared smoothies in the fridge and enjoy as-is or blend with extra ice immediately before drinking.)
[Check out my recipes below + find even more grab-and-go breakfast recipes in my free cookbook.]
Strawberry Smoothie Bowl with Flax (just leave out the toppings until serving)
3. A big pot of soup
I try to make a big pot of soup every weekend, especially in the winter months. It’s a simple meal that always hits the spot and tastes just as good reheated as fresh. Portion out servings into separate containers and store in the fridge or freezer for the ultimate quick, easy, and healthy meal.
4. Hummus + bean dips
I love hummus and bean dips because they can do double duty as dips and sandwich spreads. Store a batch in the fridge with chopped carrots, celery, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes for a filling snack or spread on bread with some veggies and avocado for a simple sandwich. Bean dips also work well on salads!
5. Nut Milk
Making your own nut milk is so simple! It’s also a tasty and nutritious alternative to cow’s milk or store-bought non-dairy milks. Go simple with a plain almond milk or – my favorite – mix it up with a variety of nuts, seeds, and flavorings. Use in smoothies and chia puddings or enjoy with granola.
Partially prep these foods:
1. A batch of whole grains
I usually just choose one batch of whole grains to eat throughout the week. My favorites are quinoa, brown rice, spelt, and farro. (Millet, sorghum, buckwheat, barley, etc. also work.) Add your cooked grain to salads, soups, and bowls throughout the week.
2. A batch of beans or lentils
Beans and lentils are some of the best sources of plant-based protein. Dried beans are the most affordable but they also take longer to cook. Canned beans are also a great choice – just drain out the liquid and rinse the beans well before storing them for later. Use them in salads, soups, bean dips, tacos, and bowls throughout the week.
3. Wash and chop vegetables
This tip is for anyone who has opted for potato chips over veggies because – let’s be honest – you were just too lazy to wash and chop. (It’s okay, I’ve been there.) I promise you’d eat more veggies if they were just as convenient as potato chips. Keep a tupperware filled with chopped carrots, celery, bell peppers, etc. for easy snacking. You can also pre-chop veggies to be roasted or sautéed later on.
Do yourself a favor and make veggies the easiest choice.
There are tons of meals + snacks that you can prepare ahead of time – I’ve hardly scratched the surface! Pick a couple recipes off my list or choose your own favorites.
I promise your busy weekday self will thank you for planning ahead!
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