Hey guys! Depending on how you go about it, meal prepping can be a bit of a challenge or your weekly lifesaver. Although it does require a bit of thinking in advance, it will end up saving you both time and money. The first step is to find healthy food items that will stay fresh for more than just a couple of days once prepped. I came across the Beachbody Portion Control Container Kit to help save your life while meal prepping. I love them because they come color coordinated as shown below and are extremely affordable!
- 1 Green container – Veggies
- 1 Purple container – Fruits
- 1 Red container – Proteins
- 1 Yellow container – Carbs
- 1 Blue container – Healthy Fats
- 2 Orange containers – Seeds & Dressings
These make it really simple to meal prep and also make sure you are eating the correct serving size.
Okay, so let’s begin with the most important meal of the day, breakfast. Having breakfast ready to go has to be the best feeling in the morning when you are in a rush. You can have breakfast half-ready all week long by simmering one and a half cups of steel-cut oats in four cups of water and a pinch of salt for three minutes before turning off the heat. Once the mixture comes to room temperature, place the oatmeal in an airtight container. You should get about five servings.
Bonus Tip: Save even more time in the morning by packing the oatmeal into five individual containers and adding your favorite toppings. Before heading out the door, add a splash of water or milk to one jar, and reheat in the microwave.
Eggs are also on the top of my list for meal prep foods. You can prepare eggs in a couple of ways that will last you through the week. You can boil a bunch of eggs and store them in the fridge, with their shells still on. These come in handy for breakfast to add to a muffin or for lunch to add to your salads or sandwiches.
Bonus Tip: When hard-boiling eggs, refrain from peeling them until you need them so that they keep for the full week. However you prepare your egg, protect them from absorbing smells and flavors from other foods in the fridge by keeping them in separate cartons or airtight containers.
Who’s a fan of brown rice? As for meal prepping start out by rinsing one cup of short-grain brown rice in cold water. Add the rice to one and a half cups of boiling water and cook for about 30 minutes, covered. Let it sit for another 10 minutes before opening and fluffing with a fork. Cool, then store in shallow, airtight containers. You should get about five half-cup servings.
Bonus Tip: Cooked brown rice will keep for about five days in the fridge. To make it taste fresher, reheat only the portion you need for a given meal during the week. For speedy reheating, place the rice in a microwave-safe dish, sprinkle some water over the top, and cover the dish with a wet paper towel. Nuke on high heat until the rice is back to its steamy, springy self.
A pasta dish can never go wrong, and probably my favorite meal of the week. To prep your pasta, boil 10 ounces of pasta according to package directions for about 8 minutes. The pasta should be shy of al dente. You will want it to be slightly under-cooked so that it’s not mushy when you reheat it during the week. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Toss the pasta in a splash of olive oil and place it into a tightly sealed container. You should have about five one-cup servings.
Bonus Tip: You can make your pasta last longer by storing it separately from sauces and meats. For a fast reheating option, bring a pot of water to a boil. Put your pasta in a metal strainer and dip it into the boiling water for about thirty seconds, or until it’s warmed through but not soggy.
Hmmmm, good old sweet potatoes go perfect as a side dish. Scrub five or six sweet potatoes and oven-bake them whole, wrapped in foil, with their peels on. Once baked and cooled, put them in a plastic bag or a glass container and place in the fridge. You now have one ready to go for every day of the week, whether you cut, roast, mash, or simply reheat and eat whole.
Bonus Tip: Baked sweet potatoes will last up to 10 days in the fridge, but if you can’t use them all up within the week, they can easily be frozen for four to six months without sacrificing taste. Simply wrap them in plastic, place into Ziploc bags, and freeze. Next time you need your sweet potato fix, pop the frozen spud into the microwave for two to four minutes until it’s good and warm.
Chicken has to be the easiest and quickest meal to prepare. I normally buy chicken tenderloins but a whole chicken will also do. Season your chicken and bake it in a 360-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Once baked, let it cool slightly, then divide three-ounce cuts into multiple airtight containers. Since cooked chicken can’t quite last the full week in the fridge, cut up anything you’ll use after day four and place in individual freezer bags. Then freeze until it’s time to eat.
Bonus Tip: Chicken breasts may be the leanest, but for meal-prep purposes, thighs may be a better bet; their slightly higher fat content means they won’t become as dry in the fridge, plus they’re cheaper! Remember that it’s safest to reheat chicken only once, so warm up only the amount you plan to eat. Chicken is best reheated the way it was cooked, so spread the pieces on a cookie sheet, cover with aluminum foil, and place in a preheated 450-degree oven for about 10 minutes.
Finally, I personally also like to have ground beef handy as it goes well with many meals. Warm up a skillet, then add the meat, cooking it until it’s evenly browned. Once cooled, pack three-ounce portions into several airtight containers. Like chicken, ground meat won’t last longer than four days in the fridge, so pack anything you’ll use after day four into freezer bags, squeezing out as much air as possible before sealing and freezing. Use the meat for pasta sauce, tacos, and casseroles.
Bonus Tip: Ground meat lasts longer cooked than raw, so be sure to remove it from the store packaging and cook it as soon as possible once you’ve brought it home. Make your frozen ground meat last longer by thawing it in the fridge rather than a microwave—doing so will keep the meat safe to use for an additional two days.
What’s your favorite food for meal-prepping? Share your story.
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