We scoured the internet to bring you the best tips and tricks for mastering the art of meal prep. As you’ve heard countless times before, meal prep could be your key to success. In fact, one study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine suggests that spending time on preparing and cooking meals at home is linked with better dietary habits. The main reason is that it requires you to understand what you’re eating and the quantities in which you eat it. Not only can meal prep save your waistline, it can save you time and money (two things most people could use more of). Read on for our favorite hacks for making meal prep easier and more enjoyable. And always remember — if you fail to plan, plan to fail.
Basic Meal Prep How-To
- Buy good quality Tupperware and create a labeling system specific to your dietary needs (breakfast, snack 1, lunch, snack 2, dinner).
- Choose the number of days you want to meal prep for based on your schedule. Some people can meal prep every two days while others only have time to do it every four days, or just once a week.
- Freeze prepared meals. The night before, take one day’s worth of meals out of the freezer and thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Tips & Tricks
- Add variety by seasoning meat three ways using just one pan.
If you’re sticking to lean meats like chicken, chowing down on the same flavors can get tedious after a while. Save time without boring your taste buds by preparing two or three variations of chicken at once, using aluminum foil dividers in your pan. Sriracha, BBQ, honey mustard — you can have it all. Three birds, one pan! Source: Kevin / Fit Men Cook
- Roast different vegetables with the same cooking time.
Roasting vegetables is a great way to bring out their natural sweetness, but waiting 30 to 40 minutes for each pan to cook can be time-consuming. To prep a large batch of veggies, try pairing them based on roasting time. Fast-cooking vegetables that can bake in the same pan include asparagus, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes; slow-roasting vegetables include carrots, cauliflower, onions, potatoes and parsnips.
- Hard-boil eggs in the oven.
An excellent source of protein, vitamins A and B and healthy fats, eggs should be a staple snack for any health fiend. The problem: You can usually only fit up to five eggs in a pot. To make a delicious dozen in one go, bake your eggs in muffin tins for just 30 minutes. Ta-da! You’ll get a perfectly hard-boiled batch. Pro tip: Do a small test run first to ensure your oven doesn’t run too hot or too cold before cooking a full pan of eggs. Source: Lindsay / The Lean Green Blog
- Make use of mason jars.
Mason jars have countless uses in meal prep. Two of our favorites are using them to customize healthy (not soggy) salads and delicious oatmeal mixtures.
Fiber-rich foods like oatmeal are ideal for keeping you satiated until lunchtime, but most packets have lots of added sugar and unnatural preservatives. If you DIY and use portable glass jars, you’ll control exactly what and how much you’re eating. From “monkey mix” to “raspberries and dark chocolate,” these genius flavor combinations will keep your taste buds happy, too. Source: Rachel / Clean Food Crush
You can also use mason jars for overnight oats. “Overnight oats require no cooking, and you can make big batches at the beginning of the week that will last through Friday! All you have to do is combine rolled oats with liquid like skim milk, almond milk, or yogurt, let it sit overnight, then add your choice of fruit or nuts in the morning. Just make sure you use double the amount of liquid for every serving of oats and stir them up before you eat." - Carolyn Alish, Ph.D., R.D.
If you think salad from home is a no-go because it always gets soggy, think again. Using a glass jar will save your veggies from getting mucky before lunchtime. Put your dressing at the bottom of the jar, layering sturdier produce like cucumbers and peppers, and then saving any leafy greens or grains up top. Put a paper towel square at the top to absorb moisture if you’re storing the salad for multiple days. Source: Carmen Sturdy / Life by Daily Burn
- Freeze blended smoothies in muffin tins or bag ingredients in advance
Never have the time to measure out a million fixings for a morning sip? Save time by buying the ingredients in bulk, blending your favorite beverage, and then freezing the mixture in muffin tips. Next time you need a shake, toss two or three “smoothie cups” in a blender for a quick and easy breakfast. Source: Matt / Muffin Tin Mania
If you aren’t a fan of the “pre-blending” idea, you can also just bag up your smoothie ingredients ahead of time. Just pre-assemble your smoothie ingredients in a Ziploc and freeze.
- Utilize frozen produce
Bags of frozen broccoli and blueberries aren’t just convenient, they’re surprisingly nutritious. According to 2013 research from the University of Chester in England, the vast majority of frozen produce is higher in antioxidants and other nutrients than fresh produce. For instance, in the study, frozen carrots were found to have about three times the lutein and twice the beta-carotene, as well as greater levels of vitamin C and polyphenols, compared with their fresh counterparts. “They are picked at their peak of freshness and flash frozen so they don’t lose nutrition during transport from farm to store,” says Jaime Mass, RDN, LDN. “They are nutritious and can help keep you on track when prep time isn’t plentiful.” Source: Livestrong.com
And don’t forget, taking EnduraQ with other antioxidants and flavonoids will increase it’s effectiveness. That means you’ll experience more fat loss, an even faster metabolism, reduced recovery time, increased exercise endurance, and reduced allergies!
- Invest in your kitchen appliances.
When it comes to meal prep, and cooking in general, food processors and slow-cookers can maximize your time and drastically increase the quality of your meals. Enjoying your meals more will also help you stick to your meal-prepping plans for the long haul. A food processor was one of the 9 must-have kitchen appliances to help with healthy eating and weight loss, according to Registered Dieticians. The rest of the list is also worth checking out!