A few weeks ago, our nutritionist expert Karin Von Zelowitz taught us about meal planning and how to incorporate it for a smooth week ahead. This week, Karen goes one step further and talks food prepping to simplify your life even more!
Once meal planning has become a routine for you (click here if you want to learn how to meal plan), take it a step further and start food prepping. The benefits? More free time during the week, meals are quicker to assemble, and less stress in your life! Who isn’t on board with that?
Meal planning and food prepping is an amazing way to simplify your life AND keep you and your family healthy! You go from off-the-cuff last-minute ideas to being in control and having something healthy on hand all the time. As with meal planning, you need to set aside the time during your week and get organized (try the same time every week to form this great habit). Once you get a routine going, you’ll never look back!
The following is a list of foods that are easy to prepare and store well in the fridge for at least a couple of days:
- Fruit: Wash in advance so you just pick up and eat
- Vegetables: Rinse and chop up
- Vegetables: Roast, let cool, store in container in fridge
- Pasta, couscous, rice, bulgur, other grains: Cook large batch, let cool, store in container in fridge
- Tuna or chicken salads: Assemble large batch, store in container in fridge
- Make dips and sauces like hummus, tzatziki, dressings, pesto, tomato sauce
- Cook beans, lentils and peas, let cool, store in fridge
- Soups and stews are great for making in advance
- Bolognese, lasagna, meatballs, chilli and casseroles are great too! Try my turkey zucchini patties here!
- Cheese: Grate and chop up
- Quiche and pies: Bake them and just heat up when ready
- Boiled eggs: Make a dozen, store in fridge
- Grilled chicken: Bake as many as you can fit in a roasting pan, stick in the oven at 420 degrees F (10 minutes each side), let cool, store in container in fridge
- Make small bags of trail mix for easy quick snack on the go
- Overnight oats are great breakfast option
Here’s my beginner’s guide to food prepping:
- Get out your weekly menu if you have one. If you don’t, get started with a few familiar recipes you are totally comfortable making. Make a list of what parts of your weekly menu you can prep in advance and start with one or two items to begin with.
- Start slowly! If you start by prepping too much you might get overwhelmed and never try it again. Starting slow means boiling half a dozen eggs, washing and chopping up vegetables, cleaning your fruits. Then the following week do a bit more, using your weekly menu as a guideline.
- Do several things at the same time. Cook something in the oven, a few things on the stove, chop vegetables while things are cooking, rinse the fruit, make snack bags, prepare pie crust, etc.
- Double or triple your recipes, especially if you make soups, casseroles, stews or burgers. It doesn´t take much extra time when you are doing it and you will have a meal ready in the freezer for a busy day.
- Invest in some good food containers to store everything you make for the week.
- Whether you eat your breakfast and lunch at home or take it to work, make a large batch of each to last you at least three or four mealtimes. There is nothing wrong with eating the same type of breakfast and lunch every day or several days in a row. A great plan ahead breakfast idea is overnight oats for example. Lunches that are easy to make ahead include chicken and tuna salads, grains with chicken and roasted vegetables (mix them all together in a Tupperware if you are headed to work – yum!).
- If you don’t currently take your lunch to work, it’s worth considering for many reasons: usually your food will be healthier than a restaurant/cafeteria meal if you choose whole foods, you control the portion size as well as the ingredients, and you save money for sure!
- Some foods are better prepared on the spot, and not in advance: seafood, risotto, egg dishes (scrambled eggs, omelettes are best done at last minute) to name a few.
I hope this has inspired you to get organized with meal planning and meal prepping. I guarantee once you get going with both of these routines, your life will feel lighter, simpler and definitely more stress free! Happy prepping!
Karin von Zelowitz is a certified dietician and nutritionist. A resident of New Jersey where she now lives with her two children and husband, Karin is originally from Sweden. Prior to becoming a nutritionist, she was the personal chef to the Swedish Ambassador to Switzerland for six years. Visit her site on www.nordichealthandwellness.com.