The Benefits of Meal Prepping
The words ‘food prep’ have really become a bit of a buzz phrase on social media in recent years. Most people tend to equate prepping with extra time on Sunday that should be spent doing more important things like going to brunch, hanging out with family or doing yard work (#adulting). But I’m in the camp that food prep does not have to take hours, so I thought it might be helpful to break down my (much shorter) process and share some of my favorite meal planning shortcuts!
Even spending one solid hour organizing your grocery haul, then prepping some things for the week can have a huge benefit. One strategy you might try is to set a timer for 60 minutes and get as much as possible done in that amount of time. You would be surprised how much you can accomplish.
Rest assured, we aren’t talking about rows of chicken breast, broccoli and brown rice in perfectly lined up plastic containers here. My strategy is to make enough grab and go breakfasts and snacks to keep things simple on weekday mornings, plus chop some of the more time-intensive dinner components. It’s a relatively small amount of time that pays back in a huge way during the busy work week.
Not sure where to start? Here is a sample meal plan with suggestions for food prep that you can do on Sunday.
Sample 5-Day Menu
Monday – 20-Minute Shiitake Mushroom Ramen (meatless Monday!)
Wednesday – Spiced Chickpea and Kale Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Thursday – Simple Grilled Salmon, Rice, Vegetable
Friday – Vegged Out Game-Day Nachos
Your Sunday Meal Prep Checklist
Make Breakfast Easier
Make a batch of hard-boiled eggs, prep overnight oats, and chop fruits/veggies for smoothie packs that you can keep in the freezer and then just add liquid when ready to blend
Prep Your Grains
For this particular week, make a big batch of brown rice (time-intensive on a week night) and simply re-heat when needed. This can also be used for grain bowls at lunch!
Wash and Chop Vegetables
Think about what you have planned and prep it if it won’t wilt or brown. Similarly, wash fresh herbs, wrap in a paper towel and store in a large zip top bag.
Two tasks for this week:
- Spiralize the zucchini for Tuesday’s dish
- Slice peppers and onions for sautéing later
It’s also smart to chop fresh veggies for easy snacking before dinner when you need something to munch on. I like carrots, celery and red bell pepper and keep them next to hummus in the fridge. These are perfect for pre-dinner snacking – just enough to tide your hunger without totally spoiling your appetite.
Wash and chop any fruit that needs to be prepped, like melon or strawberries. If you do this ahead of time and you can just grab and go, you’ll be much more likely to reach for it.
Make any sauces or dressings
In this case, make the peanut sauce and store in a jar for later. Trust me, you’ll want to pour this over everything!
Kitchen Equipment to Make Meal Prep Easier
Invest in some high-quality food storage containers because as silly as it sounds, stained and warped containers might make you shy away from packing your lunch as often as you might otherwise.
I like these pyrex ones (affiliate link) and use them daily for leftovers and/or packing my food for the day. I love that they are microwave and dishwasher safe because hand-washing dishes is pretty much my least favorite chore.
Taking time to do all of these food prep tasks when you already have cutting boards and knives out and dirtied is a huge time saver. Plus, sometimes it can be hard to find motivation to cook after a long day of work. The less steps your dinner involves, the more likely you are to actually make it. Always make the healthy choice the easy choice! By setting yourself up for success you’ll be much more likely to stay on track with your plan.
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