Meal Prep 101: More Pre-Cut Veggies, Less Time

@mealpreponfleek

Linda Arrandta, integrative nutrition and health coach, gives us her tips on how to make healthy cooking easy. Check her out on Instagram @simpleandwell.

There is no wrong way to spend your Sunday—whether you’re relaxing on the couch or going on a jog, these are all ways that you’re getting ready, mentally and physically for the week ahead. My favorite way to spend Sundays is grocery shopping and meal prepping for the family. We’re busy people, but taking some time on Sunday to plan and prepare the meals saves a load of unnecessary stress for the rest of the week.

Grocery shopping and meal prepping for a whole week in one day sounds daunting, but I promise you that it’s both simple and enjoyable. It’s a healthier and more budget-friendly alternative to eating takeout! Here’s how I do it:

  1. Look through your fridge and remove the old or expired food. Wash the Tupperware containers and throw away the old fruits and vegetables that didn’t make it into your recent meals.
  1. Make a grocery list based on a meal plan for the week. (Here’s an example meal plan to get you started!) Be sure to ask your household if there are any special meals or ingredients they want you to buy—it’ll make mealtime much more enjoyable for everyone!
  1. Next, armed with your grocery list and meal plan, set out to the supermarket. If you’re lucky enough to live by a farmer’s market, I recommend heading there first for the freshest, local produce.

Easy Tip #1: Try to buy your produce twice a week for the freshest ingredients possible.

Easy Tip #2: If you live near one and have a membership, Costco is a great place to buy protein options like organic chicken and wild-caught salmon in bulk. You can also find a wide array of organic fruits and vegetables there, too.

Easy Tip #3: Shop the periphery of the grocery store, where you will find fresh produce instead of processed food items. Avoid the center aisles if you can—that’s where the sugary cereals are!

  1. Time to unpack and organize! My kitchen is chaotic while I’m meal prepping, but there are ways to keep your mess under control. The moment I get home from shopping, I put my produce by the sink. I put everything else in the fridge or pantry. If you can, ask a family member to help out with the organizing.
  1. Cut your vegetables into finger-sized pieces for snacking. Put them on the counter when the kids come home. Keep some guacamole on hand for dipping. You won’t be missing the potato chips.
  2. Chop the staples—onions, carrots, and celery—for quick sautés and soup bases. If you’re short on time, you can buy pre-cut vegetables from most well stocked grocery stores, like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. You will pay a premium on them, but it’ll be worth it if it helps you get your daily vegetable intake.

Easy Recipe #1

  • Grill organic chicken tenders (I use Belle & Evans) with Trader Joe’s Garlic and Salt spice grinder and olive oil.
  • You can put the chicken over your favorite green salad combination or eat plain as a quick protein-filled snack.
  • For this particular meal, I turned them into chicken lettuce wraps. I washed butter lettuce, chopped some ripe avocadoes, bought some precut jicama (I decided the luxury was worth the convenience) and took out the cauliflower and broccoli that I had precut the day before. Feel free to use any vegetables you have on hand!
  • Drizzle them with olive oil, Himalayan salt, and pepper, and roast them in the over at 375 degrees for 20 to 35 minutes.
  • In the last few moments of roasting, switch the oven setting to broil (if you can!) and take the vegetables out when they brown a little.
  • When the meal is over, scoop the leftovers into small Tupperware containers for easy snacking.

Easy Recipe #2: Egg Bake

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Ingredients:

  • 8-10 Organic, Omega Eggs  1 medium chopped onion
  • 1 package of turkey bacon
  • 1 cup well chopped broccoli (I use yesterday’s cooked leftovers)
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup assorted chopped colored papers
  • 1 bag of pre-washed spinach
  • Himalayan salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional: cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place onion and olive oil in a sauté pan and cook until translucent. Chop the turkey bacon and add to onion until cooked through. Add the other veggies including raw broccoli (if using precooked broccoli, add later). When veggies are cooked through add spinach and turn off heat. Let spinach wilt by putting cover over pan. Meanwhile, Beat the eggs in a bowl. Use olive oil spray and coat an 8X8 glass Pyrex dish. Add cooked mixture to the eggs. Add seasoning and stir. Pour in coated dish. Bake at 325 for 25-35 minutes. Check to see if it is cooked through the middle. If not, cook longer to set middle. Let cool and slice into squares.

Note: This recipe can be varied: use different vegetables; add cheese, sausage, etc. I often use Applegate Farms Chicken Apple Sausage. It gives the Egg Bake great flavor. It is a great grab and go snack or meal and can also be frozen for later use.

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