meal prep hacks

 

So, You’re on board with a “whole foods” lifestyle, great! Now if you could only find the time to make it happen…

My secret to success is meal prep. That means I designate a time to cook large amounts of healthy food ahead of time, with a plan to use it throughout the week. That way, when I’ve spent the afternoon running my darlings from tae-kwon-do to dance lessons, I don’t have empty plates staring me in the face when I get home, or feel the temptation to fill them with something quick and processed.

Below, you’ll find a list of some very helpful tactics for preparing meals for the whole week:

  1. Stock up on seasonal veggies:

Winter? Try Brussels sprouts. Spring? Broccoli and asparagus. Summer? Zucchini! Whatever the season, load up on veggies on your weekly trip to the store. Most veggies do really well when baked or steamed – when you cook them this way, they maintain their integrity and can even be used again for breakfast the next day! Throw them into the kiddo’s omelets for longer and sustained blood sugar levels.

If you think broccoli is boring… it’s not true! Check out these mouth-watering solutions to the broccoli blues:

http://www.sarahwilson.com/2013/12/five-surprising-broccoli-recipes/

  1. Cook double or triple batches of grains:

I like to prepare a big batch of brown rice or quinoa, which of lasts for 2 or 3 days. These grains are perfect in wraps or egg sandwiches (that can be prepped ahead of time – wink, wink) for a quick and accessible afternoon snack. This is a brilliant way to ensure you have nutrient-dense foods on hand when the parade of hungry mouths comes home.

Here are two quinoa recipes I use often:

https://food52.com/recipes/18012-quinoa-salad-with-hazelnuts-apple-and-dried-cranberries

https://food52.com/recipes/14244-quinoa-and-kale-crustless-quiche

Another great “health hack” is to combine your leftover veggies with your leftover grains. Add a little protein and SHAZAAM – you have a one-container meal that you can carry with you on your busy day. Now a nourishing lunch is easily within arms reach!

These are some of my personal favorite combinations:

http://goop.com/ingenious-noodle-pot-lunch-recipes/

  1. Dips and Spreads:

Dips are a great vehicle to deliver a low sugar, high protein punch. Hummus and guacamole are mainstays in my household. Hummus is an excellent source of lean protein that will keep you satisfied until dinnertime, and guacamole is loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats that provide fuel for both body and mind.

I like to prepare my own guacamole and hummus, and I’ve included some links to recipe variations that see frequent use in my kitchen. You can also buy ready-made versions, but be sure to read the ingredients – sometimes there are sugars and preservatives lurking in the mix.

https://food52.com/recipes/18251-roberto-santibanez-classic-guacamole

https://iquitsugar.com/a-foolproof-hummus-recipe-4-variations/

  1. Load up on snack bags: 

Far too often, the food choices we make are based on what’s available instead of what’s best. Come prepared with your own snack bags, so that when hunger strikes, you are more than ready! Trail mix is always a good choice, but store bought mixes have candy and added sugar, so opt for a homemade version. Nuts, seeds, seaweed snacks, chia seeds, granola, brown rice crackers, and organic popcorn are all great ingredients. Personally, I have a bag of mixed nuts, seeds, and carob in my purse right now.

Here’s a recipe for (in my opinion) the best granola ever:

http://goop.com/recipes/homemade-granola/

  1. Prepare a batch of homemade dressing:

Dressings and sauces tend to be the biggest culprits of hidden sugars and preservatives. Even store bought dressings that tout their healthful properties are often LOADED with sugar. Making your own salad dressing is so simple! I promise a yummy homemade version is worth the extra few minutes it takes to prepare. I often combine olive oil, lemon, apple cider vinegar, mustard, avocado, and/or tahini. When it comes to homemade dressings, the possibilities are endless.

Here are some great recipes I like to use:

http://kriscarr.com/recipe/delightfully-green-tahini-dressing/

http://goop.com/recipes/yogurt-tahini-dressing/

http://goop.com/recipes/salad-with-carrot-ginger-dressing/

With a little bit of preparation, having healthy meals throughout the week doesn’t have to be a giant chore. If you dedicate a little time one day a week, you can boost your whole family’s health at every meal!