Make Eating Healthy Easier, Start Small!
Preparing meals can be a challenge for anyone, whether it’s finding the time to cook or researching nutritious and delicious recipes. While one of the most beneficial activities you can do when trying to control your nutrition, meal prep definitely has its fair share of challenges. Whether you're struggling with managing your time, buying the right ingredients, recipe discovery, or just aren't sure where to start, we've put together a few tips for making meal prep easier and more enjoyable.
You can also read our post about the benefits of meal prep and how it can help you save money, time, and control your nutrition and build better healthy eating habits here. So even if you're not doing the full meal prep thing just yet, here are some small tips to help you cut down on time in the kitchen:
Preparing snacks for the week ahead is an excellent way to stay healthy, save time, and save money. It's also a great way to get your feet wet with meal prep if you've never done it before! Having healthy snacks prepared and ready to go can help you avoid unhealthy convenience snacks, and provide you with nutritious meals throughout the day. Here is a list of 8 great healthy snacks for work or school:
Trail mix – A great mix of nuts, seeds, dried fruit and a few dark chocolate chips.
Hard-boiled eggs – A great source of protein and healthy fats.
Popcorn – Air-popped popcorn is a great snack to munch on (skip the bagged, super buttery versions)
Fruit salad – A great way to get your daily dose of vitamins and antioxidants
Greek yogurt – Low in fat and full of protein and probiotics.
Hummus and veggie sticks – A great way to get in those veggies.
Smoothie – A great way to get a nutrient-dense snack in a hurry.
Nut butter and banana sandwich – A great source of healthy fats and carbs.
If you're not into prepping 3-5 days of meals in a singular setting, that's totally understandable! One way you can help cut down on time spent in the kitchen and the grocery store is by planning your meals for the week ahead.
This is the first step of meal prep, anyways, so this is a good learning step for you to get started if you're not quite ready to start with meal prep. The biggest benefit? That conversation you have with your kids or your spouse of "What are we having for dinner?" just got so much easier!
This is a super easy one but can be a great time saver throughout the week, especially if you know your after-work/school schedule is a bit more hectic. Pre-cut the veggies or fruits for your meals in one sitting!
Let's say you've got meals coming up with cut tomatoes, onions, or peppers on the plan for the week. If you spend 30 minutes on the weekend (or even during prep for dinner on Monday) cutting all those veggies, dinner gets served a little faster in the coming days. Here's a list of how long the most common vegetables will last you in the refrigerator!
Carrots - 4-5 days Celery - 5-7 days Cauliflower - 4-5 days Cucumber - 7-10 days Broccoli - 4-5 days Kale - 5-7 days Spinach - 5-7 days Mushrooms - 5-7 days Bell peppers - 7-10 days Tomatoes - 7-10 days Asparagus - 4-5 days Zucchini - 5-7 days Sweet potatoes - 4-5 days
USE A SLOW COOKER
Many of us are familiar with slow cookers, but this incredible kitchen gadget can help when the kids have soccer practice, you have to work late, or any other number of things that are bound to pop up on our schedules.
Head over to Pinterest and search for your favorite recipes to help you get going with a slow cooker! Some of the most popular slow cooker recipes include pulled pork or chicken recipes, chicken and dumplings, beef stew, mac & cheese, or even lasagna!
What's even better? You can prep these meals too! Stick all the ingredients in a freezer-safe bag and just throw it all in the slow cooker on your way out the door and then return home with a delicious, homemade meal ready to eat.
DOUBLE UP ON A MEAL
Eating something delicious this week? Plan the same thing two nights in a row (yes, that's acceptable) and just make twice as much so you and the family have enough for two meals!
BONUS: TRY A MEAL PREP SERVICE
With so many people putting a higher emphasis on healthy eating, many meal prep companies have come up to help alleviate the burden of meal prep or cooking in the kitchen. If you're not quite ready to try meal prep for yourself or don't quite have the energy for it, try out a meal prep service. Note that many of these services do have cook-ready meals, so if you're looking for something quick that you can toss in the microwave, be sure to check the instructions before getting started.
Many of these meals are made ready by expert chefs and nutritionists, making them great healthy alternatives to eating out! Here's a list of some of the top meal prep services on the market today (these suggestions are not paid partnerships):
Sun Basket is a great meal delivery service that offers meal plans that cater to different dietary needs, such as paleo, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian, as well as family-friendly, lean & clean, and Mediterranean. All of their meals are pre-prepared and only require minimal cooking.
The pricing plans at Sun Basket are quite affordable. Plans are available for two or four people and start at $9.99 per serving.* They also offer a two-person plan with organic ingredients!
HelloFresh is a popular meal delivery service that offers a variety of meal plans to suit different dietary preferences and lifestyle needs, including Classic, Veggie, Family, and Rapid. They have meal plans for singles, couples, and families, and all of their meals are pre-prepared and only require minimal cooking.
Each HelloFresh meal plan offers a range of different recipes and serves two or four people. Their pricing plans vary based on the number of meals and people the plan is for but range from $9.79 to $12.49 per serving.*
Blue Apron offers meal plans for a variety of dietary preferences, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. All of their meals are pre-prepared and only require minimal cooking. They also offer a variety of cooking classes and resources to help you get the most out of your meals.
While meal prep may be intimidating for you and the family right now, you can still take small steps to make your life and nutrition a bit easier. Check out our blog for more on meal prep and how it can help you reach your health and fitness goals.
*Pricing for meal prep services reflects pricing as of 2/9/2023.