Food Prep for an Easier, Healthier Life
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Eating healthfully can be easy - when you are prepared. That is why food prep is so important. When you take a few minutes to prepare your meals and snacks for the week, you can choose cheap, fast, easy and healthy because it is already in your fridge. Here are some tips to make food prepping a snap:
Plan Ahead and Follow Through
Take a few minutes during the week or at the start of your weekend to think about what foods you would like to have the next week. Write them down, including the recipes and ingredients. When you go to the grocery store, stick to your list. Then set aside some time to create the delicious menu you designed for yourself and your family. (More on that to come.)
Pick and Choose
You do not necessarily have to food prep all your meals at once or all of your meals for the week. Food only lasts 3-5 days in the fridge, so you may not want to cook a ton of food unless you plan to freeze some of it to reheat later. If you prefer to eat out with your friends at lunch, don't bother to prep your lunches - focus on breakfast and dinner. You also don't have to cook it all at one time. You could choose a weekend day and one evening, or use a crockpot, and cook enough for leftovers later. Do what works for you.
Breakfast can be hard boiled eggs, egg "muffins," overnight oats or smoothies. To start your day with a little protein, hard boiled eggs can be made ahead of time and last the work week in the fridge. Egg "muffins" are made in a muffin tin, and can be created to suit your tastes - eggs, turkey bacon or sausage, chopped veggies and low-fat cheese are a few of the options you have for your breakfast muffins. Try this recipe from Cooking Light. Overnight oats are an easy combination of rolled oats and a variety of options to create yummy mixtures for a filling breakfast. Some recipes can be found on the Food Network. You can throw together bags full of flavorful ingredients and freeze them for use as smoothies in the morning. These are breezy ways to make your morning smoother and healthier. For some recipes, see this article from Real Simple.
If you want to bring your lunch to work, you will save big bucks - and your waistline - in the long run. There are many options out there, but two easy ones are Mason Jar Salads and Veggie-Grain-Protein (Buddha) Bowls.Use a mason jar or other container to pile up your salad ingredients. For inspiration, see these ideas from Good Housekeeping. For your Veggie-Grain-Protein Bowls (sometimes called Buddha Bowls), there again are lots of options. Use steamed broccoli, carrots, kale, or a variety of other choice vegetables and combine with quinoa, brown rice, millet, or another wholesome high fiber grain. Top those off with grilled salmon or chicken or sautéed tofu for a filling and healthy bowl. This Roasted Veggie Buddha Bowl from Food Network is a good example.
Dinner can be the most harried meal. Just home from work, tired, what do we do for dinner? Rather than using an app to order in, you could walk in to an inviting aroma thanks to your crockpot meal that you prepped. By taking time during the weekend to cut up veggies and combine ingredients, you can have meals that go from your freezer to the crockpot in the morning. A home-cooked dinner awaits your return, and there will most likely be leftovers for lunch or another dinner. For some great ideas, check out these combinations from Allrecipes.com. At the very least, you can cut up veggies and have meats marinating ahead of time so they are ready to be thrown in the oven when you get home.
When you want a snack, you usually want it N-O-W! Fast and easy is the key. When you take the time over the weekend to portion out snacks and cut up and put veggies and fruit in single serve containers, you have healthy snacks when you need them in just the right amount. For some ideas, see this article from Self.com.
Food prepping can be easy when you take the time to do it. We hope that these tips are useful. For additional resources and more ideas, stop by the UM BWMC Nutrition table at Heartbeat for Heath on February 22, 2020. We'd love to give you more ideas and hear what you do to food prep.
We also offer Dietitian Services at the Digestive Health Center. Learn more on our website: https://www.umms.org/bwmc/health-services/dietitian.