Meal Prep 101

I’ll be honest with you. I HATE cooking. If I ever won the lottery, the first thing I would do is hire a personal chef. I’m also the World’s Pickiest Eater. In college I survived on pasta, microwaved veggies, grilled cheese, and $1 pizza Mondays at Rogan’s Corner. It’s a miracle I didn’t graduate 200 pounds overweight. Now, I cook a majority of my meals with fresh ingredients every week.

I’m here to tell you that meal prepping DOES NOT have to be hard. It doesn’t have to take up your entire day. Believe me, I’m a lazy cook, so I take whatever shortcuts I can find. My preps usually take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour…but NO MORE! I think everyone can sacrifice one hour of their week! Here are some of my go-to tactics:

1) Develop a ritual, and stick to it.
My ritual is that I cook my dinners for the entire week on Monday afternoons. I have been doing this every  Monday for about a year. Yes, it will be hard at first, but once you get into a routine and continuously stick to it for a few weeks, it will become normal. Now, when I don’t cook on Mondays, I feel like my whole week gets thrown out of whack. Your ritual can be anything that works for you-maybe Sundays are better cooking days, or maybe you prefer to cook in the mornings before work. Pick something and do it for a few weeks. If it doesn’t work, try something else.

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2) Invest in cool gadgets.
My roommates are always commenting on all my kitchen toys. I told you, I’m a lazy cook! Some things I love that I would 100% recommend include a vegetable spiralizer, a Nutribullet, and an egg steamer. Vegetable spiralizer not only turns veggies into spaghetti-like noodles (my fave are zucchini noodles, aka zoodles), but if you don’t feel like chopping veggies, just spiralize them! Besides, salads look way cooler with carrot and cucumber spirals! Nutribullet is obviously great for smoothies, but it’s also good for making dips, dressings, and pancake batter! And the egg steamer….oh my god, seriously the best investment I’ve ever made. It’s a small machine that can hard-boil 6 eggs at once. You can also make omelettes, scrambled eggs, and over-easy eggs in it!

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L-R: Egg steamer (pink, duh), Nutribullet, and Spiralizer!

 

3) Package smart.
You’re going to want to buy good quality tupperwear for meal prepping. It makes a big difference in keeping your food fresh for the entire week. I keep up to 4 containers in the fridge at a time, and that lasts me a week. Everything stays fresh, I just pop the containers in the microwave when I’m ready to eat them. However, I learned the hard way that some things do not keep well. For example, I used to pre-cut and package cucumber slices in plastic baggies. By Thursday, my baggies were just full of mush. Moral of the story? Cucumber doesn’t sit well. Now, I just slice my cucumber fresh each morning.

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4) The microwave is your friend.
Frozen veggies are just as healthy as fresh ones! I only buy fresh veggies to use in my omelettes and to snack on. For my meal prep, it’s always frozen, bagged veggies that I just pop in the microwave. Just be careful that you aren’t buying veggies in sauce or that are pre-seasoned. These can have super high sodium content!

5) Speaking of seasonings….
Be creative! People always ask me why I don’t get bored of eating the same thing every week. Well….it’s because I DON’T eat the same thing every week! Yes, it’s usually chicken but I play around with seasonings and marinades to keep it interesting. Just be sure to buy low-sodium or sodium-free, and watch the calorie and fat counts on marinades and dressings. Lite salad dressing (Italian, Balsamic, or even Caesar) actually tastes amazing on chicken!

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I recently made an Asian Chicken stir-fry using these!

Some last thoughts…
-ground meat (chicken/turkey/beef) cooks way faster
-cook-in-the-bag rice will make your life 100x easier
-cook your quinoa and rice in low-sodium chicken broth instead of water….trust
-pre-cut your omelette veggies to make your mornings go smoother
-Stop and Shop sells eggs in a pack of 2.5 dozen (that’s 30 eggs)
-if meat is on sale, buy a ton and freeze what you don’t use
-protein ice cubes (protein powder + almond milk in an ice cube tray) prevent watered-down shakes if you make them in blender like I do!

 

I actually enjoy meal prepping now, and I hope that you will too! Do you have any tricks you use? I would love to hear them!

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