You don’t need to be a professional chef to master the art of preparing and cooking healthy meals. Just follow the three Ps for the perfect healthy meal prep system.
Plan. Prep. Pack.
Plan for Healthy Meals
Time management is key to being able to prep for healthy meals, but before you start waving the white flag of surrender…know that this kind of time management doesn’t require a lot of effort on your part.
These time management tips will help you take control of your eating habits and your daily schedule.
- Designate one hour a week to sit and plan the following week’s meals. If possible, aim for time during the weekend and get your family involved! Kids are more likely to be excited about meals when they have a say in what goes on their plates.
- Plan meals that have similar base ingredients to make it easier to shop for ingredients and quicker to create your meals. For instance, keep free-range eggs in your refrigerator for simple, healthy meals like rancher’s eggs for breakfast and broccoli with poached egg for dinner. You can even twist this dinner idea up by adding canned salmon or tuna to your leftovers another night. Make a frittata later in the week by mixing in fresh veggies with those free-range eggs.
- Add an extra 15 minutes to your day. Whether you wake up 15 minutes earlier or go to bed just 15 minutes later, these few extra minutes will help with the last two skills needed to create health meals: prep and pack. Plus, the extra time may allow you to write out directions on dinner prep for someone else in the family to get cooking if you’re running late.
Prep for Healthy Meals
Designate time for meal assembly. This doesn’t mean you should make a week’s worth of full course meals in one night. It means prepping (slicing, cubing, mincing, or parboiling) any vegetables you’ll need, measuring the ingredients you need per meal, and cooking any meat per meal choice.
Embrace mise en place, the French culinary term for having ingredients prepared and organized ahead of time to allow for highly efficient cooking. In other words, assemble every ingredient, each in its proper measurement, and store them together per meal. The more you do it, the faster and more accurate you’ll become at healthy meal prep.
Consider choosing a slow-cooker recipe for supper on your busiest night of the week, so you can toss the ingredients in together and come home to a ready-to-eat meal in between work and afterschool activities.
So, if you’re planning seven healthy suppers for the week, you should have seven separate “bundles” of prepped ingredients when you finish prepping.
Pack for Healthy Meals
Since you now have a few extra minutes in your day, you have time to pack a healthy lunch. Don’t forget to fill your water bottle before heading out the door to help you stay properly hydrated throughout the day.
Remember, haste can make waste—and waist. Leaving a few extra minutes to thoughtfully choose what you’ll pack will help you avoid bad toss-ins, like sugar-loaded snacks (just because the packaging reads “made with REAL fruit” doesn’t mean its contents are healthy) or sodium-packed lunch meats.
If the idea of planning a healthy meal causes you stress, consider consulting a certified nutritionist for additional ingredient ideas and healthy meal prep tips and tricks.
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