Meal prep — it’s something we all know we should do, but very few of us actually do.
What’s stopping us?
One big block is time. There’s this misconception that meal prep takes five hours of you sweating, toiling, and cooking on a Sunday afternoon…While meal prepping can look like that, it doesn’t have to. I’m always on a time crunch, and I’ve discovered that there are much easier (and quicker) ways to meal prep — many of which takes less than an hour.
Yup. Sometimes I wake up a little earlier on a Monday morning, meal prep, feel absolutely productive, and let that feeling carry me through the week.
So, how do we integrate quick meal prep?
1. Batch Cook
Literally just cook more of whatever you’re cooking. Making Sunday dinner for the family? Make double or triple the recipe and you’ll have leftovers for the rest of the week. You’re already cooking, so might as well make use of that time!
2. Buy Pre-Chopped Veggies
Pre-chopped veggies are a lifesaver. A big part of meal prepping is the actual “prepping” part, especially if you eat a lot of produce.
I used to spend at least 30 minutes washing, drying, and chopping bunches of kale. Now I just buy the giant pre-cut containers of organic kale, spinach, and arugula from Whole Foods — they often have sales and it saves a ton of time when you’re making salads or other meals.
3. Make Use of Your Freezer
Freezers are another lifesaver. Frozen veggies are cheaper than fresh ones, won’t go bad, and are great to bulk up any meal. You can add them to stir fries, salads, frittatas, or even roast in the oven straight from the freezer.
Same goes with frozen fruit — you can add frozen blueberries to Greek or dairy free yogurt for a quick breakfast or snack.
The ultimate freezer hack? Trader Joe’s frozen turkey and chicken burgers for quick protein. You can defrost in a pan in 2-3 minutes and put it on top of a salad. They have no additives, just salt!
4. Know Your Staples, Then Buy Them and Make Them
Staples for me are canned wild salmon, smoked wild salmon, eggs, organic greens (pre-washed and pre-cut), brussels sprouts, frozen broccoli, frozen cauliflower rice, 100% grass-fed ground beef, organic sweet potatoes, unsweetened dairy free yogurt, frozen berries, avocados, unsweetened dairy free milk, cold brew concentrate/coffee beans.
Have a basic list when you go grocery shopping and know what meals you can easily make out of them.
Here’s an example of what I did one morning:
Preheat the oven. While it’s heating, place 6-8 eggs in a pot with water and boil (for hard boiled eggs).
Chop up sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. Place on a baking sheet and place in the oven to roast.
In a large pot, place ground beef and frozen broccoli. Break up the block of beef, add spices and cover to cook.
Portion out dairy free yogurt into small containers to eat. Portion out organic mixed greens into lunch containers.
Combine canned wild salmon, avocado, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt to make a salmon salad for lunch. Place on top of one salad.
When the eggs are boiling, remove from heat. Let sit for 5 minutes then dump out water and put in an ice bath. Then place in the fridge.
The beef and broccoli should be finished cooking by now; take that out and put it in the fridge. Once the veggies are done roasting, take that out and put it in the fridge.
This combo takes only ~30 minutes and gives you breakfast, some lunches/dinners for the first half of the week!
5. Use Your Slow Cooker
Slow cookers are magical. Or Instant Pots, if you have one. You can have it cook all day and you’ll come home to a delicious dinner.
You can make pretty much anything in a slow cooker, from chili (perfect in the summer), roasts (great in the winter), soups/stews/curries… the possibilities are endless.
Bonus: Use a Meal Prep Company
Ok, this one may seem like cheating, but it’s valid! I’ve tried a couple of meal prep companies and they’re honestly great for saving the maximum amount of time. It’s perfect if you need someone to tell you what to eat and in what amounts. Ray loves Prepped Gainz if you’re looking for somewhere to start!
For more healthy recipes and lifestyle tips, check out Nancy’s blog Approaching Paleo or her instagram @approachingpaleo!