A client once said, “I eat a lot more vegetables when my fridge is full of them.”
The simple truth is: when your refrigerator is stocked with balanced and energy-enhancing foods, you are more likely to eat balanced and energizing meals. This is what I call staging, or setting up, your kitchen for success.
Now, if you plan ahead and put in a little effort up front, you can make “I have nothing to eat” a thing of the past. Just shop once, chop once, and eat all week. It’s that easy! Here are five simple steps to help you meal prep for a healthy week.
1) Set aside at about 3 hours – start to finish.
Commit a few hours each Sunday (or day most convenient for you) to prep your kitchen.
2) Review your calendar.
Jot down the number of days you will be eating at home that week. This will give you an idea of how much to buy. For example, if you are entertaining clients two nights during the week and going away on the weekend, purchase less.
3) Shop accordingly.
Assess what you have in your pantry, freezer and refrigerator, then make a list of what you need to purchase. (See Step 4 for inspiration.) If you don’t have time to visit the grocery store, consider placing a grocery delivery order using Instacart, Peapod, or Amazon Pantry.
4) Get your hands dirty.
Turn raw ingredients into ready-to-eat foods that you can combine or use to make balanced meals. By definition, a balanced meal contains 50% produce, 25% protein and 25% whole grain or complex starch. TIP: Keep that in mind when building your meals at home or while dining out! Here are ideas of foods to have on hand:
Prep a basic salad (ex: favorite greens + favorite nut + crunchy vegetables like carrots, red onion and bell pepper. Keep the dressing on the side until you’re ready to eat it.)
Wash, peel and slice four of your favorite vegetables (ex: cucumbers, carrot sticks, celery and cauliflower) to create an everyday veggie tray.
Roast a baking dish full of veggies (ex squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus)
Spiralize zucchini into zucchini noodles
Peel 6-8 clementines and store in an air-tight container
Purchase healthy convenience foods like shredded carrots, zucchini noodles, coleslaw mix to save time
Bake 1-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
Hard boil 1/2 eggs
Cook lentils (1 cup lentils + 2 cups water + bay leaf; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes)
Open, rinse & drain 1 can of beans
WHOLE GRAINS/COMPLEX STARCH
Make quinoa (1 cup dry quinoa + 2 cups water; cover and simmer for 14 mins)
Cook box of brown rice pasta; toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil and store in air-tight container.
Roast whole sweet potatoes
Stock freezer with frozen brown rice & quinoa, as back-up
5) Build meals.
Once you have prepped your produce, proteins and whole grains, you can mix and match the ingredients to make the following meals in a snap: