Do you ever dream about not having to make lunches each and every day? Perhaps about a day that your family will actually sit down for dinner together without the stressful scramble to get everyone fed? What about healthy, tasty meals that support health, weight loss and weight maintenance? The answer is pretty simple – and it lies in the art of weekly meal prep!
Why meal prep?
When it comes to preparing meals, the task can often seem a little bit daunting. Even when it isn’t, there’s always the concern about how long food will last or whether it will still actually taste good a few days later (we won’t lie: not all leftovers taste great).
Fortunately, there are certain foods that do taste BETTER over time. With a little planning, meal prep can go a long way in a busy world. To help you get started, we’ve put together the 5 essential foods and food groups you need to know to help transform your week through meal prep!
5 Essential Foods for Meal Prep
We’re all familiar with mushy leftover vegetables (which, let’s be honest, aren’t overwhelmingly appetizing). Fortunately, root vegetables are a great option for meal prep that will stand the test of time and still taste great the next day. Add leftover grated carrots and beets to a salad or wrap; top a salad with leftover stir fried celery and other vegetables; mix mashed turnip with regular mashed potatoes for a twist on a classic starch; use leftover spiralized sweet potato in a frittata; throw leftover roasted parsnip and squash in a soup or casserole. The possibilities are endless!
Beans and lentils
These are a hearty and inexpensive staple perfect for meal prep! Throw leftover legumes on a tossed salad for protein or mix into rice for extra fiber. Tip: add a splash of your favourite vinegar to freshen up canned legumes and save time cooking them from scratch.
You will be amazed at how nicely these reheat. With just a splash of water and a minute or two in the microwave, your leftover grains from last night will taste as good as new. Double up on the amount of cooked grains and freeze in single size servings. Sprinkle some whole grains on a salad with some left over protein for a quick meal.
Lean meats, eggs and poultry
These proteins can last in your fridge for up to three or four days —perfect whether you’re saving them for tomorrow or later in the week. Boil up some eggs and keep them in the fridge for a quick and easy breakfast protein, an egg salad at lunch, or a dinner meal on the run. BBQ a double batch of burgers and freeze leftovers; a burger on a whole grain bun with a tossed salad can serve as a quick meal for busy weeknights.
When in doubt, jazz up a simple meal with a go-to dressing! Find one you love and it can serve as a way to add pizzazz to raw and cooked vegetables, wraps, salad, whole grains, sandwiches or stir fried poultry during the week. Be mindful of added sugars in store-bought versions – experiment with homemade options!
How can I get started with meal prepping?
Here are a few weeknight meals to consider big batch cooking on the weekend that taste just as good (or better) as next-day leftovers:
- Soups: chicken vegetable, beef and bean minestrone, miso – try this recipe for quick chicken soup
- Bowls: lentil and vegetable curry bowl, chicken, bean and rice burrito bowls – try our latest zesty vegan glory bowl recipe
- Chili or stew: white bean and chicken chili, turkey chili, or try this vegetarian sweet potato and lentil stew
- Meatloaf: turkey, beef, or tuna – make a mini version using this simple salmon patty recipe