Do you struggle with finding the time to provide healthy, nutritious meals to your family?
Have you tried meal prepping on Sundays only to waste a whole day cooking and end up throwing away half of the meals you prepped?
Well, if you feel like you’ve tried meal prepping and completely failed or if you’ve never even considered it, but you’re looking for an easy solution to get healthy meals on the table each night, then I have a secret to share with you!
The answer: Food Prepping, not Meal Prepping
The idea is simple. Instead of trying to make a bunch of meals for the week that you aren’t even sure you will want, you just prep a bunch of different food items that you can mix and match into meals. For example, you could make a large batch of rice, quinoa, or beans. You could roast some broccoli, carrots, and potatoes. You could make some dips and dressings. You could also chop a bunch of veggies. Then throughout the week you could make rice bowls, salad bowls, tacos, wraps, or soups.
How to Simplify the Process:
Get Organized - Before meal prepping, make sure you have a plan for the week. How many days are you going to be eating at home? What is your schedule going to be like? What food do you already have on hand? I always recommend looking at what you have already and what you need to use up before going grocery shopping. Once you make a list of what you have, then you will want to decide how you can use those ingredients and create a baseline from there. Check out my meal planning post for my tips & simple process!!
Choose Theme Nights - Next, I recommend choosing theme nights to keep meal time simple. For me, we like to do Sandwich Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Pasta Wednesdays, Salad & Soup Thursdays, and Pizza Fridays. Feel free to get more creative or to not do this at all, but this just give us a baseline for deciding on what to eat for dinner. Once you have an idea of what you’ll be making you can move along to the next tip!
Always Be Prepping - I don’t know about you, but I don’t like having to spend my whole Sunday prepping food. The secret is it doesn’t have to all be done in one day. If one night you make a casserole, double the recipe to freeze for another day. If you are making roasted veggies, make extra to save for lunches. While you are making dinner, chop veggies and fruit for snacks. When you make smoothies, always make extra. You get the point. Always maximize what you are doing and you will always have food ready to go for when you’re exhausted or super busy.
Make Friends with Your Instant-Pot & Crockpot - If you want to save a whole lot of time and maximize your time, use these kitchen tools.
7 Steps to Plant-Based Food Prepping for the Week
Simple Breakfast Staples - Choose two to three simple breakfasts staples as your go-to. Overnight oats and Smoothies are my goto’s and they are so simple and easy to make a batch and rotate throughout the week. Their endless flavor options available for overnight oats and smoothies that you just could never get bored.
Chop, Chop, Chop - Having lots of vegetables and fruits already chopped in your fridge makes healthy eating so much easier. You can use them for snacking or throwing in a salad or on a sandwich.
Batch Cook Grains, Beans, & Legumes - Make a large batch of rice, quinoa, beans, or lentils to always have in the fridge. I love to multi-task and put some rice in the InstantPot while I chop all of my veggies. Then I’ll throw in some beans while I make breakfasts for the week and do the dishes.
Make One Large Soup or Pasta Dish - Although I said I don’t prep a bunch of meals, I find having one good sized meal ready throughout the week can be a real life saver. I’ll often combine a salad and soup for my lunch or for busy nights when I don’t feel like cooking dinner.
Roast Some Veggies - Is there any way better to eat your veggies? I think not! Roasting vegetables in the oven is my favorite way to eat most vegetables. Roasting brings out the sweetness in the vegetables and you can add so much variety by mixing up the spices you use. These are great to add with some grains, salad, or to throw in a taco.
Make a few Homemade Dressings or Dips - This is essential if you want to really have flavorful and enjoyable meals. By making your own, you will be ensuring that you are using whole food ingredients without any added sugar, oils, or salt. You can make a lemon-tahini dressing and some guacamole and add it to your salads or meals throughout the week. You can also use the dips for snacking or spreading on your sandwich.
Upgrade Your Food Storage - Using glass tupperware and masons jars have really made food prepping easier and more efficient for me. Not only does glass seem to keep everything more fresh, it looks nicer and is better for the environment too.
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Putting it all together:
Now your breakfasts are all good to go. Lunches and dinners can be mixed and matched to make salads, grain bowls, wraps, tacos, paninis, stuffed peppers or potatoes, or pizza. I usually use leftovers from dinner as my lunches which always makes for a delicious and nutritious lunch. On the weekends, we’re a little more flexible and tend to go out to eat or cook up a delicious, more intricate recipe.
In the end, do what works best for you. Give some of these tips a try and throw out the rest! Or go all in and see how you like it. I’ve tried doing it so many different ways and this just seems to work best for our family.
Now tell me - Have you tried food prepping? Also, please share any additional tips you may have in the comments!