Since more and more people are beginning to work from home and are presently buying in bulk, I’ve had several questions about how to do this meal prep thing easily and if there’s anything that people can do as beginners that will make it less time consuming and easier to clean up. In my beginner’s guide to meal prep post, I talk about what you need BEFORE you start prep, but here I dive in how to make your first meal prep attempt a success. I’m going to share the advice that I used when I first started eating healthier and meal prepping.
It’s my goal to make meal prep simple again! I have a ton of great recipes already posted that will come in handy as you get more comfortable with meal prep and feel like you’re ready to tackle things that are a little more “advanced,” but here is my best advice for a basic plan that’s not complicated, not time consuming, and is easy to clean up. It’s perfect for professionals, busy moms, and people who are giving meal prepping a go for the first time.
- Pick a protein and season it two ways or pick two types of protein
- Pick two types of veggies you would want to bake in the oven
- Pick a carb source
When you pick a protein and season it two ways, it keeps it from getting boring. An example of this would be picking chicken as your protein and seasoning half as lemon pepper and half as tomato basil. If you choose to do two proteins, an example of this would be chicken and pork. When I do protein, I usually follow one of two templates: I stick it in the oven on a sheet pan OR I stick it in the crock pot.
I know that I said to pick two types of vegetables, but you can always do more. I will sometimes mix together veggie medleys but season them differently. The point is to have two sheet pans full of veggies to place in containers with your chosen protein. As an example, two of my favorites medleys are zucchini, yellow squash, and asparagus and beets with sweet potatoes. Once you chop your veggies and lay them evenly over a large sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and your choice of seasoning.
Picking a carb source does NOT have to be complicated. I usually pick one out of the following list: sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, or gluten free pasta. I occasionally do yellow or red potatoes as well. Prep enough for the week and measure out into containers (I do a half cup of cooked carb source per container).
By cooking everything on sheet pans and in the crock pot, you are minimizing the amount of dishes you will create which keeps your cleanup simple- you should be able to get by with a cutting board, three sheet pans, one pot for cooking your carb source, and one meal done in the crock pot as a maximum.
Keeping breakfast simple
For breakfast when I am on the go (since I work at 6AM) I usually do egg muffins- recipe posted here– and keep them in a resealable air tight Ziploc container or make a smoothie with vanilla protein powder. I prep smoothie bags in advance where I chop up half a banana, throw in some frozen fruit and some spinach and keep in the freezer until needed. Then the day I use, I add almond milk or water a little Greek yogurt and vanilla protein. I also add flax seeds or chia seeds to keep me full for longer. Having a nutritious and healthy breakfast helps your day start out on the right foot and keeps you energized throughout the morning.