Most of us want to eat healthfully. But, after a long day of work and errands even the mere thought of going into the kitchen can be exhausting. Sure you could grab some take-out but this quickly turns into an expensive habit. Plus, most restaurant food is laden with extra salt, sugar and oil. So is it possible to not compromise your health, waistline and wallet without losing your sanity?
Yes! Try incorporating some or all of these simple meal prep tips into your routine to save time, money and keep your health on track.
- Plan out your week
Take a few minutes to plan meals for the upcoming week. Decide what you will make and then compile a grocery list so you will have all the ingredients you need. This is a great time to note if you want to double a recipe so you have leftovers for the next day, another great time saver!
- Prepare fruits, veggies and whole grains
On Sunday, chop up a rainbow fruits and veggies to not only make healthy snack options accessible but to also have ingredients prepped and ready for cooking.
- Don’t fear frozen
Fresh is best but flash freezing retains the majority of the nutrients in frozen fruits and veggies. Throw frozen fruit in the blender for a grab and go breakfast. In the evening, toss fresh and/or frozen veggies into a pan to make a quick stir-fry for dinner. Do use caution with steam bags – microwaving plastic with your food is risky. Simply transfer the frozen produce to a plate or bowl and then cook.
- Make full meals ahead of time
This may not be a feasible option for all but if you do have the time on Sunday, cooking 2-3 re-heatable meals ahead of time will definitely make week night dinner time a breeze. Sides, salads (without the dressing) and other snacks are a great here too.
- Have a back up
Life happens. So having a few super quick, go-to meals is a great way to proactively get yourself out of a dinner-time jam that, let’s be honest, is bound to happen. Double a recipe ahead of time that you can freeze and easily reheat when you need it. Freeze soup or sauces to have on hand. Keep your pantry stocked with some quality canned foods that don’t have added salt or sugar. And if you resort to take-out don’t beat yourself up about it. Just be mindful with your choices.
Dr. Steve Horvitz is R-Health’s Medical Director and one of the physician’s part of the NJ SHBP / SEHBP program.