I'm a huge believer in the benefits of food prep, but also in the fact that it doesn't need to be an overwhelming, half-day, glass container extravaganza! You don't need to cook 15 meals to have effective food prep strategies that make you life a little easier. Here are 5 things I did this week to start my eating habits off on the right foot!
1) I found pockets of time.
If I thought I could only do food prep in a 4 hour block of time in which I cooked meals for the entire week, I'd never do it. That's not realistic in most peoples lives and can feel overwhelming. Instead, take it in smaller chunks. You can look for what I call "pockets of time" in your schedule. These are windows of opportunity you can set aside for food prep steps.
While you're eating dinner, can you steam a pot of rice for lunches?
While you're in the shower, can you throw some potatoes and veggies in the oven to roast?
Do you have 15 minutes before an appointment that you can throw together a salad and stick it in the fridge?
You don't need tons of time; you can use the time you have with intention.
2) I cooked grains in batches.
Cook the whole box of pasta and find more than one way to use it. Start the week with a pot of quinoa or rice in the refrigerator. Cooked grains will last the week, and then when mealtime comes, that's one fewer thing you have to do! Batches of grains also make for the quick base of a packed lunch, topped with veggies, protein, and dressing of choice. Whole grains are high in fiber and protein that helps to keep you full & satisfied after eating, plus carbohydrates for energy.
3) I prepped vegetables right away.
Be honest: If you bring the vegetables home with the best of intentions and stick them in the bottom crisper drawer... what are the odds some of them live and die there? Save your food & your money (and support your healthy eating) by doing a quick step to prep before they hit the fridge.
Can raw vegetables be cut up?
Can you steam some quickly?
Trim the ends off those green beans?
Wash & dry the fruit?
Put soon-to-use items in a bowl in the front?
4) I used frozen foods.
Frozen vegetables are still vegetables. Frozen berries are still berries. All the nutrients are there, except they're convenient to prepare, and they don't go bad. Win-win!
Sometimes we need food to be convenient. I cook frozen broccoli to save the time of cutting it up. There's a frozen, pre-made spicy cauliflower rice that I love to put in taco. Heck, this week I even used frozen meatless meatballs: They're not a "health food," and they're processed, and they aren't for every day, but they helped me add protein to a meal on a busy night, and I was super grateful to have them.
5) I bought dressings I love.
It is (of course) so much easier to create the habit of eating whole plant foods when they taste good! Switch up your dressings and condiments. I've been loving the dressings at Trader Joe's - vegan caesar, green goddess (yes please), carrot ginger miso... But sometimes a classic balsamic hits the spot, too! And don't forget about salsa!
Now, some people will say... "But isn't there oil in dressings?" Yep. "Don't you usually avoid oil?" Sure do. BUT we can also accept that a little bit of our favorite flavors will make eating new foods and simple, whole plant foods a little easier at first. If you're more inclined to munch on raw veggies by dipping them in your favorite dip, do it. It's better to eat the veggies! Will some of your favorite dressing turn a salad or a grain bowl into a delicious lunch. Use the dressing. Eat the plants.
Okay, what do you think - food prepping feeling a little easier? What's ONE thing you can do in your next pocket of time?? Share with us in the comments!
If you need help strategizing how you can best accomplish food prepping, planning healthy meals you'll enjoy, and gaining confidence in the kitchen, visit www.bewellwithsteph.com/workwithme. Maybe there's a way I can help!