Preparing food ahead of time ensures that the healthiest meal option will also be the most convenient option!
Meal Prep? But I don't enjoy cooking!
I'm sharing my simple, time-saving strategies with you because, in my experience as a coach, if you over-complicate your cooking strategy, you're not going to keep doing it.
Trust me, I know. I made this so ridiculously hard in the beginning!
My method, which I refer to as my "Chipotle Style Meal Prep', works beautifully for our family because we can each pull ingredients from the fridge and compose the meal we're in the mood for. This also allows for more flexibility in terms of macros since my husband and daughters eat white rice, and rice based pasta, while I do not.
What you shop for depends on what you want to eat. Sounds obvious, I know, but we can overthink this part!
Because I so rarely use recipes, my shopping strategy is very simple. I cycle through the different proteins and veggies we like to eat so we have good variety from one week to the next.
I know basically how much to buy because I know the quantities we typically consume. When in doubt, I buy extra. We have never (not once!) let food go to waste!
If you're cooking very simply, as I do, rather than using recipes, you will need to be sure to include some of the following items so that your food tastes good (not bland). You will have to experiment and figure out which flavor combinations you enjoy:
- organic spices or spice blends
- Paleo salad dressings (Primal Kitchen and Paleo Chef are my favs)
- fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, oregano, thyme, etc.)
- hot sauce (Chilula, Sriracha, etc.)
- fermented veggies (I often use a scoop on top of a salad instead of dressing)
I Cook on Sunday and Wednesday
I do my main meal prep on Sunday. This takes me about 2.5 hours start to finish and I clean up as I go.
I do another mini-food prep on Wednesday because we go through so much food in our house AND we're often ready for some variety by then.
This second prep typically only takes an hour or so as it usually involves only 1 protein and 1 veggie dish.
Plan Your Proteins
I usually cook 2-3 proteins at once. That might include:
- 3 pounds of grass fed ground beef
- 3 pounds of organic ground turkey
- burger patties
- whole roast chicken with herbs
- grass fed beef roast
- a tray of chicken thighs, drumsticks, or breast
I cook proteins very simply, using some herbs and spices I have on hand. In the summer, we do a lot of proteins on the grill.
You didn't see fish on my proteins list because we eat a ridiculous amount of wild caught canned salmon and sardines so there's little prep involved.
Roast Some Non-Starchy Veggies
At my house, we usually roast a couple of pounds of veggies at once.. Spread veggies in even layer on cookie sheet, drizzle with olive or coconut oil, sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally.
- brussels sprouts
- green beans
- squash (any variety but we almost always have spaghetti squash)
I keep a good supply of organic frozen veggies on hand for back-up. If I run out of fresh veggies mid-week, I pull out a couple of bags, let them thaw in the fridge. then roast them just as I would fresh veggies. The great thing about frozen is you don't have to worry about excess produce going bad in your veggie bin.
Don't Forget Starchy Veggies
Today, I made smashed mini potatoes but typically I make a roasted veggie hash by cubing a variety of starchy veggies into 1 inch pieces, drizzling with coconut oil, and roasting on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
My go-to root veggies include:
- purple sweet potatoes
- Jewell Yams
- Japanese sweet potatoes
- red, russet, or white potatoes
Make a Great Big Salad
I never could understand how restaurant or salad bar salads tasted so good until I started throwing everything but the kitchen sink into my own salads. Wow. They're so good! This adds texture, flavor, and interest.
Since I make salad ahead of time and want it to last for a few days, I don't add anything that will get funky such as avocado or diced apple. If I want those, I'll add them when I'm about to eat it.
The salad pictured below contains:
- dark leafy greens (power greens, in this case)
- purple cabbage
- fresh parsley
- daikon radish
- mandarin orange
- strawberry slices
For other salads, I will include any type of fresh herb I have on hand, fresh blueberries, carrots, mushrooms, jicama, cucumber, and even diced chunks of cooked sweet potato which add a fun texture and flavor. I liberally add sea salt to my salads but that's because I liberally salt everything, ha!
Dressings: Primal Kitchen or Paleo Chef - both use avocado oil so you're avoiding inflammatory seed oils. You can make your own if you prefer.
Store in Glass Containers:
I store all of my food in glass containers so that plastic doesn't leech into my food. You can fudge this a bit with cold foods that aren't acidic (such as salad).
If you do store your food in plastic, please be sure to transfer it to a plate or glass container before reheating.
Enjoy the Bounty!
I absolutely love opening my refrigerator and seeing the array of food options to make a quick meal out of. It takes about 2 minutes to create a bountiful meal with delicious proteins, veggies, and starches which is amazing on busy days. We often have fresh fruit for dessert or as an accompaniment to the meal which is quick, easy, and satisfying.
I simply don't enjoy spending time scouring for recipes, meal planning, preparing complicated shopping lists, and creating multi-step meals that I may or may not be in the mood for come lunch or dinner.
If this resonates with you, I hope my approach is helpful or at least gives you some inspiration.
If, on the other hand, you love recipes and love cooking, more power to you and please invite me over for dinner!