Preparing meals for the week ahead is a food trend that’s grown in popularity for its time-saving, health and lifestyle benefits. As daunting as the idea of cramming a week’s worth of work into a matter of hours can be, healthy meal prep doesn’t have to be complicated.
How do I start food prepping?
If you’re new to meal planning and meal prepping, there are few simple steps you can take to get started. Eatingwell.com says the first step to success is determining the best prep method for you.
Common meal prep methods include:
- Make-ahead meals that can be reheated,
- Batch cooking and freezing multiple portions of a recipe,
- Individually portioned grab-and-go meals, or
- Preparing ready to cook ingredients so meals can be cooked efficiently before serving.
Once you have your meal prep method in place, you can determine your menu and schedule some time to get cooking!
The next step to meal prep made simple is to take stock and shop. Take inventory of what you have in your kitchen and stock up on pantry staples like canned beans, rice, grains, dried herbs and broth.
Finally, it’s time to prepare and store your food. Eatingwell.com suggests making the most of your food prep time by beginning with foods that require the longest cooking time. It is also important you are mindful of storage life and keep prepared and cooked items organized with date labels.
What is the best app for meal planning? Find out here.
What foods last the longest when meal prepping?
If you’re looking for a grocery list that won’t spoil, here are a few time-tested ingredients to incorporate into your meal plan:
- Sweet potatoes
- Boiled eggs
- Roasted vegetables
- Canned tomatoes
- Canned corn
Is meal prepping good for weight loss?
Can you lose weight from meal prepping? The short answer is - it depends. Meal prep supports healthy eating when you incorporate healthier ingredients and more variety into weekly menus. You control what goes into the dish and it all comes down to health choices.
Recipes, along with meal-prep strategies, can easily be modified to meet each individual or family's needs, dietary restrictions, and preferences.
What are the easiest foods for meal prep?
If you’re interested in what to cook that will last all week, Top10.com compiled a list of easy and delicious recipes for prepared meals that can be made in bulk to last the whole week.
Black bean and sweet potato enchiladas
Black bean sweet potato enchiladas make for a hearty vegetarian dish that supplies five servings in just 20 minutes of prep time. The enchilada sauce calls for salsa verde, which can be made at home or bought pre-made at the store. As an added bonus, this recipe includes modifications to make it gluten-free or vegan.
Baked ziti allows for a lot of personalization: You can choose your preferred meat (Italian sausage, ground beef or pork, or a vegan alternative), your favorite store-bought pasta sauce (or make your own), and pasta shape. The recipe recommends using different fresh herbs depending upon the season, from basil in the summer to rosemary in winter. This dish is easy to freeze, so be sure to prep a little extra.
Quick and easy to make in bulk, and very freezer-friendly, this vegetarian chili is vegan, gluten-free, and packed with protein thanks to the beans and quinoa. Cumin and chili powder are key to the flavour of this recipe. Finish it off with a variety of toppings like sour cream, Greek yogurt, cheese, or chips, depending on your dietary preferences.
Slow cooker sesame beef
With just a few inexpensive ingredients, slow cooker sesame beef is simple and budget-friendly. All you need to start this delicious dish is a 3-quart or larger slow cooker and 15 minutes of prep time. When the meat is finished cooking, pair it with your choice of sides like broccoli and rice, use it to top a cabbage salad, or load up a few taco shells.
Chana masala is a simple, delicious Indian dish featuring chickpeas. The recipe yields two servings perfect for a dinner or spread across workweek lunches. Chana masala can be spooned over jasmine or basmati rice, paired with naan bread, or served on its own.
Baked mini frittatas
For fans of breakfast anytime, baked mini frittatas fit the bill. Following the recipe as given, with bacon, broccoli, and cheese, each frittata is only 127 calories; however, you can incorporate any ingredients you'd like. The recipe makes a dozen frittatas using a muffin tin: plenty for a week's worth of breakfasts.
Red beans and rice
Red beans and rice may take a little longer to fix than other dishes, but it's worth the time for six servings of a freezer-friendly meal. Quick-soaking the beans will decrease prep time. This recipe offers flexibility, from the type of beans and sausage to the level of spice in the dish. Ingredients for this meal are inexpensive and full of protein and fibre.
Southwest shrimp and corn succotash
Southwest shrimp and corn succotash is a healthier twist on a southern classic. The dish is given a TexMex flair by using black beans instead of lima beans, along with spice-rubbed shrimp and jalapenos.
Pro tip: Cut down on your prep time by purchasing shrimp that are already peeled and deveined. The entire dish can also be made using one pan, making clean-up quick and easy.
Sausage and kale lentil stew
Packed with fresh veggies, sausage and kale lentil stew is quick and easy to fix with cook and prep time totalling just over an hour. The recipe makes six servings, so be sure to freeze any extra in order to enjoy it a month or two down the road.
Moroccan pot roast
Moroccan pot roast is a new twist on an old favourite: traditional beef chuck roast flavoured with nontraditional ingredients including eggplant, honey, and mint. This dish pairs especially well with flatbread or couscous. The slow cooking takes about seven hours, but when it's done you're left with eight servings that will last all week or can be frozen for a delicious meal later on.
A version of this story originally appeared on Top10.com and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio. The article has been re-published pursuant to a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.