Meal Prep Hacks For Busy Beginners

We're all crazy busy, but life shouldn't get in the way of healthy eating.

October 30, 2017
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Whether you’re shuttling kids from school to soccer or sitting in meetings all day, you deserve to eat well. We’ve found the best way to nourish your hungry belly while still making that 5 o’clock obligation—a brilliant little solution called meal prep.

We swear by it, and we’re here to share the secret. Meal prep is a miraculous way to bring healthy, home-cooked meals to the table on hectic weeknights—or busy mornings, if that’s your weak spot.

HealthyWay
Brooke Lark

Meal prep involves taking one day a week to shop and preparing your meals for the next seven days (we’re partial to Sunday afternoon). Prep breakfasts, lunches, dinners, or all three to keep your weekly meals on track.

After chopping, dicing, cooking and roasting, all of your prepped food is tucked in tidy little containers and stored in the fridge, ready for a Tuesday night or Thursday morning when you don’t have the energy to cook from scratch. It’s amazing how much time you’ll save by cooking a week’s worth of food all at once! Another major benefit? When you’re at your hungriest, you’ll reach for a prepped meal or snack instead of grabbing junk food.

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Now that you know meal prep is a lifesaver, we think you’re ready for some yummy inspiration. From high-protein breakfasts to antioxidant-rich mains, we’ve got some meal prep hacks to get you started. Why wait a second longer?

Batch Bake and Season with a Sheet Pan

Enjoy a different meal every day and avoid the “meal prep blahs” by making several flavors of meat or veggies at once.

HealthyWay
Brooke Lark

Use aluminum foil to turn a classic cookie sheet into a three-section sheet pan. Place diced chicken, steak or veggies in each section, drizzle with olive oil and season each section with a different spice mix.

To make, simply mold aluminum foil together, pinching two pieces together to create a wall between sections. Aim for a 1 inch wall or higher, to keep juices from seeping into the neighboring section. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes, or until pieces are cooked through.

Prepare High-Protein Snacks in a Muffin Tin

To keep hunger at bay, add more protein to your meal prep menu.

HealthyWay
Brooke Lark

One of the simplest ways to prep enough protein daily is to bake boiled eggs, “over-easy” eggs, and scrambled eggs together in a muffin tin. Added bonus: you’ll get perfect serving sizes that are ready to pack into your meal prep container. Enjoy the boiled eggs chilled or at room temperature. For a delicious breakfast, lunch, or post-workout snack, reheat the scrambled and baked eggs.

To prepare each style of egg at once, start by placing boiled eggs in muffin tin, bake for 10 minutes, then add scrambled eggs. 10 minutes later, crack baked eggs into tin. In 30 minutes, you’ll have 3 types of eggs ready to pack.

Begin by heating oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

For Boiled Eggs: Place eggs in a muffin tin. Cook in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Once done, remove from oven and immediately plunge into icy water for easy peeling.

  • Packing tip! Pack with almonds and diced cheese for a high-protein snack pack. Or slice in half and pack with hummus and veggies for a vegetarian lunchbox.

For Scrambled Eggs: Scramble desired number of eggs with veggies, cheese, and spices. Spray muffin tin with nonstick coconut oil spray. Spoon egg mixture into cups. Bake for 20 minutes total or until centers spring back when touched lightly.

  • Packing tip! Pack with fresh yogurt and berries for a quick and simple high-protein breakfast.

For Baked (“Overeasy”) Eggs: Spray empty muffin cups with nonstick coconut oil spray. Crack an egg in each cup. Bake for 10 minutes, or just until egg whites are cooked.

  • Packing tip! Pack with sliced chicken sausage, wilted greens, diced tomatoes, and a slice of gluten-free toast for a hearty breakfast that reheats nicely.

Make Green Smoothies in Minutes with Zipper Packs

Feel like there’s never time to kickstart your day with healthy eats? This simple idea will have you running out the door with a nourishing green smoothie in hand. No matter how many minutes you have in the morning, all you need is 2 minutes more to make a green smoothie.

HealthyWay
Brooke Lark

The secret? Prepare smoothie zipper packs by filling ziptop bags with kale or spinach, fresh berries, bananas or apples, and healthy add-ins like almonds, oatmeal, or chia seeds. Place flat in the freezer and they’ll be ready whenever you are.

To prepare, simply dump your zipper pack in the blender, top with almond milk and blend. If desired, add a bit of honey or protein powder, pour into an on-the-go container, and head out the door. Meal prep, done!

Bake Veggies to Boost Your Intake

Meal prep works because when hunger strikes, you’ve already got a healthy option ready to go. Similarly, having lots and lots of seasoned, cooked veggies ready to eat is the secret to actually eating enough.

HealthyWay
Brooke Lark

Rather than preparing pots and pans full of different types of veggies, make prep extra easy by roasting a variety together on a sheet pan. Many grocery stores have prepared packs of cleaned and diced veggies, so if prep time is a concern, look for those ready-to-go options, toss on a sheet pan, and bake. Boom! A whole bushel of veggies, ready to pack and enjoy.

A few favorites that stand up well to roasting:

  • Diced sweet potatoes *
  • Diced potatoes *
  • Brussels sprouts *
  • Sweet peppers
  • Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Asparagus
  • Sliced squash or zucchini

To prepare, begin by heating oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Select 5-8 veggies from the list above and place in piles on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive or coconut oil, chopped garlic, and salt and pepper.

HealthyWay
Brooke Lark

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Veggies with an *asterisk will likely need more cooking time, so get them going first. Add in faster cooking veggies 10-15 minutes later.

Breakfast & Lunch 101

If breakfast or lunch has you stumped, we’ve got your back.

HealthyWay
Brooke Lark

Use this simple formula to put together a wholesome meal with your prepped goodies:

Whole Grains (brown rice, quinoa, wheat berries, etc.) + Proteins (eggs, lean meat, nuts or nut butter, etc.) + Greens (baby greens, spinach, kale, fruit, etc.)

What’s for Breakfast?

Whole Grain Toast + Scrambled Egg + Baby Spinach
Oatmeal + Chopped Almonds + Blueberries
Or, grab a Boiled Egg + Green Smoothie to go.

Let’s do lunch:

Brown Rice + Baked Chicken + Roasted Veggies
Quinoa + Steak + Baby Greens
Lentils + Cashews + Stewed Greens

Spice It Up!

A little spice makes everything nice, including meal prep. Go beyond plain and add a sprinkle of flavor to spice things up.

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Here are a few ways to add flavor:

Indian Blend: 2 tablespoons curry + 2 tablespoons cumin + 2 teaspoons turmeric + 2 teaspoons ground coriander + 1 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom + 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Fajita Blend: 2 teaspoons chili powder + 1 teaspoon salt + 1 teaspoon paprika + 1 teaspoon sugar + 3/4 teaspoon crushed chicken bouillon cube + 1/2 teaspoon onion powder + 1/2 teaspoon cumin + 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder + 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Herbes de Provence: 3 tablespoons oregano leaves + 3 tablespoons thyme leaves + 1 teaspoon basil leaves + 1 teaspoon sage leaf + 3 tablespoons savory + 2 tablespoons lavender flowers + 1 teaspoon rosemary

Garlic & Olive Oil: Keep it super simple and tasty—mix chopped garlic with olive oil and drizzle over your grains, meat and greens. Perfecto!

Eat healthy and save time with those incredibly simple meal prep tips. Now that we’ve shared some delicious ideas, it’s time to get prepping!

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