Want to get healthier in the new year? Or maybe you are just coming back to your healthy lifestyle after an indulgent holiday? Either way, you may be surprised to find that there are simple tips and tricks for healthy meal prep to make cooking and eating healthy as easy as pie!
Healthy cooking doesn’t take any special tools or knowledge. In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of recipes available at your fingertips with search engines like Google. You can simply type in “Brussels sprout recipes,” and you will get a ton of results that will make these veggies shine at the dinner table. So why aren’t more of us eating healthy?
Say no to prepackaged foods
Unfortunately, the junk food industry has made it easy to continue eating the standard American diet. Processed foods are a cinch to whip up because they require basically no prep work—thus, their allure for the busy family who doesn’t have time to chop, sauté, and cook for an hour on the weekdays. However, if you give in to this too-easy-to-be-true meal trap, you will be paying for it later with your health.
Try these tips for healthy meal prep instead
Instead of resorting to prepackaged foods laden with sodium, harmful fats, and a whole bunch of preservatives, try these tips to make cooking healthy easier than ever. Your body will thank you!
1.) Plan and stick to your grocery list
Want to make your week easy? Plan! This is the first step to healthy meal prep, because you will need to know what goes on your grocery list ahead of time. You don’t need to have everything planned down to a tee, but always having a general sense of what meals you will be making can take the stress out of your evening commute. No more wondering, “What in the heck am I going to feed these kids tonight?”
2.) Stock up on essentials
If you want to be a meal prep superstar, having some pantry staples on hand always will make your healthy-cooking goals much easier to attain. Here is a list of some things to make sure you have in your pantry:
- Brown rice
- Spices and herbs
- Canned or dried beans
- Whole grain pasta
- Nut butter
- Nuts and seeds
- Olive oil
- Low-sodium vegetable broth
3.) Invest in quality storage containers
Since you won’t be purchasing prepackaged foods, you will need to invest in reusable containers that can hold fresh produce, dried ingredients, and leftovers. Containers that freeze well are also a plus in case you want to stock up, and choosing clear containers is an easy way to make sure you know the contents.
4.) Try batch cooking and prep
Want to save tons of time? Batch cooking means making more than one meal’s worth at a time. If you are already cutting up veggies for one dinner, why not double the recipe and have lunch for the rest of the week ready to go? Your body will thank you for the delicious, home-cooked meal instead of a frozen microwave entrée. Batch prepping works the same way. If you know you will need a variety of cut veggies for a few different recipes that week, take time to cut up everything you need and store it in your convenient containers in the fridge. That way, your weeknight cooking will be simple and fast.
5.) Take the shortcuts that make sense
Avoiding prepackaged foods doesn’t mean you can’t go for frozen fruits, veggies, or even pastas and rice. Sometimes, planning and batch prepping and cooking aren’t enough. In that case, you can shop smarter and head down the frozen foods aisle to see if there are any healthy ways to save time and money. Just remember to read the labels. If there are ingredients you don’t know, then there are likely preservatives you want to avoid.
Don’t break a sweat trying to fit healthy eating into your routine. Instead, plan smarter and organize your kitchen in a way that makes cooking healthy feel great. If you feel overwhelmed with even the thought of planning out your family’s meals for a week, then start small. Even planning one or two healthy meals ahead will make a difference.