Once you have a simple meal plan in hand and all of the ingredients to bring dinner to life, it’s a good idea to invest an hour or two to clean, chop, and cook those ingredients. When it’s time for dinner, all you’ll have to do is assemble the ingredients and do some light cooking!
12 Meal Prep Ideas
Pull out your meal plan and any recipes you will use. Scan the ingredients and ask yourself: can this be washed, peeled, sliced, boiled or marinated? If so, you’ve got yourself a suitable meal prep item.
Keep in mind you don’t have to prepare all components of a meal at once. Some base ingredients, like rice, quinoa, and pasta, can be batch-made, while fresher ingredients (veggies, meats, etc.) can be cooked later in the week.
Here’s a list of some ideas to get you started on your meal prep day:
- Wash lettuce
- Wash, peel, and chop vegetables for salads or roasting
- Spiralize veggies like zucchini or squash
- Dice garlic
- Mix spices
- Prepare sauces, marinades, and dressings
- Marinate meats
- Boil quinoa, lentils, brown rice, pasta, and eggs (check out this week’s Easy Tuna Noodle Casserole)
- Roast vegetables
- Roast chicken
- Cook ground turkey or beef
- Assemble and prepare easy crockpot meals (i.e. chili, soups, casseroles)
Store all prepped ingredients in glass, ceramic, or stainless steel storage containers, label with the meal day and refrigerate.
Time-Saving Meal Prep Tips
If you’re extra short on time, invest in ready-to-use or heat-and-eat ingredients like:
- Prewashed lettuce
- Chopped veggies
- Spiralized veggies
- Minced garlic
- Canned beans and lentils
- Boiled eggs
- Ready-to-eat quinoa
- Frozen vegetables
- Whole roasted chicken
- Bottled salad dressings (I love Bragg salad dressings)
Save even more time by visiting Heinen’s Meat Department for ready-to-cook meats and plant-based alternatives. You can also head on over to Prepared Foods and pick up one or two restaurant-quality prepared items to round out your meal.
Take Action …
Get in the kitchen this week and test out your new meal prepping skills. Limit yourself to an hour or two and then take note of how much less stressed you feel come dinnertime.
Remember, this doesn’t have to be perfect! Any little bit of prep you can do today will lessen your anxiety tomorrow. Happy meal planning!
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