Meal Prepping Like the Pros
Your ultimate guide to making delicious, healthy and ready-to-eat meals
Meal prepping can be daunting for a number of reasons. You don’t have enough time, you don’t have enough energy, or maybe – you just don’t want to. But the truth is, getting a jump start on meals at the beginning of the week can save time, calories, money, and even stress. Meal prepping takes away the pressure of decision making that looms over your commute home. Because when you know a thoughtfully crafted and pre-paid meal awaits you, that decision becomes a little bit easier.
In Prep of the Prep
First, choose which days you’ll plan your menu, grocery shop and prep your food. By breaking up these tasks, it’ll make meal planning manageable even for the busiest of schedules.
While everyone’s dietary needs are different, here is a meal plan that’s packed with all the protein, vitamins and fiber you need to keep up steam for the rest of the day. Feel free to swap out vegetables for the leafy green of your choice, or change up meats for a favorite healthy protein like turkey or fish.
Grocery list | Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Mixed Veggies
o 2.5 lbs chicken breast
o 2 (16 oz bags) frozen vegetables or 4 cups vegetable of your choice (Brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach and kale are all nutrient-packed)
o 3-4 sweet potatoes
o Salt & pepper or your favorite seasoning
o 2 Baking sheets
o Aluminum foil
o Large pot
o Cutting board
o Non-stick spray or olive oil
o Tupperware, individual containers or bags
Step One: Cook Vegetables
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add in frozen vegetables. Cook for about 10 minutes or until tender. While the vegetables cook, preheat the oven to 350°.
Step Two: Prepare and Cook Chicken
Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Take the chicken thighs and line side-by-side, filling the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper or the flavored seasoning of your choice.
Place the tray of chicken on the middle rack of the oven and set timer for 25 minutes.
Step Three: Prepare and Cook Sweet Potatoes
While the chicken bakes, wash and cut potatoes into discs, then cut each disc into fours – roughly the same size, to ensure they cook evenly.
Next, line the second baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray. Place a single layer of potatoes across the sheet. Set timer for 30 minutes.
Step Four: Strain and Portion Vegetables
Strain the vegetables and set aside to cool. Then, gather your containers for the week. For those new to tracking portion sizes, it’s recommended using a food scale to ensure uniform servings. If you don’t have a food scale and need a quick way to determine the correct portion size, you can always defer to using your hand as a guide.
Step Five: Check the Chicken and Divide Into Containers
When the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165°, it’s done. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, cut a piece open and look to make sure there’s no pink in the center.
Divide the chicken into your containers for the week. One serving of chicken ranges from four to six ounces, or about the size of one to two palms (one for women, two for men). Add sweet potatoes.
When a fork can easily glide through a piece of potato, it’s done. Add in a handful to the containers to complete your meal.
When maintaining a new, healthy lifestyle, consistency is key, but eating the same recipe five days a week can be a deal-breaker. Consider adding these easy, healthy recipes to your weekly prep: Fiesta Chicken Rice Bowl and Butternut Squash Pasta.
Tips for Storing
It’s easy for a meal cooked at the beginning of the week to get lost in the depths of a refrigerator. Make sure to date all meals so you know which ones to eat first. This ensures freshness and minimizes food waste. For this particular meal, it’s recommended to store half of the meals in the freezer and half in the refrigerator.
Once you commit meal prep to your weekly schedule, you’ll get into the swing of buying ingredients and preparing food in larger quantities in no time. When you start planning out your meals, you’ll be less likely to fall into the trap of temptation, and get a better grasp on exactly how much food your body needs to sustain energy, and a healthy lifestyle.
source: Northwestern University – Northwestern Medicine