If you are new to eating healthy or trying to stay on track with a new lifestyle, meal prepping is something you should familiarize yourself with! Meal prepping became “trendy” in the healthy eating world a few years ago, and with good reason. It’s a useful way of getting organized and getting your healthy eating set up for the week. The key with meal prep is that it really helps you get set up for success!
If you search the hashtag “meal prepping” you’ll see over nine million examples of meal prep and how others are doing it. As with everything else on social media, meal prepping can seem a little overwhelming and intimidating if you look at how others are doing it. A quick scroll in that hashtag shows beautiful jars of overnight oats, perfectly portioned trail mix, and containers full of salads and meals for the week. It looks nice, but in my experience meal prepping this way gets boring, fast. Who wants to eat the same overnight oats for five days in a row? Not me. And I would never expect you or anyone else to want to eat this way either!
If prepping all of your specific meals ahead of time works for you, then stick with it! Healthy eating and building a healthy lifestyle is absolutely an individual experience, and everyone has their own methods that work for them. But there are other ways of prepping your food that keeps things interesting and won’t have you feeling sick of eating the same things all week.
I definitely prefer component cooking to full meal prepping. Component cooking, or batch prepping, means that you prep various ingredients that can be combined to make whole meals. This way there are a number of different combinations of meals you can create and you don’t have to eat the same meals 5 days in a row. This method is just as efficient because you’ve done most of the prep ahead of time and you can still whip up a healthy meal in under 30 minutes.
Here are some examples of how you can prep food to help yourself create healthy meals all week:
Vegetables and fruits:
-Prepare veggies for snacks and salads: rinse and chop into bite sized pieces; store in a container. For example, chop up a head of broccoli to have for snacks with hummus or dip. This way you can also quickly steam or roast the prepped broccoli for dinners.
-Portion out small bags of greens and fruit for smoothies. Place in the freezer and you can grab them whenever you need.
-Roast veggies: great for grain bowls, side dishes, and adding into sauces. I like to roast a couple of different pans at the same time, this way I’m not eating the same veggies all week, but I still have plenty of options prepped. I’ll often do one pan ½ cauliflower and ½ broccoli and another with peppers and onions, for example.
Grains and starches:
-Make a big batch of quinoa or brown rice for the week. Cooking the grains makes it super easy come meal time since all you need to do is reheat them when you’re ready to eat. Prepped grains are also great to add to salads for lunches.
-Roast starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes to use as side dish with dinners and lunches. Roasted sweet potatoes are also a delicious addition to salads and even smoothies!
-Prep a large batch of oats for breakfasts. You can quickly re-heat cooked oats with a bit of water or almond milk and then use different toppings to change it up each day!
-Roast a few chicken breasts to add to salads or as a protein for your lunches. They make a great addition to grain bowls or thrown on top of pasta for a quick dinner. For a bit more flavour variety you can marinate your chicken breasts in different sauces. I like using balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice and Dijon mustard to add different flavours to my proteins.
-Hard boil eggs for easy snacks or “grab-and-go” breakfasts.
-Beans and legumes are a really healthy protein option. You can cook dried beans at the start of your week to throw into your meals. Or make sure you have a couple of cans in your pantry to add into your meals whenever you don’t have other proteins prepared.
-Try prepping two or three snack options for yourself to have for the week. This way you know you’ll always have a healthy option on hand when you need it. This also helps prevent you caving into your cravings and reaching for sugary snacks or treats from convenience stores or coffee shops.
-I like roasting nuts, mixing up trail mixes or making homemade hummus or energy bites to have for the week. I also love doing homemade muffins or banana bread for a treat during the week as well.
Ultimately if you want to make healthy eating really quick and easy, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of doing some sort of prep at the start of your week. This is hands down the best way to set yourself up for success during the week. It takes the effort and the guesswork out of eating healthy because you took the time to set things up. We all know what it’s like to be tired after work and come home and have no idea what to make for dinner. This is usually when we reach for pre-made foods or takeout, both of which aren’t the healthiest options. Get in the habit of prepping your food and you’ll thank yourself during the week! It takes a bit of effort to get in the habit of doing it, but if you put that time at the start of the week, you’re setting yourself up for success as the week goes on!
Easy meal prepped grain bowl recipe
1 cup grain of choice (quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, millet)
3 cups mixed veggies of choice
1 tbsp oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp spices (I like using a blend of cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder and garlic powder)
Salt and pepper
1 cup chickpeas (can use any other legume or protein for this as well)
Pumpkin seeds for garnish
1 tbsp tahini paste or almond butter
1 tsp tamari
1 tsp maple syrup
Splash of apple cider vinegar
Water to thin
Salt and pepper to taste
-Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Chop your veggies into similar sized pieces and add to a roasting pan or cookie sheet. Drizzle with oil and season with your spices along with a good pinch of sea salt and pepper. Place in the oven to roast for about 25-30 minutes.
-While veggies are roasting, add your grains and broth to a medium sauce pot, season with a pinch of salt. Cover, and bring to a boil then reduce to low and simmer until the grains are tender. Once grains are cooked, remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for a few minutes. Fluff with a fork and portion out into your containers or bowls.
-While the veggies and grains are cooking, add the sauce ingredients to a small bowl and whisk well to combine.
-Top the grains with the roasted veggies and chickpeas. Drizzle with a few teaspoons of sauce and top with pumpkin seeds just before serving. Enjoy!
For more variety to this dish you can prep a few different types of vegetables to add to the grains, use different proteins and difference sauces or dressings on top. Mix it up with the ingredients so you don’t get bored!
is a Holistic Nutritionist and Certified Nutritional Practitioner practicing in Winnipeg, MB. She works one-on-one with her clients to uncover the root cause of their health concerns and help them find their love of food again. Alaina also manages her blog and social media- Deliciously Nourished- where she frequently shares her tips and tricks to living healthier along with her own recipes. Alaina believes in keeping things simple and loves providing realistic and relatable nutrition advice and inspiration to her community.