Meal Prep 101: make eating healthy easy

meal prep

Let’s talk about how to make eating healthy on the go easy with meal prep. If we’ve never meal prepped before and/or aren’t big cookers then meal prep can seem a little overwhelming. Here are some basic meal prep and cooking tips to make our lives easier and healthier!

Why meal prep?

  • Relying on eating out takes the power out of our hands to choose the best foods for ourselves and often means we are eating more hidden ingredients like added sugar, preservatives and additives.
  • A lack of planning puts reliance on pre-made, packaged, processed food. Processed food is often full of harmful ingredients (chemicals, additives, preservatives) and nutrient poor.
  • Nutrient dense, whole foods taste amazing, give us energy and help us stay healthy and vital! Meal prep means being able to cook with wholesome whole foods.
  • We deserve to eat healthy conveniently.
  • Consciously choosing and preparing our food is a great way to practice self-love. Loving ourselves first, gives us the strength to truly love others.
  • Frees up time for us during the week. We don’t need to spend our spare time cooking because our meal is already ready for us.

Goals of meal prep:

  • Have one meal a day (maybe more depending on schedule) prepared in advance so we can grab and go.
  • Ensure that meal (eg. lunch for work) is healthy and nourishing so we feel good, stick to our health goals and are satisfied with our choices.
  • Save time.

What to do:

  • Figure out what we want for that one meal during week and grocery shop for that meal: aim for whole foods.
  • Add variety to the meal. Eg. Pick a variety of vegetables.
  • Include enough vegetables. Adding salad and extras like avocados to your cooked veggie selection is a great way to increase vegetable content.
  • Aim for 2/3 veggies and the rest a combination of healthy fat, protein and complex carbs.
  • Consider the season: In the warmer months we can incorporate more raw foods, where in the summer cooked options can be better.
  • Set aside a few hours, we often do Sunday afternoon, to cook and prepare your meals for the week.
  • Divide into containers when the food is done so we can grab and go during the week.
  • If we don’t want to meal prep for the full week in advance, meal prep can also mean making extra at every dinner (if we regularly cook our own dinner) so we have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Keeping it interesting:

So we don’t get bored of the same meals everyday here are some options to keep it interesting:

  • Consider making half the days vegetarian and half the days with a meat option. Eg. Quinoa and lentils have similar cooking time so cook together in the same pot with vegetable stock and at the same time roast some chicken. Then when putting meals together half have chicken and half have quinoa and lentils.
  • Cut up a mix of vegetables but don’t mix together while cooking. Then mix in different combinations for the different days. Eg. If roasting vegetables, roast a mix like cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, and mushrooms but keep separate on the pan. Then you can give 2 vegetables a meal in different combos.

Easy Ways to Prepare Vegetables:

Let’s face it, it’s easier to include vegetables when we know what to do with them:

  • Easy Go-To Spicing: When all else fails, sea salt, pepper and garlic powder add a great base to any veggies. Spice up from there!
  • Pick the right healthy fats: If cooking, use oils that are better suited for heat like coconut oil, avocado oil, and grass-fed butter/ghee. For tossing cooked or raw vegetables in a little fat for more flavour, olive oil or sesame oil are good choices
  • Steaming 101: Use a steaming pot (a pot that has a double layer, the top is for the vegetables to sit in that has holes in the bottom to allow steam to reach the vegetables from the water boiling in main pot) or you can buy an inexpensive steaming insert for any pot. Bring water in bottom of the pot to a boil. Place chopped veggies in the steaming portion of the pot/ or the steaming insert. Place over steaming water with a lid to keep the steam in. Cook for 2-3 minutes (longer depending on vegetables). When steaming we want the veggies to still be a bit crunchy. This is a light cooking option that makes very healthy and delicious veggies. Once done, toss with a healthy fat like olive oil and any desired spice combination our go to combo is sea salt/pepper/garlic.
  • Steam Sautéing 101: Here we combine steaming and sautéing. Melt roughly a tablespoon of a healthy fat like coconut oil in a pan, add chopped veggies and a splash of water (splash to start can always add more). Cover with a lid, stirring occasionally. Let the veggies start to cook with the bit of water in the pan, giving them a steam with the lid on (healthier than outright frying). Then when cooked a bit more than half way to the desired texture, remove the lid, letting the extra water cook off. Ending the veggies with a short sauté (cook in the oil at a low-md heat).
  • Roasting 101: Preheat oven to 350-375 (we usually do 350 convection). Chop veggies, toss with oil (melted coconut oil or avocado are healthy choices that hold up well to heat) and any desired spices (sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc.). Bake for 25 – 45 min depending on the vegetables. If doing a range of vegetables, most root vegetables (like sweet potato and squash) take longer and should be on their own tray so they can stay in the longest. Use a fork to check if vegetables are desired consistency.
  • Raw: We like a mix of raw and cooked veg with most meals. We often add a small side salad to meals (sometimes just greens, sometimes greens + chopped veg like cucumber, etc.), half an avocado, or some vegetable sticks. This increases variety and adds a range of nutrients. In the warm months (spring, summer) salads will often become a main not a side. We will chop up a large range of mixed vegetables and add a large variety to a big portion of greens with either a vegetarian protein option or a meat option. Our favourite dressing is apple cider vinegar and olive oil (with the trusty sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder seasoning). To make a salad a main in the winter try adding root vegetables for more of a warming effect. All raw salads are very cooling and not ideal mains for winter.

Hopefully these tips help add some confidence into the food prep picture! Remember, meal prep puts the power in our hands, giving us an opportunity to live healthy, vital, and happy lives!

Let us know how it goes!