When it comes to healthy eating, preparation is the key to success.In fact, one study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine suggests that spending time on preparing and cooking meals at home is linked with better dietary habits. But if you love the convenience of prepackaged foods and restaurant meals, it might be hard to go cold turkey on your take-out routine.
Luckily, planning and preparing your meals ahead of time will make healthy choices a no-brainer. Instead of running to the deli for a cold cut calorie bomb, you’ll have a home cooked feast on hand that can be heated up faster than you can walk two blocks. And hey, you’ll save money while you’re at it.
Plus, if you’re intimidated by cooking, there are tons of sneaky tricks that can help make assembling delicious meals a cinch. From easy breakfast options to methods for whipping up meals in bulk, we’ve got expert tips to set yourself up for a fuss-free and healthy week. Whip out your favorite Tupperware and get started.
6 Meal Prep Ideas to Try Now
If you’re sticking to lean meats like chicken, chowing down on the same flavors can get tedious after a while. Save time without boring your taste buds by preparing two or three variations of chicken at once, using aluminum foil dividers in your pan. Sriracha, BBQ, honey mustard — you can have it all. Three birds, one pan! Photo and recipe: Kevin / Fit Men Cook
2. Hard-Boil Eggs in The Oven — Not in A Pot
An excellent source of protein, vitamins A and B and healthy fat, eggs should be a staple snack for any health fiend. The problem: You can usually only fit up to five eggs in a pot. To make a delicious dozen in one go, bake your eggs in muffin tins for just 30 minutes. Ta-da! You’ll get a perfectly hard-boiled batch. Pro tip: Do a small test run first to ensure your oven doesn’t run too hot or too cold before cooking a full pan of eggs. Photo and recipe: Lindsay / The Lean Green Blog
3. Freeze Blended Smoothies in Muffin Tins
Never have the time to measure out a million fixings for a morning sip? Save time by buying the ingredients in bulk, blending your favorite beverage, and then freezing the mixture in muffin tips. Next time you need a shake, stat, toss two or three “smoothie cups” in a blender for a quick and easy breakfast. Photo and recipe: Matt / Muffin Tin Mania
Too hangry to make dinner at the end of a long day? Cut veggies in bulk ahead of time to avoid wasting precious minutes chopping on busy weeknights. Zucchini noodles (“zoodles”) and butternut squash noodles will stay fresh in the fridge for 3-5 days, and chopped vegetables like carrots, onion and pepper will last a week when refrigerated properly in a sealed plastic bag or tupperware. Photo and tip: Ali / Inspiralized
5. Roast Different Vegetables With Same Cooking Time
Roasting vegetables is a great way to bring out their natural sweetness, but waiting 30 to 40 minutes for each pan of nutrient-rich goodness to cook can be time-consuming. To prep a large batch of veggies, try pairing them based on roasting time. Fast-cooking vegetables that can bake in the same pan include asparagus, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes; slow-roasting vegetables include carrots, cauliflower, onions, potatoes and parsnips. Photo: Jenny / Picky Palate
6. Make Portions Crystal Clear
Guard against overeating by portioning your nuts, pretzels, veggies or favorite nibbles into plastic baggies or portable jars. It’s easy to mindlessly munch when you’ve got an entire bag sitting in front of you, but having just enough ready to go for lunch or a snack will keep you from going overboard. Jars: BlenderBottle GoStak