Meal prep – what everyone wants to do but for some reason it’s so hard. Meal prepping can be pretty intimidating and overwhelming, especially if you don’t feel confident in your skills in the kitchen. I feel as if I’ve found a balance that works for me when it comes to meal prepping/making my own healthy meals for dinner. I’ve accepted that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to meal prep.
Prep your protein
To be perfectly honest, I don’t meal prep everything I am going to eat for the week. What makes the biggest difference for me is to prepare the things that typically take the most time to cook normally, but are vital for a satisfying and delicious dinner. It’s pretty well known that including lean proteins in your diet is very important. Personally, my dinners don’t feel complete unless there’s a lean protein, typically chicken or lean turkey. The easiest and most common lean protein that I prepare for myself is skinless, boneless, chicken tenders. You can season them anyway you want, or even marinate them in a light dressing for a few hours. All you have to do is bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes (until they are not pink inside). The clean up is incredibly easy and I get about 5 to 6 nights worth of dinners out of doing this.
Utilize your microwave
There is no shame in using your microwave. Steamable vegetables are my best friend, especially when it comes to making easy dinners. Once I have my chicken cooked for the week, I change things up by choosing different vegetables every night. I always have at least three to four frozen vegetables in my freezer at any time. You can also steam non-frozen produce by putting them in a bowl with a few tablespoons water, covering the top and cooking them in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Another thing to use the microwave for are sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a great addition to a weeknight meal. The best part is they cook up quick in the microwave. Stab the sweet potato with a knife or fork around the potato five to six times. Cook in the microwave for about four minutes, then flip it on the other side and cook for four more minutes.
Stock up on staples
Set yourself up for success and have some staple items on hand. Unlike typical meal prep, I don’t necessarily plan out my entire week. I tend to rotate through the same couple meals throughout the week, so I usually know what things I should have on hand. This takes the guesswork out of planning out a meal and is especially useful when I’m hangry come dinner time. Some staple items I always keep in my pantry is ‘boil in the bag’ brown rice. This cooks up super quick, and if I make this on a Monday I’ll have more than enough for at least one or two additional meals. I also always have a can of diced tomatoes. My favorite thing to do with these are to put them in a pan with some bell peppers or mushrooms. They’re easy to cook with and they really give any boring meal that extra flavor you’re looking for. Lastly, I always have different spices and seasonings on hand. These really depends on your personal preference but garlic salt and paprika are my go-tos. I also don’t always think to buy a fresh lemon at the grocery store so I keep one of those lemon juice bottles on hand to give my chicken or veggies some extra flavor.
Meal prep does not have to be strenuous or intimidating. It’s okay to meal prep in your own way that works for you. Even if you meal prep one thing for the week, such as lean protein, figuring out the rest can be simple!
Written by GUADS staff member Emily