MEAL PREP 101 - HIGHLIGHTS FROM MFW + YELP WORKSHOP
This post is dedicated to the amazing, engaging, enthusiastic folks who attended my Yelp San Francisco "Meal Prep 101" workshop. I was so honored to spend an hour discussing the power of nutrition with you and I hope to see you harnessing it through your own meal prep routines soon!
MFW MEAL PREP IN 2-3 HOURS
My meal prep routine is a little different each week, depending on what's on the calendar for the week ahead, if we're traveling, how much time I have to dedicate to cooking on the weekend and of course what kind of mood I'm in (cause human). Regardless of these constantly changing factors, preparing at least a little food at home is an integral part of any healthy diet and relationship with food, so I try to make it happen to some extent (even if that's just steaming some greens)! Whether you have a little time or plenty, or can cook like a pro or don't know how to boil water, below are some fool proof steps, tips and things to consider when setting yourself up for a week of healthier eating fueled by meal prep.
- STEP 1: Determine how much TIME you have to meal prep and how much time you're aiming to save during the week. Don't have 2-3 hours to prep? No worries. See the time-saving tips below!
- STEP 2: Consider the NUTRITIONAL BOXES you want to check for well rounded, nourishing, satisfying meals and snacks.
- PROTEIN: Some great options for plant-based or animal protein include roasted chicken, wild caught fish fillets or legumes like lentils, chickpeas and black beans.
- STARCH: My favorite source of stick to your ribs complex carbohydrates include starchy vegetables like parnsips, butternut squash, kabocha or delicata squash and sweet potato. I occasionally do brown or black rice too. Quinoa is also a good choice.
- VEGGIES: The green/non-starchy vegetables usually on my list? Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, Swiss chard and pre-washed mixed salad greens.
- HEALTHY FATS: I usually opt for avocados or raw or dry-roasted and unsalted nuts and seeds for my healthy fats. I also cook with coconut, olive or avocado oils to get them in effortlessly!
- STEP 3: SAUCE it up! I always pick 1 dressing and/or 1 sauce to prepare to drizzle on salads, buddha bowls and veggie tacos. This variation on a Detoxinista recipe is my all time fave dressing; my chipotle drizzle is addictive and perfect for lovers of Mexican cuisine; oh and you'll want to swim in this herb drizzle that's SUPER easy and fast to make!
- STEP 4: Make your LIST and plan to SHOP before Sunday. We divide and conquer in our house to keep costs down where possible. I order some things online, the hubs hits Trader Joe's and Safeway and I do the Whole Foods run!
- STEP 5: Get COOKING and make it fun! Invite a friend over to catch up, chat about your day with your partner, zone out and play your favorite tunes, heck even throw on some Netflix! Do what you need to do to make it enjoyable and manageable instead of a chore!
MFW TYPICAL MEAL PREP
If I only have 1 HOUR: roast 2 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts + steam leafy greens + steam broccoli + make simple sauce or dressing (when I have little or time to prep, I will supplement w/ prepped food from clean restaurants like Kitava or a lite bite)
If I have 2 HOURS: All of the above PLUS roast squash or sweet potato + roast cauliflower
If I have 3 HOURS: All of the above PLUS + roast carrots + steam zucchini for smoothies + chop raw veggies for snacking
MAKE IT FASTER- time savers
- Buy pre-chopped veggies like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, etc. at Trader Joes.
- Buy pre-washed greens for salads.
- Clean & store for freshness as soon as you get home (I salad spin my lettuce, wrap in paper tower and store in a stasher bag). PS. Use code MISFIT on their site for a 15% discount on my favorite non-toxic food storage option!
- No time to cook a protein? Buy a rotisserie chicken, de-bone and store in an airtight container to use during the week OR try plant-based protein like canned chickpeas instead. Just look for BPA free cans and opt for organic and "no salt added" if possible when purchasing any canned food.
- Multi-task! I steam 1 veggie on one stovetop burner, sauté another on a second burner then roast 2 different kinds of veggies on my 2 oven racks all at the same time. While these things are cooking you can prep your protein to cook or chop raw veggies for salads and snacks!
- Don't be afraid of frozen vegetables, which are picked and frozen at peak freshness. I use these in smoothies and soups often. If you don't have time to cook freshies, do the best you can!
- Consider using a mandoline slicer like the one in the photo above, a slap-chopper or a small food processor to significantly cut your chopping time down!
- Get creative with meal formats. Smoothies and overnight oats take 5 minutes to make and are excellent sources of well rounded nutrition. Mason jar salads or tupperware buddha bowls are great for on the go meals and take 5 minutes to throw together with meal prepped goods.
- Don't be afraid to supplement w/ prepped food from clean restaurants like Kitava or a lite bite if you need to, ESPECIALLY when you're starting out with meal prep! Remember this is about doing the best you can to cook a little more at home. Progress not perfection!
MAKE IT CHEAPER
- Bulk bins are your new best friend (think Whole Foods, local health food stores; in SF Bay Area: Rainbow Grocery, Berkely Bowl). You're not paying for packaging here so you'll get great prices on everything from nuts and seeds to grains like rice and quinoa.
- Hit up sites like my favorite Vitacost (or I hear Thrive Market is great) for non-perishables and pricier staples like nut butters and superfoods that you know you'll always need and use regularly
- Visit Trader Joe's for reasonably priced pre-chopped veggies and prepped whole foods like brown rice and oatmeal
- Make quarterly runs to Costco for things you use in high enough volume daily. We get our olive oil, coconut oil, coconut water and sometimes wild caught fish from Costco!
- Discount codes on social media can offer pretty significant savings. Bloggers like your girl here post discount codes all the time for products we love and use in our recipes. Mine are:
MAKE IT DELISH
- Play around with spices to effortlessly infuse variety AND harness the incredible power of food. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory (toss your cauliflower or sweet potatoes in it before baking). Cinnamon is a delish add to smoothies and starchy vegetables and helps stabilize blood sugar. Experiment with blends like curry, garam masala or Chinese 5 spice for perfect ways to add flavor without added time or energy.
- Incorporate simple sauces to tie everything together and ensure you're creating delectable meals you'll look forward to eating. Check out the recipe tab of my site for plenty of ideas!
- Find one dressing that you love enough to drink it out of the jar. This variation on a Detoxinista recipe is my all time fave dressing and it's killer flavors like this that make you far more likely to reach for those meal prepped goodies to assemble a meal!
- Get creative with colors, textures and foods you haven't tried before. In the past year or two I've fallen in love with persimmon, romanesco, purple sweet potatoes and sunchokes - all things I hadn't eaten until I was at least 30!
- Let restaurant menus or childhood favorites inspire you. Don't be afraid to experiment with creating healthier variations of the things you know you love already!