I want to start with a small confession: I love watching others cook and am, in fact, obsessed with cooking shows. There's something soothing and comforting about seeing someone craft a meal with love. But here's the confession.....I actually HATE to cook.
This may shock you coming from a nutrition coach. I have hundreds of recipes and cookbooks lined up in my kitchen, but since my kids left for college, I don't even like to boil water. (My kids will tell you I wasn't that great a chef before they left, LOL)
Maybe you're like me. Or maybe you LOVE to cook but feel overwhelmed with the daily grind of life and struggle to find time. Either way, I'm here to remind you that it doesn't have to take hours in the kitchen or complicated work to eat healthy, or even provide meals for your family.
One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is meal prep. I'm a big fan, as it prevents decision fatigue later in the week. If your fridge is filled with pre-cut veggies and fresh fruit, your less likely to opt for a Twinkie when afternoon hunger hits.
However, meal prep does not have to look like it does on social media. There is no need to be stuck in the kitchen all Sunday. Some of the simplest and healthiest ideas are born out of simple assembly, not 75 pots and pans.
Try these ideas instead - most take around 15 minutes.
Mason Jar Salads
- Put 1-2 Tablespoons of dressing on the bottom
- Add vegetables in order of their sturdiness from bottom to top
- Add protein on top: chicken, flank steak, salmon, tuna, shrimp, crab meat
- Try to eliminate air by filling jar to the top
- Take an extra container to work or on the road where you can dump the contents of the jar and shake the salad
- Add a handful of healthy carbs as your base - quinoa, rice, chickpeas, lentils, beans, whole wheat pasta, bean based pasta - these can be cooked ahead of time and last a full week.
- Add one palm size of protein in top - chicken, flank steak, salmon, tuna, shrimp, crab meat.
- Add unlimited veggies - includes salsa
- Add one thumb size of fat to the top - guacamole, salad dressing, nuts, cheese
Sheet Pan Meals
- Put bone in chicken breast on a sheet pan and sprinkle with salt & pepper.
- Add broccoli, sweet potato, onion, squash, brussel sprouts or any raw veggie of your choice.
- Drizzle a seasoned olive oil on all items. These are often available in the dressing aisle - just make sure it's olive, avocado or coconut oil based.
- Bake in oven on 350 until chicken is cooked through to 165 degrees.
Lastly, being stocked in some key ingredients will make your meal prep so much easier. I've put together for you a shopping list of great meal prep items to keep on hand
Convenient market items for meal prep
- Pre-cooked chicken
- Shrimp cocktail
- Canned tuna
- Pre-cut veggies
- Microwaveable rice and quinoa
- Grabbing items from the salad bar
- Pre-packaged 100 calorie nuts
- Pre-packaged guacamole in individual servings
- Pre-cooked chicken sausage links
- Greek yogurt
- Individual nut butter packets
- Trader Joe's cauliflower rice stir fry
- Add protein, heat and serve
- Daily Harvest grain bowls
- Add protein, heat and serve
Ask me any meal prep questions in the comments and share your ideas!!