I love to cook and there is nothing I enjoy more than ending my day in the kitchen with a glass of wine. But sometimes I’m just too tired or have other things going on at night and don’t get around to making dinner, which means I end up without leftovers to take for lunch. And when that happens, I end up at Panera. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Panera — I probably eat it a little too much. But I shouldn’t eat it every day, or really any fast casual/fast food on campus — it’s not good for my body and not good for my wallet. To keep myself from eating tomato soup every day, I try to meal prep, at the very least, my lunches for the week every Sunday. A food blogger I am not, so please enjoy this picture of me eating a delicious dessert instead of the horrendous photos I take of the, albeit delicious, food I cook.
Some tips for meal prep newbies:
- Start a note on your phone to save all the delicious recipes you come across — I have so many recipes I forget about until I plan my meals each week!
- Choose one new-to-you ingredient each week and try to make two different meals with it! This can be such a fun challenge depending on the ingredient.
- Organize your shopping list by the section in the store — produce, meat, canned aisle, etc. It makes the shopping experience far less painful, ensures that you remember all the ingredients you need, and protects you from too many impulse purchases.
- Shop the perimeter of the store — that’s where all the good-for-you food is located!
- If you eat meat, purchase when it’s on sale. Put it in the freezer and thaw when needed. Honestly, same goes for canned beans, quinoa, or anything else non-perishable!
- Frozen veggies > canned veggies. Frozen veggies have far less sodium, last just as long, and hold up better in most recipes.
- Be flexible — sometimes you just don’t want to eat what you’ve prepped and that’s ok. But having something already prepped in the fridge means you have fast access to healthier food when hunger strikes!
- Grocery shop one day and meal prep the next. This doesn’t work for me every week, but I usually shop on Saturday and meal prep on Sunday. Bonus: by shopping on Saturday you can avoid the craziness of the Sunday afternoon grocery store rush.
- Invest in some containers so you can portion out your meals and grab and go each morning. I love these glass containers, I bought mine at Target!
Start your own meal prep tradition with some of my favorite recipes!
This salmon thrown on top of a salad is out of this world.
So much flavor in these red curry noodles and it’s so versatile — use whatever protein you want and whatever veggies you have on hand!
This is the best salad I have ever made at home — chicken, bacon, avocado, rosemary…to die for and delicious all week.
A super simple greek salad, add some chicken, and a pita if you’re into that. Easy to transport and full of flavor!
The more color and veggies in my lunch, the better. This curry definitely fits the bill — I bring some rice add dump in once it’s warmed up for some more staying power.
A bit more work and not particularly healthy, but boy the effort is worth it for this chicken pot pie with puff pastry.
I don’t have a Chipotle nearby but I make do with this delicious one skillet meal. Pro tip: an avocado is (usually) cheaper than Chipotle guac so make your own guacamole!
And here’s a few that don’t need a recipe:
Tuna salad — I use greek yogurt instead of mayo, a squeeze of mustard, and add some chopped pickles and banana peppers. Great on salad or a sandwich!
Pasta with all the veggies. Boil a big pot of your favorite pasta, sauté some veggies with garlic in olive oil (I love broccoli, mushroom, peppers, and onions), and then mix them together in the pasta pot after you’ve drained the water. You can also toss in some spinach and let it wilt down. A little freshly grated parm and you’re good to go! [Sometimes I add shrimp too!]
Rotisserie chicken from the market with some roasted veggies! I’ve been on a sweet potato, asparagus, and broccoli kick lately.
And when in doubt, just do it the Italian way and put together a meat and cheese platter. I’ll just be dreaming about this heavenly meal from last summer in Florence.
I’m always looking for new recipes to try! Share your favorites please!