As a Registered Dietitian, I am often asked to share one piece of advice for a successful healthy lifestyle. Two words: food prep. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Ugh, that’s so much work. I have 4 kids and am a full time working parent. There has to be a simpler way.” Not so fast, food prep doesn’t necessarily mean you spend an entire day every week devoted to writing down recipes, shopping, and preparing elaborate meals for each night of the week. Let’s be honest, most of us don’t have that amount of time or dedication. Personally, I’m all about making small changes and doing what works for you. If all you have time for is preparing one bulk healthy snack, or one grain for the week, that’s OK! Do what works for your lifestyle, and know any food prep activity is a step towards a healthier lifestyle. Below are my favorite food prep items I prepare on a weekly basis. Try one, or try them all!
- Grain -Quinoa is a go-to because it has a high protein content. Cooking brown rice, wheat berries, or any other whole grain is the perfect pairing to add to lunches or dinners.
- Beans and Lentils – Protein packed and high in fiber, these are great to have on hand for snacks or tossing into a salad.
- Chicken or Lean Meat of Choice – Baking enough chicken to have either every night or a few nights makes for a less stressful evening after work.
- Hardboiled eggs -I love eggs! Don’t be afraid of the cholesterol either. Keeping egg intake to 6 or less per week is perfectly fine. An egg sliced on toast with avocado is the quickest breakfast I can make. Hot summer nights might call for a vegetarian cobb salad with farmer’s market veggies, beans, and a sliced egg on top.
- Breakfast oats – If you’re pressed for time in the AM, try making a large batch of overnight oats. Although I don’t have exact measurements for my own oat creations, Pinterest is perfect for whipping up ideas. Simply scoop a ¼- ½ serving into a bowl and enjoy the great benefits of health and flavor.
- Trail mix -Trader Joe’s has some really great no-sugar added or oil-added trail mixes. Other select stores carry various brands that are labeled as ‘raw’, meaning no added- sugar, salt, or oil. Pre-portioning into snack baggies sets you up for successful snacking any time of day.
- Chop Veggies – Pre-cutting vegetables makes for no-excuses when it comes to enjoying a fresh bite of nutrients. Toss cut up veggies in your lunch box for a side dish or snack. Pre-cut veggies make cooking stir-fry.
- Sauce -Pesto is one of my favorite sauces. Whip up a batch with farmer’s market basil and local cheese. Add to pasta dishes, dollop on grilled salmon, or a smear on a sandwich. Leftover sauce freezes well in ice cube trays (which are 2T servings). Pop one out next time you want to add extra flavor to a dish.