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Meal Prep Tips from a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Whenever when I say ‘meal prep,’ I am talking about meals that are made ahead of time – which can be anything at all! Gone are the days when ‘meal prep’ just means chicken, broccoli and rice in a container for 5 days straight. That is boring and…sort of yucky.

My favorite meal prep tip is to make 1 bulk recipe per week, and buy salad kits to fill in the gaps. Check out the YDF Resource Hub for Bulk Recipes that are tried and true! (Here is my favorite Lemon Herb Cous Cous salad.) Monday through Wednesday, we like to eat a bulk recipe topped with protein. Then by Thursday, we run out or are tired of it, so we do quick and easy salad kits with some sautéed protein for the top (like ground turkey, chicken, or shrimp). Now, let’s tackle your specific problems.

Meal Prep Problems and Solutions

Meal prep tips for all of your meal prep problems!

Problem: I always intend to meal prep…but it never happens!

Solution: Prep your meals immediately after returning from the grocery store.

  • Want hard boiled eggs each breakfast at work?
    Boil them before you put the carton in the fridge!
  • Want grapes as a fresh afternoon snack?
    Wash them, take them off the vine, and pack them into snack baggies or tupperware!

Problem: How do I store my foods?

Solution: Any way that works for you! I recommend getting a large set of plastic or glass tupperware. But if you think the dishes will block you from your health goals, maybe plastic bags and foil are the way you need to go.

Problem: My fridge is too small!

Solution: Here are some fantastic ways to save on fridge space for meal prep.

  • Prep your dry ingredients only – this still saves on time, but not as much.
    • Example: Overnight oats. Put the oats, cinnamon, chia seeds etc. into a jar/tupperware and put it into the pantry! The night before, take 1 out of the pantry to add your milk and yogurt and put it in the fridge!
  • Remember those grapes? Wash them, remove the stems, but keep them in their original bag instead of in individual containers
  • Mix ingredients that will be used together.
    • Dice onion, red peppers and green peppers? Keep them in 1 container together if you are using them all in your morning omelettes.

Problem: I don’t enjoy cooking and food prep.

Solution: Buy pre-cooked and pre-prepped!

  • Proteins: rotisserie chickens, tuna packets or cans, smoked salmon, precooked shrimp
  • Produce: everything comes pre-chopped these days. Convenience comes at a cost, though.

Meal Prep Tips for Bowls

So you want to have delicious bowls for lunches all week?

  • Bases: Make all of the rice ahead of time – or use mixed greens!
  • Toppings: Chop your veggies, drain your beans, slice your limes – whatever you want!
  • Proteins: For food safety, it’s not the best idea to eat leftovers 5 days later. In my house, we usually follow the 3 day rule. So that means Sunday’s meat prep can be eaten through Wednesday. And on Wednesday, you will need to make more if you plan on having bowls the next couple of days.

Additional Notes

  • Make large portions for your dinner and meal prep is a breeze – cooking for two? Double or triple the recipe to end up with lots of leftovers. Cook one time, eat many times.
  • Some items do not last 5 days, so use your smarts here. Maybe you prep 80% of meals on Sunday and on Wednesday night, you finish up and chop the last few things.

Finally, meal prep can be for ANYONE not just bodybuilders eating chicken with rice and broccoli every day. For me, meal prep is a way to save time and eat healthy. Save yourself the stress and hassle of worrying about every meal!

In Good Health,

Lindsey Hudsmith, RDN

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