Weekly meal prepping is an increasingly growing trend amongst working people who don’t have a lot of time to cook every day. It’s also a useful method for those who are trying to structure their meal portions, and or eat healthier consistently without falling into the temptation of resorting to fast food on their lunch breaks.
I became introduced to meal-prep at the requests of a few of my clients about a year ago. They wanted food that was healthy, flavorful and could be eaten after a quick reheat in the breakroom.
There aren’t any standard rules for meal prep. It just depends on the needs and preferences of the individual. I do recommend prepping meals for only 2-3 days at a time. That way, the food that’s eaten on the last day is still going to taste fresh. For example, you could prep your lunches and dinners on a Sunday evening for Monday & Tuesday. Then on Tuesday evening, prep the meals for Wednesday & Thursday. And so on.
For my clients, I like to diversify the options for each day. That way, it doesn’t feel like they are eating the same thing at every meal. For example, let’s say I’m prepping a client’s lunches & dinners for Monday-Tuesday. I’ll purchase 3 pieces of fish, and 3 pieces of poultry. I alternate the selections with each meal, so if a client wants the fish for lunch, then they’ll have the chicken for dinner.
For the sides? If you aren’t on a strict no-carb or grain diet, I recommend quinoa or rice (brown or multi-grain). Both are easy to whip up. Simply follow the directions on the label to determine how much you’ll need to make, depending on how many meals you are preparing for.
As far as vegetables, I highly recommend that you roast them in the oven and here’s why….
Sautéed vegetables tend to become soggy quicker than those roasted in the oven. Especially those that have a higher content of water–like squash, zucchini, and tomatoes. Besides, vegetables are just more appealing when you bite into them and they still have some crunch. I like to give my client’s variety–in generous portions–to ensure that they feel satisfied after eating. After all, it’s more nutritional to fill up on more veggies than the carbs.
One of the best things about roasting veggies in the oven is that you can literally cook all of them on one large baking tray at the same time. The vegetables I most recommend for this type of oven roasting are zucchini, squash, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, red & yellow peppers, asparagus, beets, red onion (quartered pieces), Roma or plum tomatoes and chopped carrots.
My secret to making the roasted veggies taste amazing is simple: the seasoning. Salt & pepper alone are okay, but you can really make them come alive with a few more spices. Here’s how I prepare mine:
- Preheat the oven to 445 degrees F
- Wash and cut the vegetables up into slices/or small pieces
- In a large bowl or on the pan you wish to bake them in, toss the vegetables around in a few tablespoons of olive oil (So that the seasoning will stick)
- Evenly sprinkle ½ teaspoon of each of the following seasoning over all the veggies: ground turmeric, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, and paprika
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until veggies are slightly charred/crisped
If you are going to bake the fish or chicken, you can prepare it the same way as the vegetables, and in the same pan if there’s room. Sometimes I cut the chicken breast into 4-5 pieces and arrange them alongside the vegetables, then season everything at the same time. Just be sure to drizzle a little olive oil on the pan where you are going to lay the meat/fish so that it doesn’t burn stick to the pan.
Once everything is prepared, you can begin assembling each meal with the desired portions into Tupperware and store in the fridge. When it’s time for each meal, simply pop it in the microwave (if in a microwavable container) for a minute or two and enjoy!