meal prep

How to Mix and Match Foods for Better Meal Prepping

Why Meal Prep?

Meal prepping is a trending behavior, and there are so many reasons why. Devoting time to prepping meals is a smart way to eat healthier, saving both time and money, and gaining control over what and how much you eat.

There is no silver bullet to meal prepping, so if you’re just getting started, sample different ideas to find an approach that feels right for you. Meal prepping can involve making multi-serving meals to portion and store so they’re ready to re-heat and eat. But meal prepping can also mean pre-cooking, or even just pre-preparing ingredients, so you don’t have to start cooking from scratch. 

Prep on the Weekend

One savvy strategy that works for many people is to prep on the weekend for the coming week. This can be as simple as washing and chopping vegetables so they’re ready to cook, or pre-cooking a number of foods that can later be mixed and matched to create various meals.  

3 Core Meal Component Groups

Veggies

If you’re going to pre-cook several meal components, divide them into three key groups: vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy starches. Veggie prep can be as simple as purchasing ready-to-eat greens to stash in your fridge. You can also dress chilled vegetables or greens in herbed balsamic vinaigrette, pre-make healthy salad dressing so it’s ready to use, or sauté, grill, or oven roast a variety of vegetables to be re-heated when needed.

Lean Proteins

Prepping lean proteins can be as easy as stashing canned beans or wild salmon in the fridge, so they’re chilled and ready to add to salads. You can also cook and store hard boiled eggs, chicken breast, extra lean ground turkey, or seafood. Toss beans, chopped hard boiled eggs or canned salmon with jarred pesto, hummus, or seasoned tahini to pre-make quick protein salads. Or purchase a cooked rotisserie chicken for a meal prep super shortcut.

Healthy Starches

For starches, store pre-cooked whole grains, like brown or wild rice and quinoa, as well as starchy vegetables, including baked sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes, and oven roasted butternut or spaghetti squash.

Mixing and Matching

When you have these components at the ready, all you need to do is decide how to put them together. For complete meals don’t forget to add a healthy fat, like extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or EVOO-based pesto, olive tapenade, avocado, nuts, or seeds. For example, toss a generous portion of roasted or sautéed veggies with spaghetti squash and diced chicken breast, served over a bed of greens. Make a grain bowl by topping a small scoop of quinoa with greens, roasted or sautéed veggies, lentils, and drizzle with a spoonful of pesto. Pair a generous portion of grilled veggies with black beans, brown rice, and a side of avocado. Stir fry pre-cut veggies in vegetable broth, seasoned with ginger, garlic, and chili pepper, paired with steamed shrimp over wild rice, topped with sliced almonds.

Another way to meal prep is to make a second meal at dinner time and pack it for lunch the next day. These simple and practical meal prepping solutions can help you avoid poor eating pitfalls and give you the tools to eat healthfully for the long haul.

How do you Meal Prep?

Please share your own tips and tricks--as well as the meals from our website you like to make ahead--as part of your meal prep routine. Show us by tagging us on Instagram @naturesgreens and use #backtofresh. Your tip could be selected and featured on our account!

4 Simple Steps to Weekly Meal Prep

shutterstock_625954406 - 2.jpg

We know how hectic this time of year can be.

With the weather warming up, the extra hour of daylight each evening, and the flurry of spring-time activities, you want to spend more of your time with your family and friends and less time preparing meals in the kitchen. 

You’re looking for meals that come together quickly at the end of the day, but still provide plenty of fresh, nutritious, and delicious food for your family. The best way to achieve this goal is to take the time to prepare for the week ahead with a couple hours of meal prepping on your Sundays. 

Never meal prepped before? We’ll walk you through the process.

#1: Select your recipes.

What meals are you in the mood for this week? What fresh produce is currently in season? Visit our collection of recipes on our website and find inspiration for what you want to eat during the upcoming week. Take note of the recipes that you know you and your family will enjoy.

#2: Set the menu for the week.

Go ahead and map out your week. Who will be home each night for dinner? Which evenings will you be short on time?What ingredients or meals can you easily prepare ahead of time for the nights you need a quick meal? By setting your game plan, you’re setting yourself up for success. You’ll be able to grocery shop efficiently, cut out the last minute fast food decisions, and eliminate the stress of figuring out what to cook for dinner. Put it in writing and stick it to your fridge for a visual reminder throughout the week of your plan.

#3: Create your grocery list and shop.

Once you know what meals you plan to cook, create your grocery list and shop. You can use an app for your grocery list, such as Our Groceries, to organize your list and to easily have it on hand when you’re shopping. 

Pro Tip: use a delivery service like Shipt to shop at Publix, and save even more time each week without the hassle of going to the grocery store yourself. 

#4: Prepare ingredients and meals on Sunday evenings.

After you’ve completed your grocery shopping, start your prepping. Take a look at each recipe to see what you can prepare ahead of time. Are there dry ingredients that you can measure out? Is there poultry that you can go ahead and cook? What vegetables can you chop and store in your refrigerator? There will be some things that you can’t do in advance, but you’d be surprised at how many items you can go ahead and have ready.

Here’s how we’d meal prep on Sunday for our Mediterranean Collard Greens over Spaghetti Squash meal:

  1. Purchase our Versatile Veggies® Diced Yellow Onion and Nature’s Greens® Collard Greens.

  2. Measure out all of the dry ingredients, place in small container, and seal. We personally use mason jars for dry goods.

  3. Mince the garlic and chop the green bell pepper. Place in small Pyrex container, seal, and store in your refrigerator.

  4. Cook the spaghetti squash, remove from the rind, and store in your refrigerator in a sealed container.

MedVeggies-3.jpg

When it comes time to prepare dinner, all of your chopping and most of your measuring is complete! Your prep time is eliminated, and you can have dinner on the table in under 15 minutes. How great is that?

What do you plan to do with all of the extra time that you gain during the week thanks to meal prepping?

Share your meal prepping photos with us on social media using the hashtags #backtofresh and #naturesgreens, and be sure to tag us! We’d love to see what you’re cooking in your kitchen, and how you’re incorporating our meal prep tips into your week.