After a long day, the last thing you probably want to do is spend time in the kitchen meal prepping. While popping a premade frozen entrée into the microwave is convenient, it probably won’t make you feel well-nourished. So, what are the simplest solutions?
1. Plan ahead by having healthy ingredients in stock for fast, clean meals. When you only buy healthy food items, it’s easy to put together a clean meal that will both satisfy and energize you. Before going to the grocery store, pick a few go-to meals. Then buy the ingredients to have those meals ready to go.
Here are a few ideas for building a fast, health-conscious salad:
- Keep a container of salad greens, such as spinach, romaine lettuce, baby kale or a mixed blend, in the fridge to use as the base of your meal.
- Top the greens with your protein of choice, such as salmon, lentils or hard-boiled eggs.
- Add a healthy fat like sliced avocado, extra virgin olive oil, cashews or fresh olives.
- Mix in a healthy carbohydrate like apple, pear, berries, canned lentils, quinoa or chickpeas. If you want a heartier meal, roast or steam a sweet potato, slice it up and add it to your salad.
- Finally, splash on a little apple cider or red wine vinegar and sprinkle your favorite herbs (fresh or dry), such as basil, dill, ginger or turmeric.
- Toss the ingredients together and enjoy!
2. Pinpoint healthy take-out places. When you don’t have the time or energy to prepare a meal yourself, it can be easy to pick up a greasy pizza or giant burrito. However, when you have a list of nearby healthy restaurant options available, it’s easier to make the right decision.
Pinpoint healthy local take-out places:
- Sushi: Try sashimi or vegetarian sushi (not fried) with a side salad, brown rice and avocado.
- Mexican: Try a taco salad without the deep-fried shell, topped with grilled vegetables, protein (black beans, seafood or chicken), salsa or pico de gallo, and guacamole on top, perhaps followed by a squeeze of fresh lime. Hold the sour cream and dairy-based toppings.
- Mediterranean: Try a salad with the house vinaigrette dressing, lentil soup, or kabobs of chicken or seafood. Make sure to pass on the pita.
- 1 cup frozen fruit, such as strawberries
- 1 ripe banana
- Optional: 1 scoop protein powder of choice (or meal replacement powder with added vitamins and minerals – This can be found at your local health food store.)
- 1 to 2 cups milk of choice or water (You may want to add more milk or water depending on your preference.)
- 1 handful of greens, such as baby kale or spinach
- Blend until smooth, about 30 to 60 seconds, depending on the blender.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!
4. Eat breakfast for dinner. Have a sweet ending to your day by eating breakfast for dinner. One option is to make a yogurt parfait with yogurt, fresh fruit, and muesli or granola. Be sure to look for “No sugar added” on the granola packaged. Another option is oatmeal topped with fresh berries, banana and a spoonful of nut butter. Or try avocado toast. If you feel like cooking, try a breakfast burrito filled with leafy greens, black beans, legumes or lentils, protein (such as chicken, seitan, tofu, or fish), and corn. You can even leave out the tortilla and turn it into a burrito scramble. Top with salsa and skip the sour cream.
5. Have a meal prep day. Pick one day a week (such as Sunday) when you prepare a big batch of something, like vegetable stew or soup, that can easily be stored in the refrigerator or freezer for the week, then portioned out and reheated. Consider making homemade muffins, granola bars or your own trail mix, and pre-portion it for a convenient grab-and-go snack.