5 Tips That Make Meal Prep Possible Every Single Week
Yes, we do mean it. Every. Single. Week.
In this series, we're showing off some of the coolest recipes, tips and tricks we've learned from chefs in the all-new Food Network Kitchen app.
I have a controversial opinion: I love leftovers — which is maybe why I love meal prep so much! If you’re not someone like me who could eat the same thing for days in a row, I am a firm believer that meal prep can still be for you! If you’ve cooked along with me live on the new Food Network Kitchen app, you've probably heard about how much I rely on Sunday meal prepping to help me get ahead for the week. I’m a big believer that meal prepping helps me eliminate stress and allows me to be more efficient in the kitchen. Here are a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way to make meal prep enjoyable and an easy way to start the week ahead.
Mix-and-match to avoid eating the same thing every day.
Depending on how you like to eat, you have a couple of options for meal prep: If you don't mind eating the same thing for days on end, you could make one or two dishes to reheat throughout the week. If you like to mix it up every day, you'll want to prep a few meal components including proteins, vegetables and a grain that you can mix and match into different meals throughout the week. Maybe one day you eat them in a rice bowl, and the next you mix your protein of choice and roasted vegetables up in salad. Pick the method that feels right for you; there's no "right" way to prep!
Sauces are meal prep staples.
Once I started making my own dressing at home I couldn't stop! I love to mix up a small batch of vinaigrette each week for my salads, and have a few bottled sauces or salsa on-hand. These sauces can be mixed with proteins or vegetables in a mix-and-match method to dramatically transform them into totally different meals with little to no effort at all.
Invest in good storage containers.
When I made the decision to focus on bringing my own lunch to work, I knew one of the biggest challenges would be actually getting it to the office. Investing in containers that I wanted to look at and eat out of for a long time was a total game-changer. Now I own glass containers that feel so much more fancy to me than classic plastic containers and I still reach for them like a regular bowl!
Use your freezer.
I live in New York City and my freezer is tiny, but I still find a way to maximize it to keep staples on-hand for those moments when meal prep just doesn’t go as planned. Things like some frozen vegetables for a stir fry, fruit for a smoothie or cauliflower gnocchi become life-savers when I need a quick meal that I wasn't planning for.
Don’t forget about breakfast.
There's definitely a focus on lunch and dinner when it comes to meal prep, but making a batch of hard-boiled eggs or overnight oats at the beginning of the week can make mornings run a little smoother. And if you’re hesitant about diving into full lunches or dinners for meal prep, starting with some smaller breakfast items can be a less intimidating way to wade into it.
At the end of the day, meal prep is meant to make your life easier — not more stressful! I’m a big believer that getting meals planned and groceries stocked up also helps save some serious dollars and gives you more time to enjoy your personal life. If you're looking for a recipe to start with, my favorite meal prep dish is Chicken Dill Meatballs with Green Rice. You can get my recipe on the Food Network Kitchen app and make it for a family dinner or for lunch for the week. Either way, I hope you find it makes your life a little easier and a bit more delicious!