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- Weekly Food Prep Creates Easier, Faster and Healthier Meals
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
|Photo Credit: Darnise Starr|
Weekly Food Prep Creates Easier, Faster and Healthier Meals, By Angela Gallo, LSN, DTR
March 27, 2010 at 11:45am
Days filled with to many things to do, too many people to see and too many places to go can leave meal-making another chore on the to-do list. By the end of the day, we are often tired, hungry and in a rush to get a meal on the table. Stress and lack of time is a bad recipe for unhealthy eating, but there are ways to make it easier. Weekly meal prep can get you organized for meal times, get your meal on the table faster and help you eat healthier. And, as an added bonus, weekly meal prep can be a fun family or friend activity!
First decide on a day that works best to plan your meals for the week. Once you’ve decided on your meals and ingredients, you’ll be prepared to visit the grocery store.
I like to divide my meal prep by fruits, vegetables and meats. Here is an example of a weekly meal prep and how you can incorporate it into all of your meals. I’d estimate about 1.5 hours for weekly meal prep.
Shopping list:Mandarin oranges, light fruit juice
Pineapple tidbits, in own juices
Grapes, green and or red, seedless
Low sugar orange juice
Prep:Drain canned fruits and pour into a large plastic container. Add in grapes and cut up bananas. Pour the low sugar orange juice in the container, enough to cover the fruits so that the fruit does not brown. Keep in the refrigerator and each time you need a fruit serving you can scoop out with a measuring cup. Other idea is to place the fruit into one cup plastic containers and store stacked in the refrigerator.
Serving Ideas:In addition to serving as a nice fruit mix, you can also mix a serving with cottage cheese, add to your cereal or add to a smoothie.
Each week you can change your mixed fruit combination for more variety.
Recipe idea:Fluffy Fruit Salad
20 oz .can of pineapple tidbits packed in own juices
11 oz. can of mandarin oranges packed in light syrup
8 oz. fat-free whipped topping
24 oz. fat-free cottage cheese
1 box fat-free, sugar-free orange gelatin
Drain the pineapple and mandarin oranges and mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
1 cup = 1 dairy and 1 fruit.
Baby grape tomatoes
Sun dried tomatoes
Prep:Clean each vegetable and chop into small pieces (a food chopper makes this task a breeze). Place chopped vegetables together in a plastic container and refrigerate.
Serving Ideas:This mix is great for a salad when combined with lettuce or mixed field greens or added to your favorite sandwich. You can also dip these vegetables in fat free salad dressing for a nice healthy snack. If kept in an airtight container, the vegetables should keep for up to six days.
Prep:Clean each vegetable and chop into bite-size pieces. Store vegetables separately in airtight containers.
Serving Ideas:These vegetables are also great for a salad, sandwiches or all together as a stir-fry dish. Spray cooking spray in a frying pan, add vegetables and then season with black pepper, red pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
The vegetables can also be added to a low-fat homemade pizza or eaten individually with your favorite fat-free dressing
By pre-cutting your vegetables, you increase your chance of actually using your vegetables. Used in meals, a salad or by themselves, thee vegetables are not only healthy, but filling.
Shopping List:Canned chicken breast or turkey breast (97 or 99 percent fat-free)
Lean ground beef (96 percent fat-free)
Chicken Breast Prep:Open several 4-5 large breasts and drain in a colander with running water for several minutes to decrease the sodium. Once fully drained, season chicken breasts with garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and red pepper (or seasoning of choice). Chicken breast can be grilled in bulk. Add marinara or BBQ sauce for flavor, but only in small amounts to limit sodium intake. Place in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Serving Ideas:Add a serving to your salad, sandwich, pita, wrap, low fat pizza, low fat fajitas or tacos. Chicken breasts are a meal by itself and can save a lot of time by prepping earlier in the week. Chicken breasts are also great for low fat casseroles.
Ground Beef Prep:Cook several pounds of ground beef (based on family size). Use some of the ground beef and make into patties. The rest of the ground beef should be kept crumbled in a container to add to your favorite recipes like meatloaf, pizza, low fat pasta or tacos. Cooked meat will keep up to four days.
When you commit to weekly meal planning, you will find it saves you time, energy and ensures healthier meals that include all of your necessary food groups throughout the week.