Hey there beautiful people, I hope you’re all doing really well!
Last month, I ran a lot of polls on my IG and FB stories and asked you guys a lot of questions about what you’d like to see more of from me and meal prep was by far the most voted for answer.
I feel there’s no better time to share this post than right now – starting a new year after having indulged in lots of delicious food and drinks over the holidays.
Now, as many of you know by now, I am pregnant – I stopped sharing meal prep ideas and recipes, which I normally would on my IG and FB accounts during my first trimester because all I wanted was bread and pasta and I couldn’t bring myself to cook or eat anything else. Now that I’m well into my second trimester, I’m back to my regular diet – with the exclusion of a few things here and there or the inclusion of a craving. So, I’m going to share all my tips and things that help me stay on track with my healthy eating, feel full and satisfied and save a lot of time!
Before I get into it, I have shared meal prepping ideas here in the past, there’s a lot of helpful info so please have a look by clicking on the links below:
Here are some easy ways to incorporate meal prep into your weekly routine, save time, reduce waste and eat better.
I do not like meal prepping full meals, because I HATE eating the same thing over and over again, so here I’m going to show you how to meal prep components and how to use them in different meals.
- Choose and cook protein (optional)
- Prepare 1 to 2 savory snacks
- Prepare 1 sweet snack / dessert
- Cook 1 to 2 grains
- Decide on breakfast
- Grill plenty of veggies
- Wash and prep lettuce leaves / herbs
Start by cooking protein source of choice, if using.
I like using chicken breast and by far the easiest and tastiest way I’ve found to prep this is to slice in small pieces and marinate while I prepare everything else. Then simply grill until cooked through.
My fave chicken marinade is:
lemon zest + garlic + salt & pepper + olive oil.
Allow to marinade for at least an hour or overnight. Then grill in a non stick pan until cooked well, allow to cool and store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Use in pasta salads, shred and use in sandwiches or use in easy, quick dinner wraps.
I add a wholegrain wrap to a non stick pan on low heat, add a light layer of shredded mozzarella, then cooked chicken breast, and any veggies / beans I have on hand – this time it was just tomatoes, artichoke hearts and rocket leaves, then top everything with any dip I make for the week -this time it was tzatziki (more info below). Then close, press, transfer to a plate and enjoy.
Once you have all the components ready, these take just a couple of minutes to put together and make a really satisfying lunch or dinner.
As would a nice pasta or rice salad you could easily use the grilled chicken in.
Prepare savory snacks
I LOVE making dips – from a nice hummus to a tasty tzaziki, to a simple bean and artochoke dip to an aubergine babaganoush – dips make excellent snacks, can be used with veggie sticks, crackers, in sandwiches, in wraps (as seen above) and can even be used as dressings in salads and pasta salads.
The recipes for all the dips I mention here are in the blog post linked blow
I like making two different dips – at the moment I love using tzatiki to nibble on between meals with veggie sticks and crackers and a nice hummus (or roasted veg hummus – yum) to use in sandwiches that we use either for breakfast or a quick lunch and wraps that make a yummy dinner. So good!
Sweet Snacks / dessert
When it comes to preparing something sweet, you could easily opt to purchase something instead of making it (new HNNFood launch coming next week YEY). But I find that preloading something really simple for when that sweet tooth hits is a really helpful way to avoid binging on stuff that isn’t so great for us.
My current obsessions: dates stuffed with nut butter and my 3-ingredient Energy bites
Here’s the recipe for these delicious energy bites: THREE ingredient energy bites
There are also many ideas in the Sweet Snack Meal Prep post linked above.
You’ll find MANY more recipes for healthy sweet treats if you go to my HOME page and click on the RECIPES tab. You can also find ready made snacks / food available for order in the HNNFOOD tab – available again from next week.
Cook 1 to 2 grains
I love using brown rice and heartier grains in my dishes, whether I’m making a nice stir fry or fried rice for dinner or taking a rice salad to work with me. Cooking grains beforehand is SO HELPFUL – brown rice can take up to 50 minutes to cook. Preparing this in advance saves so much time on those busy week nights.
Once cooked, grains last up to 5 days in the fridge if kept properly – provided they are kept plain and nothing is added.
I also like cooking a lentil / pea pasta in advance for lunches and quick dinners.
Here I pre-cooked a pea pasta (made from peas not wheat – higher in protein, lower in carbs and wheat free – and used it in a:
Warm pasta salad with tons of grilled veg, boiled eggs, some cheese and lettuce leaves
Cold pasta salad with tuna, mozzarella, salad leaves and olive oil
As a side with my ricotta omelette.
Decide on breakfast
So I find that breakfast is the most versatile meal and doesn’t require much prep. The options are limitless. You could easily opt for a good healthy cereal like a weetabix / oatabix / cheerios option and just have that with some milk and fruit if you don’t want to add time to your prep work.
Or perhaps you’re like me and nothing beats eggs on toast – YUM!
Another option is having some yoghurt with fresh fruit – you could go the extra mile here and prep a nice big fruit salad to have this option ready for breakfast or snacking. Here’s my recipe for the BEST breakfast banana bread Banana Bread 2.0
You could also prepare a nice healthy banana bread that would make a great breakfast on the go.
Overnight oats are an EXCELLENT option and the flavour combos are endless so there’s no getting bores of them! Here are some overnight oat ideas Overnight oats – Five ways 😋
Alternatively, I like preparing my porridge in a pot on the stove in the to have ready for the next morning – all I’ll then do is add the milk / water and cook for a few mins.
Grill veggies and wash / store salad leaves
One of the most helpful, useful tips mum ever gave me when it comes to food, is to always, ALWAYS store salad leaves in boxes lined with paper towels!!!! This removes the moisture and makes them last SO MUCH LONGER.
Have you even purchased a pack of lettuce leaves and had it go bad within one to two days? I certainly have – lining your storage container with paper towels will help them last up to a week!
Grilled VEG – there’s no real science to this, just add all the veggies you’d like to use to an over tray with some olive oil, salt and pepper and perhaps some dried herbs or spices, grill and use throughout the week.
I also love adding a whole head of garlic wrapped in foil to my over tray. Roasted garlic is absolutely lovely in dressings and dips!
I use my roasted veggies:
As a side when cooking protein such as chicken
To mix with warm or cold pasta and rice dishes
In dips (see roasted veg hummus)
In salads to give some contrast with raw veg
The extras I like to prep are:
Boiled eggs – they make a great snack, breakfast or addition to any salad or pasta salad
Fresh fruit salads – this will depend on the fruit I have on any given week; I don’t prep bananas, apples and pears for example as they turn brown however I do like to clean and chop other fruits like strawberries, mango and so on. I use these on top of cereal bowls, over porridge or added to yogurts for a snack.
Cooking dried beans – If and when I do remember to soak my beans the night before, I like using this meal prep time to cook a batch of beans. Canned varieties are fine but I do like cooking my own and adding any flavour addition I fancy at the time.
Salad Dressings: here are some of my fave salad dressings Summer salads – how to dress them 🤤
Step 1: Marinate your protein – if using
Step 2: prep your veggies and start grilling
Step 3: boil eggs then allow to cool, peel and store in fridge
Step 4: cook grains and beans
Step 5: Make dips and refrigerate
Step 6: add salad leaves to paper towel lined boxes and refrigerate
Step 7: prep veggies for dipping – then store in paper towel lined boxes in the fridge
Step 8: start working on sweet treats.
Step 9: prep breakfast items
By the time you’ve made and stored dips and sweet treats, your grains and grilled veg will be just about done. Once the stove is clear:
Step 10: Cook protein
Store everything in airtight containers in the fridge once cool and enjoy throughout the week 🙂
That’s it from me for today – make sure you ‘follow’ the blog to receive an email every time I post :~)
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Until my next post, be well xXx