Follow these 6 Steps for a One Hour Meal Prep
I work full time, but make eating well my top priority. Most weekdays I bring my breakfast, lunch and many snacks with me to work. I don’t have a lot of time to prepare these each morning, especially if I am trying to get a workout in, but I also hate to eat the same thing every single day. I have tried being the person who packs 15 rectangle food containers each Sunday night with 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 5 dinners for the work week, but I get too bored and also enjoy my Sundays way too much to spend 5 hours in the kitchen. As a compromise I have come up with a way to prepare foods for the week that takes me about an hour on Sunday and allows me to craft varied breakfast, lunches, dinners and snacks for most of the week.
By following the instructions below I am able to cook up a variety of foods that I can use immediately for a healthy Sunday meal or pack away for the rest of the week. The trick to this meal prep is to follow the steps in the order listed so that you are utilizing the full hour. Also, it helps to have a decent size oven and multiple burners. If you have a smaller kitchen or are a less experienced home cook this may take you a bit longer than an hour. That said I live in a small basement apartment so you definitely don’t need fancy equipment or ingredients for this. This is meal prep made easy.
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
I use my oven to cook many things at once while I meal prep and I’ve found that setting the temperature at 400F is a good compromise to ensure that my proteins stay juicy and my roasted vegetables get crispy. I use parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet on every baking service to make clean up much easier.
2. Season chicken, fish, tofu or other protein and place in the oven to bake.
I usually buy boneless skinless chicken breast or fish that is already cut into filets so that my protein prep is minimal. I will prioritize getting this in the oven before my veggies because I don’t have to spend any time chopping and it can sometimes take a bit longer to cook. If I have some extra time, I will marinate chicken or tofu for a few hours before I start cooking, but if I don’t I will do something really simple like season chicken breasts with cracked black pepper, pink Himalayan sea salt, oregano and lemon slices and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, depending on the size of the breast.
3. Place eggs on the stove to hard boil. Cook a whole grain on the stovetop or in a rice cooker. Steam cauliflower for smoothies.
Once my protein is in the oven I move on to my stovetop. I hard-boil 4-6 pasture raised eggs so that I can eat them as a quick breakfast, afternoon snack, or on top of a salad for lunch or dinner. I also will either cook a few servings of brown rice in my rice cooker or some quinoa on the stovetop. Each week I buy a head of cauliflower. I chop it into florets and steam and freeze half for smoothies throughout the week. The other half I roast in the oven.
4. Chop and season vegetables for roasting.
Once I have all of my stovetop foods going I move on to chopping my veggies. My favorites are brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and sweet potatoes. I do a rough chop on all of them and season with either avocado or coconut oil and simple seasonings like salt, pepper, turmeric and garlic powder depending on my mood. Most of the time I just do oil, salt and pepper.
5. Make a homemade dressing or sauce in the blender.
By the time my veggies are in the oven it’s usually time to check on my eggs, grains, and cauliflower on the stove top. I will also check on my protein if it is something that I need to flip or shift for even coking. Then I go to my blender to make a homemade dressing or sauce that I can use on salads, grain bowls or wraps all week. I love homemade dressings because I can make them exactly like I like them (very acidic!!) and I don’t have to worry about any processed or harmful ingredients that are usually present in store bought bottled dressings. Lately I have been on a big tahini dressing kick, but I also love creamy cashews sauces for a dairy free option.
6. Pack food in storage containers and clean up!
When I do Sunday meal prep like this I usually make enough food for breakfast, lunches and dinners until Wednesday or Thursday. At that point in the week I can supplement by cooking some more chicken, eggs or roasted veggies. Planning my meals out ahead of time can be extremely restricting, but prepping food this way allows me some creativity, flexibility and the piece of mind that I am eating healthy, whole foods all week.