So you want to start eating healthier and crush some fitness goals this year. Or maybe your takeout budget is beginning to take over your wallet. Either way, meal prepping doesn’t have to mean hours in the kitchen and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few tricks that are both budget- and time-friendly.
Keep a few of these on hand at all times. Canned and frozen vegetables are fine to eat. If you need to watch your sodium you can always rinse the veggies first a few times before proceeding. My favorite go-to is canned green beans and frozen broccoli and cauliflower. You can add these as a veggie side dish to most meals and they require little to no cook time. You can either cook the frozen veggies on the stove, microwave, or air fryer. This brings me to my next meal prep tip…
Air fryers not only speed up cooking time because you do not have to wait for an oven to heat up and they are much easier to clean than trays or pans. I love tossing olive oil, salt, and pepper on broccoli or cauliflower and popping it in for about 10-12 minutes. Air fryers also make cooking chicken and fish so much easier. Just add spices and pop in to cook for a few minutes.
This is a super easy go-to for making chicken or tuna salad. Swap out the mayo for Greek yogurt and add whatever other spices, nuts, or fruits and veggies you want (my go-to is adding ground mustard, dill, salt/pepper, pecans, and dried cranberries to canned chicken but you can also add buffalo sauce or powdered ranch dressing to tuna). You can also add this on top of pasta or a baked potato.
Add these to some cheese, jerky, or nuts and you have a great quick, healthy snack. (You can also just cut them up yourself and put them in clear containers).
It’s great to experiment with fun new recipes but as you’ve noticed above, a lot of these options are shelf-stable, frozen, easy-to-prepare options you can throw together in a few minutes and there’s a reason for that–you need to set yourself up for success.
You probably aren’t going to be able to come home every night and have an hour or so to prepare the perfect healthy meal. While meal prepping in bulk a few times a week is a great option, sometimes our prep days fall on events with friends. Have at least 2-3 meals on hand you can throw together in about 20-30 minutes. That can be canned chicken and protein pasta with a side of green beans or scrambled egg whites with some cheese and pre-chopped veggies with a bowl of oatmeal.
Finding what works best for you and your lifestyle is going to be the best way to set yourself up for long-term success. That may mean meal prepping on Sunday for half the week, having some quick, easy meals to throw together midweek, and adding in some healthy takeout on the weekend. It could be a combo of using a meal prep place and buying your meat cooked in bulk and using canned and frozen veggies on the side with rice. Or it could mean you buy a rotisserie chicken a few times a week along with pre-cut fruits and vegetables, oatmeal packets, and pre-cooked hard-boiled eggs. It could also mean getting a few quick staples and using a meal kit service that sends you the ingredients to fix healthy meals at home. Find what options work best for you and remember it doesn’t have to be time-consuming or complicated.