Imagine coming home to a fridge full of tasty, wholesome meals waiting for you. Wouldn't it be nice to eat healthy, save money, and even have some leftovers to take to work the next day? Preparing food for the week ahead doesn't have to be a Herculean task. With a small amount of planning, you will be able to cook delicious meals at home without spending hours in the kitchen. These seven easy meal prep ideas will help you get started.
Make Homemade Nut Butter
Adding a couple tablespoons of nut butter to your breakfast will help you make your meal more balanced. Luckily, it doesn't take long to whip up a batch that will last you all week if you have a food processor or high-quality blender. When you make your own nut butter, you can control the quality of ingredients and experiment with different flavors. Mix a couple tablespoons of melted chocolate into your nut butter to make a chocolate spread, or blend in some pumpkin spice mix for a holiday version. For a quick, healthy, and delicious breakfast, spread your homemade nut butter on multigrain toast and top it with some fruit slices.
Freeze Smoothie Packs
If you are more of a breakfast-on-the-go type of person, smoothie packs are a perfect solution. To make a smoothie pack, chop up your favorite fruits and veggies, and place them into small freezer bags. To make your smoothies more nutritious, add a handful of greens, such as spinach or kale, into each bag. Put the packs in the freezer, and when you're ready for a smoothie, place the contents of one bag into your blender, add liquid, such as milk or orange juice, and blend. For a more filling smoothie, add high-quality protein powder and a tablespoon of your homemade nut butter.
Prepare a Batch of Soup
A hearty soup that's packed with veggies, whole grains, and protein can be a filling and healthy meal. Soups can be stored in the fridge, and they can also be frozen if you still have leftovers at the end of the week. The best part about soup is that it's pretty easy to prepare, and you can make the process even faster by using a blender or food processor to chop the veggies.
Freeze Cooked Whole Grains
Did you know that cooked whole grains can be frozen? Freeze leftovers, or cook a few different types of whole grains and freeze them in small plastic bags. Having a few types of whole grains in the freezer adds variety to your meals during the week. Frozen whole grains can be quickly defrosted in the microwave and then served as a side dish or added to salads and soups.
Poach Fish or Chicken
Poaching fish or chicken is as simple as cooking it in liquid. It only takes about 20 minutes of your time, and poached fish and chicken will last well in the fridge. A poached chicken breast or fish filet will provide much-needed protein to your meal, and you can add it to a sandwich or salad for a healthy work lunch.
Whip Up Some Hummus
Hummus is a healthy dip that tastes great in wraps and sandwiches. You can make your own by processing or blending cooked or canned chickpeas with other ingredients. Just keep in mind that if you use dried chickpeas, you will need to soak them overnight and then cook them for about 40 minutes or until they're tender.
We are often told to eat more greens, but realistically, how can we add more greens into our diet? Greens, such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and collard greens, are bulky and take up a lot of space in the fridge. The best solution is to quickly blanch greens right after you bring them home. Store the blanched greens in the fridge, and warm them up in olive oil with some garlic. You can also add them to soup and stir-fry, and they can be frozen for later use.
As you can see, it's easy to stock your fridge and pantry with nutritious, ready-to-assemble meals without following complicated recipes. Start with these seven easy meal prep ideas, and you'll soon be spending fewer hours in the kitchen, saving money on food, and eating healthier meals.