Preparation is the key to success in most avenues of life, specifically healthy eating. Taking the extra time at home to prep and cook most of your daily meals can help you maintain a healthy body weight and overall lifestyle.
Where should you start?
The key to success in the meal prep game is to have a plan and keep it simple. Most people are able to grab something from home for breakfast and come home at night to prepare dinner, but lunch is an area that many struggle with. Here are some tips for easy and healthy on-the go lunches.
Pre-Cooking Whole Grains
Buying whole grains, such as quinoa, barley, or brown rice, and cooking up a batch of them ahead of time can really help with meal prep. Most grocery stores sell brands that only take 10 to 15 minutes to cook. You can easily add sautéed veggies, beans, and your favorite protein to the mix for a quick and easy on-the-go meal.
Most grocery stores sell pre-cut veggies, or you can cut them yourself and keep them in Ziploc bags or plastic containers. Vegetables, such as bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, celery, and many leafy greens, can be chopped up and kept on hand to add to a stir-fry or into a grains dish for nutrients and extra flavor.
Meats and Proteins
Having your favorite protein cooked and ready to go is ideal for animal protein eaters. They can be seasoned with your favorite spices and left in Tupperware, so each day, they’re ready to be added alongside your pre-cooked grains and vegetables. Lean chicken or turkey are best, as fish can get odorous sitting in Tupperware for extended periods of time. For vegetarians, having your beans or meat substitutes prepared and seasoned as you would like them can help decrease your prep time as well.
Spices and Seasonings
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring! Having the right kinds of spices can really make a difference. Pick seasonings that are chemical and filler-free and have very low sodium levels. There are so many to choose from – garlic powder, curry, cumin, lemon pepper, turmeric, chili pepper, oregano, basil, etc. Use a variety so you don’t get bored with your dishes.
Need a healthy and fun meal prep idea to get you started? Here’s how to make the perfect Mason jar salad!
- Start with salad dressing. Since you keep the jar upright, the salad dressing will stay separated from your veggies. This is great if you don't want to pack a separate container for dressing.
- Add your vegetables. Start with harder veggies, like carrots, radishes, onions, and chickpeas, which will taste delicious after soaking in the dressing. Then, go for anything else you’d like such as bell peppers, chopped cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes.
- Layer the leafy greens. This should take up at least half the jar. As mentioned earlier, go for pre-cut and pre-washed greens to save time. And if you're using your own, make sure they're dry.
- At last, the protein. Sprinkle sautéed tofu, beans, grilled chicken or shredded cheese on top. These will help push the lightweight greens down so you can add more to your jar. You can also add avocado, nuts or seeds, and dried fruits.
- Shake or pour when you're ready. At lunchtime, you can shake up the container to distribute the dressing, or pour the entire contents into a bowl and mix it up with your fork.
Mason jar salads are easy-to-make and super customizable to suit your taste. They’re also a healthy grab-and-go option to keep you satisfied and energized.
By prepping salads, grain bowls, and other nutritious meals ahead of time, you can stay on top of your meal plan and maintain a healthy lifestyle!