Kitchen Table · Whole Health

How to Meal Prep Like a Boss

We’re already several weeks into the New Year, and hopefully keeping strong with the resolutions we made to improve our health. A couple of weeks ago I posted about menu planning and how it can improve and maintain healthy eating habits. This week is all about meal prep, and the two go together like carrots and hummus.

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Meal prep is an absolute life saver. Whether you’re working three 12’s, four 10’s or five 8’s, the work week can get hectic for all of us. Especially if you’ve got a commute! Sometimes it feels like between work and sleep, there isn’t much time for anything else. Healthy eating takes time, and that time is often allocated to other necessities and responsibilities, such as errands, housekeeping, and laundry. Just like menu planning, meal prep makes it easier for us to make and keep healthy eating habits, even when we feel like we don’t have the time to.

Benefits of Meal Prepping 

Meal prep has many similar benefits to menu planning, like saving time, reducing stress, and making it easier to eat healthy.

Save time. Spending half an hour Sunday night to prep your lunches for the week saves time throughout the rest of the week. It takes only seconds longer to cut vegetables for the whole week than it does for just one day. Only one cutting board and knife are dirtied, instead of three or four or five. You save time in both preparation and clean-up afterwards.

Reduce Stress. One of the number one tips for making mornings smooth and stress free is to have everything you need for the day ready to go the night before. And when we eat fast food, it’s often just for the sake of convenience – we simply need something available to grab and go. With just a half hour prep time on Sundays, a stack of lunches can be ready to grab off the fridge shelf, even at the last moment. Morning don’t get much smoother or more stress free than that.

Eat healthy. If you’re not packing a lunch, you’re eating out, and when eating out, you’re usually limited to what’s close to work. Chances are, if you’re eating out, you’re not going to have as many healthy options as when you do the shopping and meal prep yourself. My personal favorite healthy lunch meal is salad.

Sistema Salad Containers, filled and ready to go.

Meal Prep Go-to’s & Must-haves

There’s a lot of great lunch ideas to meal prep for the week. My meal prep go-to is a salad. It’s a great healthy choice, and after lunch I feel full, content, but never sluggish. There’s several must-haves if you’re prepping salads, including a good salad container, a great salad dressing, and a healthy protein source.

Salad Container. I’ve tried several different salad containers, including the ever popular mason jar. But the Sistema salad containers take the gold.  They include a one-serving-size container for salad dressing and you can separate your greens from your toppings till you’re ready to eat. I feel this greatly enhances freshness, especially when you’re meal prepping for several days. The set also includes a fork and knife. When you’re ready to eat, add the salad dressing to your greens, replace the lid only (not the insert with your toppings), shake to thoroughly mix your dressing, add your toppings, and Guten Appetit!

Salad Dressing. Having a good salad dressing can make the salad. I’ve found Annie’s brand to generally be a healthy and tasty choice, while being comparable in price to other salad dressings and available at most grocery stores. Their dressings don’t have any synthetic colors or preservatives. My favorite flavors have been Balsamic Vinaigrette, Shitake & Sesame Vinaigrette, Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette, and the Tuscany Italian dressing. But my guilty pleasure is Brianna’s Home Style Asiago Caesar dressing.

Protein. A healthy protein option for salads is another must. I often add boiled eggs and nuts to my salads, because they are quick and easy. I used to use and love smoked salmon, but it’s nearly impossible to find nitrite-free smoked salmon, and when you do, it costs a small fortune. Other healthy options include quinoa, seeds (chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.), tuna or salmon, or chicken. Often times, I’ll add a little Mrs. Dash* and olive oil to my chicken, cut it in thin slices, and bake in the oven for about twenty minutes at 350.

*There are so many great Mrs. Dash flavors – Onion & Herb, Fiesta Lime, and Southwest Chipotle have been my favorites.

Winter Pear & Pomegranate Salad

Favorite Seasonal Salad Combos

Eating seasonally means fresher, more flavorful produce with (usually and hopefully) higher nutrient value. So here’s some of my favorite seasonal go-to salad combinations.

Spring. Snow peas, sliced mushrooms, cucumbers, green onions, mandarin orange slices, home-canned tuna, and Annie’s Shiitake & Sesame Vinaigrette or Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette.

Summer. Cherries, chopped walnuts, cucumbers, green onions, boiled eggs, and Annie’s Balsamic Vinaigrette or Brianna’s Home Style Asiago Caesar dressing.

Fall. Sliced apples, pumpkin seeds, chicken baked with Mrs. Dash Onion & Herb Seasoning

Winter. Red sliced pears, pomegranate seeds, green onions, feta cheese, chopped pecans, boiled eggs, and Annie’s Balsamic Vinaigrette.

My Meal Prep Goes Something Like This…

Collect ingredients for a quick meal prep.
I enjoy a chopped salad; it’s the perfect bite size and has a quick prep time.
Sistema Salad containers, ready to fill.
Use kitchen shears to cut green onions directly into your salad dish.
Toppings chopped.
Go. Meal Prep like a Boss. I’m ready to tackle the work week.

Further Reading

For more inspiration on creating healthy lifestyle habits, check out my posts My 2017 Resolutions and The Ultimate Menu Planning Guide.

18 thoughts on “How to Meal Prep Like a Boss

  1. I’ve been wanting to do a week of meal prep for a long time, but I just don’t like eating the same thing every day :(. How many do you usually do at a time? Does it ever get monotonous?

  2. Meal prepping has always been a goal of mine, but I can never seem to find the time to do it. I know I need to force myself… but, do you have any favorite meal prep websites with recipes and plans?

  3. I’ll admit, I’m pretty terrible about meal planning. I tried freezer meals for a while, but salads are a bit more feasible for those of us that don’t have a lot of time. 🙂

  4. My boyfriend and I have started meal prepping and the time it saves in the mornings is so great! No more stress with deciding what to eat and just knowing that what we are eating is healthy makes it all the more worth it.

  5. This is awesome! We’ve been wanting to meal prep for a while now, especially since our boy is now getting to an age where he can start eating with us. This is the perfect option for my husband’s lunches too. Thanks for sharing!

  6. We are big fans of meal prepping (though not as organized as yours lol!). We cook on the weekends and prepare most of what we need for the week. Huge time saver! Thanks for the tips, anything that would make it easier and more efficient is so helpful.

  7. I need to start meal prepping for myself and the kids for lunch. We wind up so busy during the day that lunch is already random thrown-togetherness or leftovers LOL.

  8. This is great! I haven’t tried sistema containers, but I hear good things about them! Meal planning is such a great thing – wonderful steps on how to do it easily and efficiently!

  9. For me, the key to eating healthy is prepping as much in advance as possible. The easier it is to grab a healthy snack, or create a nutritious dinner, the better. Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips!

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