This post is sponsored by Glad
Now, I work from home, so I don’t necessarily need to have all of my meals ready to go by Sunday evening. And I’m only feeding two. But I do stumble on things we all do — like making consistently healthy, balanced dinners; buying chicken and then never wanting to cook that chicken; buying more fruits and vegetables than I could ever use in a week; telling myself I’ll stick to a budget and then…what was that I said about budget? Right.
This is where meal prep comes in — planning and chopping and storing — and helps me spend less, waste less, and eat healthier, too. Here’s how to go about it:
Assess Your Fridge
Step one is always asking yourself: What do I have on hand? What do I need to use up? Don’t empty the pantry (the things that never go bad); empty the fridge. These are the fruits, veggies, meats, yogurts, sauces, and cheeses that have to get eaten this week.
Make a Meal Plan
Making a dinner menu, or even just a rough sketch, provides the structure for the whole week. I don’t plan breakfasts and lunches because they often involve leftovers and are pretty routine. Instead, I buy the sorts of things I know Daniel and I constantly eat — eggs, Greek yogurt, tuna, avocado, lettuce for salads, etc.
Make Your Shopping List
Knowing what I have to use up in my fridge, and my meal plan, now I can make a list.
This particular week, I bought spaghetti squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, celery, pomegranate, chicken, eggs…but other weeks, I might swap out the broccoli for brussels sprouts, the sweet potatoes for white, spaghetti squash for acorn…the only guidelines I have for shopping are variety (for nutrients) and sales (for savings).
I bought fruits like grapefruit, oranges, and apples. I picked up ricotta and goat cheese (I always buy some type of cheese), fresh basil, Greek yogurt, dates, these amazing salted freeze-dried edamame packs, and, I hate myself for admitting this, but now I’m hooked on buying those big jugs of Starbucks Unsweetened Brewed Iced Coffee. Why don’t I make cold brew again? Great question. I even bought one of the big Starbucks cups with the lid and straw to drink it (mainline-it) every morning. I’m hopeless.
Wash, Chop, Cook, Pack
I wash and chop all of the vegetables (celery into sticks for snacking; cauliflower into florets and left raw for later in the week to make cauliflower crust pizza). Then I cook the ones I’ve decided to prepare in advance: spaghetti squash, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.
Since I’m cooking 3 at once, I use 400 degrees F as the oven temp for all (rather than what’s below), and combine the spaghetti squash and sweet potatoes on one baking sheet and the broccoli on another. I start roasting the squash/sweet potato pan and then add the broccoli pan in the final 20 minutes.
Roasted Spaghetti Squash
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Place the squash cut-side-down on the baking sheet and roast until you can easily insert a fork into the skin, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer it to a cutting board, and let cool, cut-side-up, until cool enough to handle. Use a fork to scrape the inner flesh into strands.
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil. Lightly prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and place them on the baking sheet. Bake until you can easily slip a fork through the center of one, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easier clean-up). Combine the broccoli, optional garlic, and olive oil and toss well with your hands to coat the florets as evenly as you can. Sprinkle evenly with salt. Roast until the florets have begun to blacken, about 20 minutes.
While those are roasting, I hard-boil the eggs. Place 6 eggs in a small sauce pan, just cover with cold water, bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan, turn off the heat, and let sit for 12 minutes. Submerge in cold water and peel.
I cook the chicken on my indoor grill pan. Daniel and I will incorporate it into dinners, and if there’s any leftover, we’ll have it for lunch, too.
When I’m done with the prep, I pack up the food in the containers that seem best (or whatever still has a lid) — either glass jars, containers, bowls with Glad ClingWrap, or Glad storage bags. On the Glad website, they have a whole page dedicated to tips on storing every food you can think of — Protection Pointers. I find that so useful.
By as early as Monday, I’m so happy, so relieved, that I took two hours to prepare all this food. And by Saturday, the vegetable bins have no wilted greens.
Do you meal prep? Has it helped you reduce the amount you throw away?
This World Food Day, Glad isn’t just helping people like me protect and store their food to reduce waste; they’re supporting Free The Children, an international charity and education partner helping communities to rise above poverty, while creating awareness for hunger across the globe.
Join Glad on World Food Day to help spread awareness about world hunger by posting your food photos in black & white on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. For each black & white food photo posted with the hashtag #GladToShare between now and October 31st, Glad will donate $1 to Free The Children to provide a nutritious meal for a person in need in communities around the globe.
You’ll be seeing some black and white food photos on my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram in support of #WFD2015 and #GladtoShare.
Visit Glad.com to learn more about how you can help take a stand against global hunger in honor of World Food Day and help support Free The Children. Follow Glad on Twitter @getGlad, on Instagram @gladproducts, and Facebook.com/Glad
This post was sponsored by Glad in conjunction with #GladtoShare and World Food Day.