How I Prep Healthy Meals (and Reduce Food Waste)

 

How to Prep Healthy Meals on Sunday for the Week Ahead! Tips and Tricks

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

fotolia stocked 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

 

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.

grocery shopping

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.

 

Roasted Broccoli 

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.

healthy meal prep

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 bagsOn 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.

world food day

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.

 

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14 thoughts on “How I Prep Healthy Meals (and Reduce Food Waste)

  1. Kerstin

    Thank you so much for this post! I used to hate planning and food prep, I’m not sure why but it used to bring up so much resistance. When I started my weight-loss program 4 mths ago I knew that there were two habits I needed to establish: cooking and meal planning/prep. I started the latter with a simple handwritten weekly chart and a list of all the things that were in the fridge and pantry that needed to be eaten. Then I planned meals around those items and added others for which I created my shopping list. These days I have a slightly more sophisticated spreadsheet for all of this and it still goes on the fridge. There was still a fair amount of resistance in the beginning but I’m so happy to say that these days it’s become a habit. And it’s working, I’ve lost 30 lbs so far and we waste a lot less food :) I might be ready now to step things up a notch again and do more of the kind of food prep you suggest in this post. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  2. Erin V

    This came at just the right time! I’ve been in such a rut when it comes to meal planning. I need to remember that delicious can be simple AND healthy.

    Reply
  3. [email protected]

    I have SUCH a hard time with meal prep… I have all these grand ideas, then come Sunday I just want to spend time with my family (we see so little of each other during the week) and then I’m exhausted and all my grand ideas go out the window. I definitely need to work on discipline!

    Reply
  4. Robyn

    Great post! I abhor food waste but struggle with lack of motivation at the end of the day, even when I have a meal in mind, then it becomes too easy to be tempted by something ready-made. I must make some time to get pre-prepared. I tend to do most of my organisation at the back end of the week, like this morning where I’ve taken out everything that needs to be used up before our next shop in the weekend. Now trying to think of creative ways to use an unopened bag of kale and most of a tin of condensed milk today! Thanks for the inspiration :)

    Reply
  5. Hootie

    Love this post!! Yep Starbucks cold coffee got me too smh :) I need to get into meal planning/prepping, I think it would help me a lot.

    Reply
  6. Hayley

    My husband and meal plan every week. We go to the grocery on Saturday or Sunday, and before we go, my husband creates a grid of the days of the week and we decide what is for lunch and dinner. Then he uses that to create the grocery list. It also allows us to see what extra ingredients you are going to have…”oh, this recipe on Tuesday calls for one stalk of celery, so we can have such and such for dinner on Friday and use the rest.” It sound crazy, but it’s really a huge part of how our lives work on a daily basis. I couldn’t imagine coming home and wondering “so, what are we having for dinner?” and rummaging through the cabinets and fridge. Nor could imagine having to do spur of the moment grocery trips just to put it together every other day. You’ve laid it all out in a much better way than I ever could. Pre-cooking some items is a great idea. We will have to try that.

    I would also love to see the spaghetti squash recipe you mentioned for one of your dinners. That sounds amazing!

    Reply
  7. Alice Stewart

    What I’ve learned so far in order to reduce their food waste – to plan ahead, buy only what you need, cook wisely, use all the leftovers or freeze them for later use! To sum up – your food looks delicious! ;)

    Reply
  8. momtaxijulie

    I have a board on Pinterest where I put dinner items for the week on. Then I make my shopping list from them. It works great and since I have all the food for my meals on hand I don’t eat out. I pack up the left overs in portion sized containers and use those for lunches :)

    Reply
  9. Victoria

    I started prepping my breakfast to ensure I eat protein, probiotics…a healthy tasty breakfast every day. On Sunday, I lay out 5 plastic pint containers and fill with 3/4 cup organic, grass fed cows yogurt, chopped seasonal fruit and about 15 nuts per container. this way I grab and go, eat bfast in the car, but it’s still healthy and complete. Bonus–No bread!

    Reply
  10. Natasha Crawford

    Reducing the food waste we create is very important. I feel bad what I know how many people are starving and we are throwing food to the garbage! There are many ways to reduce food waste by freezing food, giving away or get creative in the kitchen! :) Thank you for the post!

    Reply
  11. Alyssa

    I started meal planning when I went back to school full-time this fall, and it’s been going great. There are still come kinks to work out, but overall, it’s working well for my other half and I. I came across a post several months ago (and I wish I could remember the blog) that was full of tips for reducing food waste. My favorite one, which I implemented right away, is to put a white board on the fridge to keep track of what food you have on hand. After I go shopping, I write down what meats and produce I bought. I keep track of what’s in the fridge and in the freezer, as well as any dairy and other perishables we have. Then each time I cook something, I erase it from the board. This helps me so much with the meal planning because I can see it all right in front of me without having to dig through the fridge. We have significantly cut down on food waste because I don’t forget what I bought when it gets lost in the back somewhere. I love it! Great post.

    Reply
  12. Callie

    Hi Andie,

    Just started reading your book and I am loving it so far!!

    Quick question- what indoor grill did you use for your chicken? We always bake or sauté and don’t have an option for an outdoor grill. Your chicken looks so yummy with those grill marks!!

    Thanks!

    Reply

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