Meal prep is the #1 healthy habit I advise people to focus on when starting a weight loss journey – It was a true game changer for me when I started mine. Prior to meal prep it was near impossible to get a healthy meal on the table and any attempt at eating healthy was usually intercepted by missing ingredients, no time, or screaming kids. Meal prep allows us to prepare meals when we have time so we can eat healthy when we don’t.
I’ve talked about meal prep many times over the years, I even put together these tutorials.
I also offered some more guidance on meal prep with these posts.
Steph from Confession’s of a Meal Planning Addict wrote this instant pot meal prep post.
Today I want to share 7 basic meal prep hacks I’ve learned along my weight loss journey. Some you might already know, but maybe you don’t. I know when I started I had no clue about some of these hacks, and a couple I just learned this year. Anyway, I wanted to share these meal prep hacks with you so you can start your weight loss journey on the right track.
You can freeze kale and other greens
Whoa what? Yep. I learned this little trick a few years ago when I discovered my beloved green smoothie. Just an FYI my favorite green smoothie is this detox one…yum! There are actually 3 ways you can freeze kale, spinach, and any green – no more throwing leftover greens out! My favorite way is to freeze kale or other greens in a green smoothie freezer kit or I just shove the leftovers in a bag and stick in the freezer. Mostly, I just use the greens for smoothies so I will use it straight from the freezer and blend. However, I’ve also successfully used frozen kale or spinach in soups and other recipes. So go ahead and purchase a huge bulk bag of kale or spinach and then freeze away!
You can freeze rice and quinoa
You might already know this but just in case you don’t let me be the one to enlighten you. Yes, you can prepared rice, quinoa, and most grains ahead of time and freeze for future meals and recipes. Woot woot! This is a HUGE time savor because regular rice takes at least 30 minutes to prepare and quinoa takes about 20 minutes. This might not seem like a lot of time but when kids are screaming for dinner it can turn 30 minutes into 5 hours in a torture chamber! I freeze rice, quinoa, and other grains into recipe-ready pouches, about 1-2 cups each. You can see my instructions for freezing rice, and other grains, here.
Portion out cooked shredded chicken or beef for meals
I’ve talked about this meal prep hack before, and put together an entire post on preparing and freezing shredded chicken ahead time, but just in case you have some chicken and not sure what to do with it now you do. Cook it, shred it, and then portion it out to use in recipes later on. Same with beef and pork. Then use it in any recipe that calls for shredded chicken, beef, or pork. Imagine having prepared rice and shredded chicken in the freezer? The recipe ideas are endless. Trust me. This makes dinner time so much easier during the week. Seriously, who wants to deal with raw chicken and cooking rice during the week? Nobody and that’s why we order pizzas. Having those foods ready will help you get a healthy meal on the table fast.
Use meal prep containers for portion-control meals
If you need better accountability with your meals then I reccomend investing in some meal prep containers. Back in the day, I used to keep all my meal prep in large containers – sometimes I still do that. However, when I need more structure I will portion out my meals on Sunday using these meal prep containers. This takes the thinking out of tracking. It’s also helpful for on-the-go lunches and dinners. You can even make homemade freezer diet meals using meal prep containers.
I like these glass pyrex dishes.
I use mason jars for many things around here. Obviously, I love mason jar salads – this Greek salad is my favorite. And my friend Steph shared all the different ways she uses mason jars in her meal prep routine. However, I never thought to use mason jars to stay accountable with drinking water. One OYS reader shared this tip with me earlier in the year. It’s so simple but extremely helpful so I wanted to share it. All you need to do is fill up two (32-ounce) mason jars every morning with filtered water. Then just drink from the jars all day. You’ll be able to keep track of the amount of water you drink by what’s left. Try it, I’m telling you this is a very useful hack. You can find 32-ounce mason jars at any grocery store or just order them off Amazon.
You can prep slow cooker ingredients the night before.
I’m sure this is common knowledge but it’s been so helpful to me in the last couple months I wanted to share it again. Slow cookers come in very handy on meal prep day. You can cooked shredded chicken, taco meat, oatmeal, and other large batches of food to eat throughout the week. However, if you want to make a slow cooker meal during the week you can prep all the ingredients the night before, refrigerate the insert overnight, and then place in the crock the next morning. Turn it on and go about your day. Depending on the recipe, I’ve even prepped slow cooker ingredients on the weekend. My point is if you don’t have time to prep meals on the weekend then take time the night before and then let your slow cooker do the work for you the next day. Just a little meal prep hack you might find helpful.
You can prep ingredients without cooking anything.
Did you know that you don’t need to cook anything on meal prep day if you don”t want to. Yep. You can simply just get ingredients ready. For example, trim and slice chicken, wash fruits and vegetables, cut vegetables for recipes, portion-out snacks among other things. Basically, prepare ahead of time the food that would make YOUR life easier during the week. Start with the meals that would make the biggest impact if prepped ahead of time and then go from there. Don’t feel like you need to prepare an entire meal plan – do what you can and what would be the most helpful.
These are just a few of the simple meal prep hacks I’ve learned over the years. Remember, meal prep is meant to make your life easier so if a tip doesn’t work for your lifestyle then give another one a try.
I would love to learn more about any meal prep tips you’ve discovered on your weight loss journey. Share them below!
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