More than just a food trend, healthy meal prep is a nutritious and time-saving way to make delicious, homemade food that you will want to eat every day. It will save you time and energy, plus the end results can look impressive too! Meal prep doesn’t require complicated planning or fancy tools. All you need is time and some go-to recipes in your back pocket, like this Lemon Herb Couscous from our friend Joy This beginner’s guide on how to meal prep will teach you the basics and set you on the right path to regaining time and sanity.

Meal prep is exactly what it sounds like. It involves creating a meal plan for the week, creating a detailed shopping list, and then preparing a variety of ingredients ahead of time so that everything is ready to go when you start cooking. It can also include making foods ahead of time, in large quantities, so that you can quickly package it up and take it along with you wherever you go.

Meal prep with peppers

While it seems like a daunting investment of time, meal prep can actually be a major time saver – especially on those days where you overslept and don’t have time to make a lunch from scratch! Not only does it save time, it also saves money and reduces food waste. Preparing meals early in the week gives you total control over what goes into your food too, so it’s extra healthy! You know all the ingredients and everything is prepared fresh, so there are no hidden preservatives. It’s also easier to control portions and focus on healthy recipes, therefore avoiding the temptation to order take-out when you don’t know what to do for lunch or dinner.

Once you have a healthy meal plan in place and some dedicated time every week, you are well on your way to setting yourself up for success. Before starting to plan your meals, there are a few different types of meal prep you should know about and depending on your situation, one or more might be appropriate to incorporate into your lifestyle.

Types of Meal Prep

Full Make-Ahead Meals

Once a month, set aside a day where you create full meals that can easily be frozen or, if meal prepping on a weekly basis, stored in the fridge. These pre-made homemade meals are a time saver! They can be taken out the night before and thawed so that they are ready to be heated and served when you get home from a long day at work.

Batch Cooking

This is similar to the make-ahead meal idea, but in this instance, you will portion those meals out and store them. This is excellent for things like soup or chili that can be easily frozen and then heated up for lunches. Batch cooking can also include making a large recipe, like Joy’s Lemon Herb Couscous, storing it in the fridge and then portioning it out every day for lunch.

Ingredient Prep

Once you have a meal plan set out for the week, it is extremely helpful to take the time to prep the ingredients you will need for each meal. If chicken is on the menu and it needs to be marinated, you would prep that and store it to be cooked later. Chop up all the veggies you require for the meals and store them separately so they can easily be added to your recipe. Mix any spices together that are required for each dish, label them and store them so they’re easy to grab when you need them. For busy families, ingredient prep is a definite game changer.

How To Meal Prep: The Beginner’s Guide

Meal prep

Healthy meal prep starts with choosing some of your favorite recipes that you already enjoy as leftovers and can cook with ease. From there, you can branch out with new recipes and food pairings. There’s no shame is keeping it simple to start with!

With simple recipes in hand, decide what you’ll cook for the week and then schedule the days of the week when you want to enjoy your meals. You can start by just planning out dinners before gradually adding in lunches and even breakfast too! If you want to jump right in with planning out all your meals, we recommend that you start by making a large batch of a nutrient packed recipe that will hold up well in the fridge for the entire week – like Lemon Herb Couscous.

This incredibly simple recipe features our Juno® Bites Red Grape Tomatoes and Mini Cucumbers. First you add all of the ingredients for the lemon vinaigrette into a jar and shake until it’s well emulsified. Then combine the couscous with your freshly chopped veggies, top with the vinaigrette, and then gently toss. It’s really that simple. You would store this in a large, airtight container in the fridge or you can opt to portion it out into single servings.

If you are looking for some fresh and flavorful inspiration, check out some of these recipes that are quick and easy to make:

Home Office

One super easy thing you can do to plan your week for success is to prep your healthy snacks! We make that easier for you with our fantastic snacking line up. Our grab-and-go packaging is super convenient when you’re heading out the door. Our Uno Bites™ Nano Cucumbers are the perfect, single-serving snack – either on its own or with your favorite dip! You have a whole rainbow of options when it comes to our snacking tomatoes. If you’re in need of something sweet, we have our Cloud 9® Bite-Sized Fruity Tomatoes that are a Tiny Taste of Heaven®. For those who are addicted to crunch, we have a snack for you too! Our Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers are colorful and have that satisfying crunch.

Healthy meal prep can be an easy way to make a busy life easier all the while helping to meet your health goals and nutrition requirements. The key is to keep it simple, stick to your plan and make sure you have everything you need on hand for the week.

For Joy’s full Lemon Herb Couscous recipe, click here.

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