You do not have to be a chicken and rice lover, salad obsessor, Lululemon-wearing millennial in order to be a person who meal preps. In fact, let’s take this moment to redefine the concept of meal prepping from a place of restriction, to a place of mindful preparation.
What meal prepping all boils down to is making sure you have breakfast and/or lunch to take to work all week long so you are not living off of on coffee and water and those break room leftovers from your office party last week until you finally cave and order takeout at 3 PM.
This make ahead quiche is absolutely perfect for a grab, heat, and go type of breakfast on a busy work morning, or fuel for your early weekend adventure.
How to meal prep:
The first thing? Just start. Just do it. It doesn’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to get fancy.
Just pick one meal, breakfast is a great place to start! Pick the meal that gives you the most grief. Focus on that meal. Even prepping just one meal ahead will give you the benefits of meal prepping. I promise!
For me, that was breakfasts. I prepped my breakfasts for the week at first, then I started adding in lunches, and finally snacks.
Here are four tips for meal prep beginners:
- Keep it simple- like we discussed above, just picking one meal that pains you and focussing on that will prevent you from getting overwhelmed, and you will still feel the benefits of meal prepping!
- Schedule it- write it on your calendar. Block off time. Make it as difficult as possible to make excuses.
- Use dependable recipes- it might not be the right time to try a crazy new recipe. Using recipes you know are easy and tasty is a great base to start off of.
- Have fun and reward yourself- I like to crank up the music and have fun when I’m prepping. And it doesn’t hurt to bribe yourself with a coffee or a bit of chocolate, right?
Meal prep containers:
Go green! Ditch out on the plastic containers, and choose a reusable glass container!
How to meal prep for the week:
I’m going to walk you through my process. Is this the right process for you? Maybe. Maybe not. But it always helps to see how others do things.
STEP ONE: Make a menu plan
Even if you don’t prep your meals ahead, having a plan is an easy way to save time and reduce stress.
- I start by writing out our dinners, since I eat something different each night.
- Next, I add in breakfast and lunches. I often eat the same thing 3-4 days in a row for breakfast and lunch, so they are easier to fill in.
- And last but not least, I pick some healthy snacks.
Here’s how I decide what to put on my meal plan:
- Take stock- The first thing I do is check my fridge and take stock of what is left over. I plan a few meals early on in the week around those items. You can also check out the freezer in case you have any frozen protein or meals that need to be used up.
- Check what’s on sale– I mostly check out proteins and stock up on chicken thighs or chicken breasts, pork tenderloin or salmon. But costly produce like berries are also great to price out. I will use these as the starting point for deciding on meals.
- Write out theme days- Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Stir Fry Wednesday, Pasta Thursday, Pizza Friday, Slow Cooker Saturday, Leftovers Sunday. You get the idea. This is a great way to get the ball rolling if you can’t think of anything.
- Check my inspiration boards- aka Pinterest. I have a LOT of Pinterest boards filled with meal prep ideas, and they are my go-to’s when it comes to planning out my meals for the week.
- Remember which items will go off! I plan for non-frozen seafood early in the week. Berries are best consumed within 3-4 days of purchase. And our small family always has leftovers so I build that into our plan either as lunches, or as a leftovers for dinner day.
STEP TWO: make a shopping list and get your groceries
First, I go through my meal plan and write in ingredients that we need beside the menu item. Then I write up a shopping list. I use Evernote for this, which is an app that syncs between my phone and computer. I love that I can make check lists because I get great pleasure in checking things off my list.
STEP THREE: start meal prepping!
You have your meal plan, you have your groceries, you’ve got this! Remember to pick one meal and focus on that to start.
There are SO many different ways you can meal prep. Let’s discuss meal prep strategies.
Meal prep strategies
Guess what? You DO NOT need to prep full meals. Small steps like cooking a batch of rice, chopping some veggies, or tossing some chicken in the slow cooker are going to help you out BIG TIME during the work week, I promise.
Let’s run through some meal prep strategies. You can pick one (or more than one) that works for you and run with that. These are just ideas, and you don’t have to use all of these strategies!
- Buffet style meal prep- a lot of people enjoy prepping their veggies, protein and carbs ahead, then using them for easy meals. This is great for tacos, salads and that sort of thing. You can also prep a big portion of protein and use that as a base for several meals through the week.
- Some ideas:
- chop or spiralize your veggies
- roast up vegetables or potatoes in some seasoning (here are 7 spice blends you can use!)
- shake together dressings, sauces, etc
- cook up grains, pasta, quinoa
- Batch cooking- cook up a big batch of something and enjoy it through the week.
- Some ideas:
- soups, stews
- cook a whole chicken
- cook a big batch of chicken in the slow cooker
- cook up some perfect black beans or legumes in the Instant Pot
- Portion things out- whether it is an entire meal or just a component, portioning out is one of the most important steps of meal prep because it means you can just grab your meal and go.
- Some ideas:
- trail mix
- hummus or dip portions, with veggies for dipping
- overnight oats
- Assemble ingredients but don’t cook- this is typically done with freezer meals, but you can often store in the fridge as well. By assembling your meals ahead, when it comes time to cook, you simply need to dump them in the slow cooker or Instant Pot, and press the button!
- Some ideas:
- freezer slow cooker meals
- freezer Instant Pot meals
- chicken breasts in marinade
- Pre-cooked meals- this is my approach for breakfasts and lunches, and is perfect for meals that you don’t have time to prep on the days you will eat. All you need to do is grab them from the fridge, re-heat if necessary, and enjoy!
- Some ideas:
- breakfast: (see recipe below)
- lunch: stir fries, sheet pan meals, jar salads
- dinner: any dinner that can be re-heated. Soups, stews, stir fries, and curries are all good bets.
You really do!
The benefits of meal prep are so worth the effort. You will save yourself time and money. You will feel less stress. You will eat healthier. Just remember this if you start to feel the resistance (the one that tells you you’d rather watch Netflix).
- 1 cup of chopped potatoes
- ½ cup of goat cheese
- 1 cup of chopped leeks
- ½ cup of chopped onion
- 5 eggs
- ½ cup coconut milk
- Gluten Free Crust
- Line the inside of the pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or beans (I use pinto beans) make sure that they are up against the sides of the pie crust. Bake the crust for about 20 minutes. Remove the weights and then bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. The crust will be golden.
- Prepare the egg mixture by adding the eggs to a large measuring cup. Add the heavy cream, then add the milk, the total measurement of the eggs, cream and milk should come to 2 and 1/2 cups. Add the salt and pepper.
- Mix with a hand mixer to ensure the egg and cream mixture is completely mixed.
- Spread the desired fillings on the bottom of the pie crust. Pour the egg mixture on top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes. The quiche will be slightly wobbly in just the center.
- Allow to cool for about 20 minutes to room temperature. Quiche can be served warm, cold, or room temperature.