Hey Angels and Alphas,
This year, you decided to commit (or recommit) to eating healthier, fresh, whole foods. But there’s just one snag: it can take so much time to wash, cut, cook, prep, and overall take care of your diet.
That’s where convenience foods come in and save the day. Think about the pre-cooked brown rice and lentils, or the washed and halved (or even shredded) Brussels sprouts. These are products created for convenience, and they can help you reduce your prep time while allowing you to eat healthy, quick meals more often.
Here are 5 tips and tricks you can keep up your sleeve next time you’re doing some healthy meal prep shopping:
#1 DON’T BE AFRAID TO GET CHILLY
Keep your freezer stocked with broccoli florets, cauliflower rice, frozen veggies, you name it. These products are all great options to have on hand and they guarantee you’ll always have a veggie available for mealtime.
What’s more, they need pretty much no washing or chopping, and they’re extra good because they reduce food waste (because let’s face it, a lot of people have trouble eating fresh produce before it goes bad.) Steam, roast, or saute frozen veggies, or throw frozen cauli into a smoothie and blend for that extra dose of fiber.
The same goes for frozen fruit! Frozen cherries and grapes will make amazing snacks. At the same time, berries can be heated in a microwave to make a sugar-free syrup for your waffles or whole-grain pancakes.
#2 PICK OUT YOUR PRE-CUTS
While the cost might be a little bit higher, pre-cut and washed veggies are some of the most convenient products that can save you a ton of time in meal prep.
Try to find pre-chopped broccoli and cauliflower or even pre-snapped green beans. Shredded Brussels sprouts. Cubed butternut squash. The possibilities are endless! Or you can consider purchasing veggies that don’t require any chopping (just a quick rinse.) These can include peapods or baby bell peppers.
#3 TRY OUT PRE-COOKED PROTEIN
Not everyone has the time to cook chicken or fish as soon as they come home. Or whenever they need a meal. If this sounds like you, you should know it’s absolutely OK to rely on pre-cooked proteins. You just have to make sure you’re choosing them wisely.
Some options might be very high in sodium and fat. But if you can find pre-cooked proteins with minimal added ingredients, such as no-salt-added canned tuna, beans, chicken, or pre-cooked frozen shrimp, you’ll save yourself a ton of time in meal prep.
A rotisserie chicken also saves on prep, and not to mention, it’s usually a lot juicier than purchasing pre-cooked chicken breasts. When shopping, try to find options that contain less than 20 percent of your daily recommended value for sodium per serving.
#4 SMOOTHEN THE PROCESS WITH SAUCE
Here’s one thing you won’t see a busy person doing on a weeknight: simmering their own sauces. With all the amazing bottled simmer sauces, seasoning packets, and marinades out there, you never have to make your own sauces if you don’t want to. They have the ability to lift a bland, basic meal into an interesting, craveable one.
Here’s one warning: read the nutrition label and every ingredient on that ingredient list. Try to find a product that packs less than 10 percent of your daily recommended value for saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium. Read through the labels and try to find products that are made from whole foods while keeping the added sugars and salt to a minimum.
#5 PACKAGED WHOLE GRAINS MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER
You don’t want to spend an hour of your time boiling brown rice for tonight’s stir-fry? Not a problem. You can just vent a pouch of parboiled rice and just zap it in the microwave for about 90 seconds. After that, you’ve got a meal ready to get dressed up.
Just make sure you’re buying products that only contain rice or grain. If they’re seasoned, pay attention to the sodium. Sodium levels can skyrocket if you’re using multiple products with added sodium all in one meal. Still, you’ll be one step closer to a delicious, easy-to-make, good-for-you meal that will help you move closer to your goals.