With our busy lives, it can be a challenge to prepare healthy family meals during the week. You get home late from work, the kids are hungry and the last thing you want to think about is what to make for dinner. It’s tempting to go through the drive-thru for fast food or pop a frozen dinner in the microwave. However, most packaged foods, fast food items, and restaurant meals are high in calories and loaded with unhealthy, artificial ingredients.
It can be easy to prepare healthy meals for you and your family with just a little planning. Learn to set aside a day for food prep each week to have healthy food on hand that can be prepared quickly. Many times the weekends are the perfect time to plan your menus and to prep your food for the week.
Preparing food ahead of time doesn’t take a lot of time and will make meals during the week quick and easy. Peel and cut up a variety of fresh fruits and veggies to store in containers for use during the week. Cook sweet potatoes, brown rice, or whole wheat pasta for quick and easy side dishes. Bake chicken breasts that can be cut up for lunch salads, sandwiches, or used as a main dish for evening meals. Make turkey meatloaf and ground chicken patties ahead of time for sandwiches or quick easy meals.
You can purchase glass storage containers for storing the food you prep in the refrigerator. This can make it easy to see what’s in containers when selecting meals. Also, consider using the crock pot for preparing stews, casseroles, and soups that can be used later in the week.
Here are seven quick food prep ideas for the week that are fast and easy:
- Cook ground turkey, ground chicken or ground beef that can be prepared in patties, meatloaf, meatballs, or just precooked ground meat to add to casseroles, soup, pasta sauce, tacos, wraps, or omelets
- Boil a dozen eggs for tuna, egg, or chicken salad sandwiches. Boiled eggs can also be great for snacks or salads. Make mini omelets: Whisk several eggs in a bowl and add spinach, chopped tomatoes, onions, mushrooms or any veggies you like. Pour the mixture in muffin tins and cook in the oven on 350 for 20 to 30 minutes. These mini omelets are great reheated for breakfast or snacks.
- Grill chicken breasts or cook whole chickens to be used as main dishes, sandwiches or added to salads
- White potatoes and sweet potatoes can be cut up to be used in soups, casseroles, crock pot meals, or as baked fries and hash browns
- Tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, peppers, avocado, and celery can be chopped for salads, omelets, soups, casseroles, tacos, or on burgers or sandwiches
- Melons, pineapple, apples, strawberries, oranges, peaches, bananas, mango can be peeled and chopped for use in oatmeal, smoothies, topped on yogurt, or as a side dish.
- Plan your menu first, then write your grocery list. This will help you determine exactly what food prep needs to be done for your meals during the week. You will be surprised at how efficient you will become at meal planning and food prep. This will make meal time during the week less stressful and more enjoyable.
Here are some menu ideas for quick healthy meals:
Breakfast menu ideas:
Oatmeal topped with fresh fruit
Mini omelet, piece of fruit and whole wheat toast
Organic peanut butter on whole wheat toast topped with sliced bananas and strawberries
Organic plain yogurt with chopped walnuts and fresh blueberries
Lunch menu ideas
Spinach salad with cut up veggies and sliced chicken breast
Grilled chicken breast with sliced tomatoes and fresh fruit
Turkey burger on ½ wheat muffin with avocado and tomato served with baked sweet potato fries
Tuna salad made with (organic plain yogurt and avocado, chopped celery, onion and pickles) paired with sliced apples topped with almond butter and cinnamon.
Dinner menu ideas
Grilled salmon, brown rice, green beans
Turkey meatloaf, mashed sweet potatoes, spinach salad
Whole wheat pasta with organic pasta sauce and turkey meatballs, spinach salad
Crock pot stew (chopped chicken, potatoes, green peas, carrots and organic chicken broth) served with baked apples topped with walnuts and cinnamon
Once you find a routine for prepping your meals, you will find it is much easier to prepare healthy meals and stay on track with your food choices. Give food prep a try and see how it can improve your food choices, save time when preparing meals, and take the stress out of daily meal planning.