Food Prep #LikeABoss: 6 tips that will save you!
You may hear the term “food prep” and cringe a bit. Trust me, when I first started prepping for the week about a year ago (when Erin and I completed our first round of the Whole 30 reset) I was completely overwhelmed. Food prepping for the week was a must while on the Whole30—if you didn’t, you ultimately were setting yourself up for failure. I'm not going to lie, the first Sunday that I food prepped I was in the kitchen for about 4 hours, as was Erin. So draining!
After that first “meal prep day," I knew there had to be easier ways and tricks to prep without spending half my Sunday in the kitchen either roasting, peeling, chopping, and baking, then cleaning up the mess I made. Along the way, during that first round, Erin and I both adopted some shortcuts and time-saving methods that literally cut our time in the kitchen in half. The tips I want to share with you this week allowed us to actually enjoy the day with our families rather than spend it confined to the imaginary walls of our kitchen.
So why food prep?
Food prepping has become a necessity in my household. Between multiple nights a week at dance, karate, soccer, not getting home until 5pm nightly, and my husband being gone every 3rd day at the fire department (for 24 hours at a time), there has to be a method to the madness when it comes to preparing for our meals. Not just dinner, but breakfast, lunch, and snacks to grab and go.
So the obvious first reason why food prepping is beneficial—it saves you time! When we are prepped for the week it takes a lot of the guesswork out and allows us to be on auto-pilot in and keep our “ship” running smoothly.
Other reasons to food prep:
Saves you money
More control over a balanced, nutritious diet
Prevents mindless decisions on meals
Sets your mind at ease and save energy
Prevents worry and boredom
Allows you to use your time at home for family versus on deciding what to eat
These all seem pretty “common knowledge” reasons to meal prep, but the reality is that the action of prepping can be a bit cumbersome and overwhelming- especially if you are not sure where to start.
This is where our tips and tricks to food prepping #LikeABoss come in!
Make sure you have the correct storage containers
Prior to prepping, make sure you have the correct storage containers to keep your food fresh and ready to go for the week. It is important that the food you prepare stay in the safest, most efficient containers. First, you want a container system that keeps your veggies and fruits fresh and ready to eat. This system from Progressive International has various sizes for berries and vegetables you want to preserve. Another container set we recommend, which can keep your items organized and ready to go, is this one from Pyrex. I actually have this set myself and it works great at keeping my meal options/sides organized and ready for the day or night.
Prep your proteins first
When it comes to which food group to battle first, always start with your protein. Usually your protein will take the longest to cook and prep. Most of the time I will cook several chicken breasts and either shred or cube them for chicken salad, to use as a salad topper, or to use as a base for different types of sauces to it (ex: primal kitchen chipotle mayo).
Other “protein ideas” you can prep for the week include (but are not limited to):
Salmon (either salmon steaks or canned salmon)
Cooking and storing the Sunday before your week starts cuts down on the time making your protein for either lunch or dinner and eliminates the guess work. If I know I will have time to bake chicken in the oven on my prep day, I will just buy pre-roasted chicken (I try to find the cleanest chicken—like Greenwise from Publix) to shred/cube for the week.
Rinse, chop, store, repeat—or just buy them already prepared
One of the biggest life hacks when it comes to food prepping is having your fruits and veggies ready and set to go so you don't have to worry about rinsing and chopping/cutting them up. The day that I prep I make sure all of my fruits and veggies are already washed and rinsed. I store them in their containers ready to just take out when I need them.
I cut up all my strawberries so they are prepared for my girls—a great option for a quick afternoon snack before the hectic hustle of dropping off/picking up with after school activities.
I wash and cut up my sweet peppers for the week, either in rings or lengthwise, depending on what I will be using them for. It's nice having those ready not only for lunches, but for a bright addition to dinner that is filled with micronutrients and antioxidants.
Lastly, I will prepare guacamole for the week (check out our amazing guacamole recipe on our website!) along with chopping onion and tomato to add into lunch meals or dinner.
Various grocery stores also have common veggies already chopped and packaged for you. If you know you won’t have time to chop/dice your veggies when you prep (or if it's 7pm on Sunday and you are just getting around to shopping—insert my hand raising here!) these are great options to have. They might be a little bit more expensive than buying the whole vegetable and chopping them yourself, but in all reality you might have to pick and choose your battles when it comes to limiting stress.
Pre-cook your veggies
Not only is chopping and storing your veggies helpful, cooking them in advance saves you a ton of time! When I prep I will roast various vegetables, including my favorite-- roasted (brussel sprouts) with veggie blend seasoning. I will post this recipe in our facebook group this week---so be on the look out for it! This is a nice veggie option to have ready to either heat in the microwave or pop into the oven for a few minutes. It reduces the length of time needed to roast the veggies from a raw state. Other veggies that you can prep include asparagus, peppers, onions, and kale. Roasting these veggies in preparation for the week will take away an additional stress of waiting for them cook along with giving you great side options for lunch.
Prepare your breakfast options on Sunday
This is one tip that don’t always do, but should more often. If you are anything like me in the morning, breakfast tends to be the last thing on your mind. Between my morning workout, getting myself ready, walking our Chiweenie, getting the girls ready, and getting the lunches made, my breakfast tends to be pushed to the way side. Preparing my breakfast on Sunday takes away the stress of trying to figure out what to eat/prepare in 2 minutes.
I absolutely LOVE our Chicken Sausage and Sweet Potato Frittata recipe. You can prepare it on Sunday and eat it throughout the week, either cold or heated up. Some other breakfast hacks include hard boiled eggs (prepare either in boiling water on the stove or in the oven) or kale veggie blend egg bites. Some eggless options we love include overnight oats and overnight chia seed yogurt. You can prepare these in mason jars and leave them in the refrigerator to grab ’n’ go in the morning.
Clean as you go versus at the end
A big “debbie downer” about prepping is the clean up. Trust me—the first time I prepped for the Whole 30 I thought my husband was going to have a heart attack! But one thing that Melissa Hartwig does recommend (and it works!) is to clean AS YOU GO! Don’t leave the pans stacked in the sink or bowls off to the side. Once you have used your item (to chop, mix, or blend) clean it right away and let it dry. Clean up your work area while food is in the oven before moving onto another item. Staying on top of this will be a savior for you (and from what I’ve learned, your better half) from having a post-prep mini-breakdown from all of the clean up. And, as Melissa says in her Whole 30 Day-byDay journal, “Never go to bed with a dirty kitchen." This makes the process easier and you will be more likely to make prepping part of your weekly routine.
Prepping for the week can most definitely seem like an overwhelming task, but hopefully this blog post has eased your mind a bit and has given you some confidence that you can do it! In our house, food prepping has helped us out greatly with the craziness of what the work-week brings us. Now, do we prep every single Sunday—absolutely not. But what I can tell you is that when we don’t prep for the week, it is more hectic in our household especially in the mornings.
So try prepping one Sunday or whichever day is best for you and see how your week goes! Let us know what you think about it and if you are going to incorporate this into your weekly routine. And as always, if you have any questions or have any other life-hacks to food prepping we can add—shoot us an email or message!
Hope you guys have an amazing week!
Continue to Follow Your Gut,