5 Easy Ways To Meal Prep Right Now!
Becki Siconolfi, BA, Metabolic Nutritionist, Body Sculpting Specialist
One of the biggest obstacles people face in losing weight, getting leaner, or even building muscle is
eating the right things, at the right times. Aka “food prep.” Or, having the “right” foods and meals prepared
ahead of time for easy eating. The “right things” are almost always whole foods, which are best for body
composition… but can take a lot of time to prepare ahead of time. People usually end up quitting before
they even start because they perceive it to be too difficult. But, it doesn't have to be. Check out my top 5
favorite meal prep hacks.
1. Frozen vegetables
Aside from fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables are the very next best thing. Canned vegetables are
essentially “dead,” and devoid of nutrition (if you’ve ever seen an army green can of limp green beans,
you know what I mean). Frozen vegetables are the busy person’s best friend. They are washed, peeled,
and even chopped for you. All you need to do is defrost them, and sometimes cook them. This can be
done easily, and quickly in any microwave, or quick boil on the stove. I have also thrown frozen veggies
(like asparagus and broccoli) onto a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil and lightly oil, and roasted at
450 degrees until crisp. Since it is grilling season, you can also thrown frozen veggies on the grill.
If you are looking for a super fast meal prep option try this hack:
-leftovers from restaurant or meal the night before!
-add 1 bag frozen veggies
Done. The seasoning or sauce from the meal the night before will flavor your leftover meal, and make it
go farther for your lunch, or dinner.
2. Crockpot meals
The often underrated crockpot is the busy person’s best friend. You can fill it with meat, veggies, spices,
broths or non cream based sauces, set the timer for 8 hours, and come home from work to a lovely home
cooked meal. Then, you can save the leftovers for meals throughout the week. Alternatively, this is also a
great saturday or sunday activity. You can set your crockpot up in the morning, run your errands, and
when you return home have a big portion of your food prep down.
One of the easiest crockpot meals I have ever seen is Salsa Chicken. Simply do this:
1 large pack chicken breasts (skinless and boneless)
1 large jar salad (any flavor, no added sugar)
Additional garlic cloves or powder to taste or cumin
Cook on low for 8 hours (or on high for 4 hours)
You can shred the chicken, or chop it. Whichever you prefer.
This makes a great topping for salads, or over cooked, frozen veggies with some guacamole (I like Wholly
Guacamole brand). You can also add it to a high fiber wrap with some lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and
This is also a great party dish to pass. Just bring a bag of Tostitos scoops, and a jar of queso, and you
have nachos to go (not a healthy dish, but a good party dish). Then, you have a crowd pleasing dish for
those that want to enjoy a treat, but also a clean option for yourself if you are watching your intake (just
enjoy the salsa chicken on it’s own on a plate with veggies).
3. Buy meal “kits” from major grocery store chains
I am noticing a nice trend from stores like Wegmans who are offering meal “kits.” The main ingredients
are already chopped, seasoned, and prepared for you. All you need to do it cook it, or grill it. That’s it. Just
follow the instructions. Add a bag of frozen veggies to this meal, and you can really spread it out. These
types of stores are also offering many meal options as well, and seem to rotate offerings seasonally. This
time of year you can probably find a lot of pre-made grill kits.
I have personally tried a few of the Wegmans brand oven bag meals (like the chicken cacciatore), and the
results were great! I just added a salad (out of a bag, nothing fancy), and a side of steamed broccoli
(again, out of a bag pre-washed and pre-cut) and my meal was healthy, and easily prepared and served.
This option is a bit more of an investment, but it sure beats eating a meal out, or paying a medical bill
down the road when your health has suffered from eating fast food, or candy bars for a meal. Paying
Wegmans for a pre packed meal sounds much more enjoyable, don’t you think?
4. Use bulk salad bars
Bulk salad bars are the greatest thing ever. Especially if you have access to a store like Wegmans
(another plug for Wegmans. You’d think they are paying me to say these things, but they aren’t.) Whole
Foods is also known for their awesomely extensive veggies bars. Bulk salad bars are great for the very
pickiest of eaters, since they offer so many options to veggies, and often times, meats, fruits, and some
starch dishes, as well. You can easily build a well rounded meal effortlessly.
To make the most out of your bulk salad experience so that it doesn’t turn into a binge fest, load your
carton in the following manner:
Choose 2 vegetables (ex pre made salad, marinated mushrooms) —> choose your protein (sometimes I
steal this from the asian hot bar for flavor!) —> choose your carb (protein, rice, beets) —> choose your fat
(avocado cubes, or olive oil vinaigrette).
Your diet may vary based on your goals, but no one can go wrong by starting with two types of veggies,
and adding a protein.
Alternatively, you can also bring your meat from home (like your salsa crockpot chicken) and just build a
veggie platter to go with it. You can also snag a salmon packet from the dry food aisle, and just add that
to your salad. You really can’t mess up a bulk salad bar eating experience as long as you follow my
5. Rotisserie chicken
I think everyone knows, and love the rotisserie chicken trick for fast food prep. But, if you don’t, I am
about to change your food prep world
Nearly every large grocery store chain now offers hot rotisserie chickens. They are simply wonderful, and
can feed you, and several other people for several days.
All you need to do to make a complete meal is to add a bag of salad, add a salad dressing (I like salsa, or
Wholly guacamole so you aren’t adding a ton of oils), and maybe add a second vegetable on the side.
Maybe even some 90 second Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice, or a microwaveable sweet potato.
Again, this is absolutely minimal food prep for you, and you can enjoy a good, hot meal on the spot. Then,
you can eat the leftovers for days.
Some other ideas for rotisserie chicken:
-add it to an omelette or egg scramble
-add it to a high fiber wrap for a burrito
-make it into a soup
-toss it with some roasted veggies for a flavorful meal
-put it on top of a pre-made pizza crust (low carb, p28 brand, cauliflower, brown rice, any of those options)
So you see, food prep is not nearly the monster people have made it out to be. It can be totally doable
with 15 minutes of time a night, or less (this may vary per family). Or, set aside one hour a week to cook,
and pack your food.
Remember, there is nothing wrong with paying for convenience if it ensures that you will eat a healthy
meal. You can either pay it now for washed veggies, or pay it to your doctor down the road. I think I’d
rather eat my investment, how about you?