If you ask anyone who lives a healthy lifestyle what their secret to eating well is, you will see one common trend. This one thing to they all do is: meal prep. Batch cooking food for the week and portioning it out into Tupperware. Instagram and social media is filled with snaps of beautifully stacked containers of food to fuel a busy life.
But here's the caveat — what if you are the type to get bored eating the same thing every day. The type of person who dreads leftovers. To many, the assumption is that meal prep is a glorified version of a leftover meal plan that sounds pretty boring and bland. The truth of the matter is: meal prep doesn't mean making a bunch of the same meal for the whole week . . . and here are ways to add variety without always adding extra prep time. Let me explain.
It's all about mixing and matching — utilizing pre-cooked ingredients without making entire meals in advance. I prep a bunch of plain protein like chicken, and plain carbs like quinoa, and store in separate containers. Not that I'm going to have the same chicken quinoa bowl every day — I think I'd hate that by day two, and end up chucking my pre-made food and walking across the street for an overpriced salad. To keep the variety (it really is the spice of life), I picked a few different recipe ideas from Pinterest and social media that use chicken and quinoa — and they're all totally different. I also mix and match different protein & carb sources for my meals throughout the day.
Proteins = roasted chicken breast, steamed cod, sautéed extra lean ground turkey
Carb sources = boiled rice, roasted plain potato
Lunch = southwest chicken/ rice bowl with cumin/ paprika
Dinner = stir-fry with assorted vegetable made with extra lean ground turkey, colourful bell pepper, zucchini and chives
Lunch = mock shepherd’s pie with extra lean ground turkey mixed with tomato sauce
& VEG topped with mashed potato
Dinner = stir-fried chicken with vegetables, ginger & soy sauce over rice
Lunch = lemon/ herb cod over spinach and rice sautéed together
Dinner = seafood stew with cod, frozen vegetables, crushed tomatoes, dried herbs,
Lunch = rice skillet with frozen vegetables and chopped chicken
Dinner = twice baked potatoes topped with ground turkey mixed with tomato paste
Lunch = cold potato and spinach salad topped with cod and roasted bell peppers
Dinner = chicken salad on lettuce served with potato wedges
You can also make rice or potato dishes that don't have chicken (hello, protein powder + cinnamon breakfast rice porridge!) and chicken recipes that don’t use quinoa, like an arugula chicken salad. But having the chicken cooked and rice in Tupperware ready to go makes life a lot easier. Same amount of cook time, but I have flexible ingredients that work for multiple recipes, allowing for a varied weekly menu.
Having a well stocked freezer and pantry with non-perishable, long lasting ingredients means you can get creative with meals in minutes. Here are my top ingredients to keep around:
• Multiple different types of frozen vegetables
• Canned crushed tomatoes
• Variety of condiments like mustard, pickles, apple cider vinegar, minced ginger…
• Versatile staples like seeds, oatmeal, milk of choice
• A range of spices & herbs like cinnamon, cumin, chili, turmeric, paprika, dried herbs, steak spice… flavour food without the calories
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