The Age of Meal Prepping is well underway, and Instagrams of acai bowls and French bulldogs are being taken over by photos of perfectly prepared, evenly divided, and properly stored meals all laid out—dare I say, on an OCD level-- for the week ahead. In an ideal world where we all have unlimited time on our hands to shop, prep, and make all of our meals in advance, busy schedules tend to do what they do best, and work, social activities and kids manage to take over. Personally, I have never been able to master a true “meal prep,” though I admire anyone who has and would love your tips for getting this done! Rather, my wife does all the shopping and cooking, and we like to keep a handful items stocked in the fridge/pantry so that, even after late nights at the office or studio, we can still come home to a quick and healthy meal. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming, so here are some of our favorite items to stock up on.
In the Fridge:
I always love keeping fresh herbs in the fridge. Dill, cilantro and rosemary are some of my favorites, to name a few. Since we don’t cook with added salts or sauces (which are often loaded with added sugar), herbs are a great way to create massive flavor while boosting nutrient value. You can add herbs to everything, from veggies and pastas to meat and fish. Try making white fish wrapped in parchment paper with olive oil and fresh lemon slices, topped with dill and cilantro. Bake in the oven and I guarantee it will come out bursting with flavor! Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes if you like a kick.
Since vegetables tend to go bad quickly, I stock up on my favorites weekly, knowing I incorporate them into meals every day. Spinach is my favorite leafy green for salads, sautéed with egg whites in the morning, or as a side dish at dinner. Arugula is always in the fridge, as well, as salads are my go to for lunch. I can never get enough zucchini and cucumbers, as they are so versatile and incredibly hydrating. If you know you aren’t going to be able to eat some of your produce before they go bad, you can always steam them and freeze for soups or smoothies at a later time.
I keep fresh ginger root in my fridge at all times, as my wife loves making different infused waters in mason jars. Ginger is great to add to meals, as it has anti-inflammatory properties and aids in digestion. Try making a stir fry with sesame oil and fresh ginger, and you won’t be missing the soy sauce or the added sodium that comes with it.
In the Pantry:
Quinoa, lentils and brown rice are my pantry staples. They are insanely easy to make, and you can make a big batch to have left over for the week. These are my go to healthy carb options, as they are so versatile depending on how you cook them, and are a great addition to any meal or eaten on their own. Try making brown rice cooked in water only, then adding the juice of two limes and a handful of fresh chopped cilantro to garnish.
In addition to herbs, spices are the best way to add flavor and more nutrients to our meals. People have been using spices for thousands of years for all of their amazing healing powers and anti-inflammatory properties. I keep fresh bottles of turmeric, paprika, cumin and red pepper flakes stocked at all times. For example, roasting veggies or sweet potatoes with turmeric and paprika really kicks things up a notch, and if you feel like something is too bland, reach for the red pepper flakes instead of the salt.
Chia, hemp and flax seeds are my favorite boosters. Hemp seeds make a great bonus to any salad for some more flavor and texture, while I love adding flax seeds to a smoothie or yogurt. Overnight chia seed pudding is an easy nutritious breakfast that can be made the night before, and is even good for dessert!
Tuna is one of the best sources of lean protein and healthy fats, as it’s very bioavailable (just make sure to buy the cans that are “no salt added”). When you get home and want to make a healthy delicious meal in under 10 mins, tuna is your answer. For an easy salad, simply use your favorite leafy greens as a base and chop up a handful of fresh dill, adding half to the salad and half to a pan to saute with some chopped zucchini and EVOO. Add the zucchini to the salad, with half an avocado, juice of a lemon and some pepper.
*P.Tip: If you’re trying to eat healthier or cut back on certain foods, don’t keep your weaknesses lying around! For me, this means not keeping granola and nuts in the house, as I can never have just ¼ cup of granola or 10 almonds-- I end up eating the whole bag! Maybe for you that means chips or sweets—just know your habits, and don’t make it easy for you to go overboard.
What do you guys like to keep handy in your kitchen? Any tips on how to meal prep? Share in the comments!