Meal prepping is my second favourite way to keep up my healthy lifestyle all week long. (Working out is number one in case you were wondering). When I have prepared food in my fridge, not only am I making better eating choices at home, but I’m also less inclined to say yes to going out for dinner, brunch or drinks as I don’t want my own food to go to waste.
Spending a few hours on Sunday or Monday to shop and cook is one of the easiest ways to stay on track, however, the thought of actually meal prepping is so daunting to so many people.
If you are new to meal prepping, it definitely takes some trial and error to determine exactly how much food to buy and prepare and this can differ week to week. But regardless of how much food I am cooking, here are the 5 staples I can’t prep without:
1. Garlic Powder
My mom and sister who are both chefs are probably rolling their eyes reading this as they are all about the freshest and best possible ingredients for cooking. And I understand where they are coming from, however, my top rules for meal prepping are to make it: quick and easy. Garlic is my favourite seasoning and I use it on pretty much everything I make (protein + veggies) but I save time and avoid the extra clean up by just using it in powder form. Using garlic and other spices is a super easy way to keep your prepped food flavourful but also healthier. For example, next time you are prepping chicken, try swapping a saucy marinade for spices which will cut calories, sugar content and time.
2. Sea Salt
Speaking of spices, a really good sea salt is key to big batch cooking. Just a pinch to every recipe will add a ton of flavour to even the simplest dishes. When I’m making my salmon, all I use are sea salt and pepper. Again, this minimizes clean up and keeps the fish healthy. Sea salt also contains many important minerals including potassium, calcium and magnesium. And if you are curious about the difference between table salt and sea salt, table salt is just processed seal salt, usually with some additives to give it a consistent texture, which reduces the quality of the minerals in the salt.
3. Oil Spray
Another ingredient I add to all my prepared food is oil. Whether seasoning a pan or a tray of vegetables, a spray can of oil is the easiest way to exercise portion control. When roasting my vegetables, I will chop them, lay them on a baking sheet and quickly spray them so they are evenly covered. My favourite spray oil is Chosen Food’s Avocado Oil as there are no added ingredients or propane. No matter which oil you prefer (olive, grape-seed, etc.) try and choose a can that only has one ingredient: oil and watch out for added chemicals. Using a spray also eliminates clean up as you are not using any utensils to measure and distribute the oil.
When it comes to easy clean up, parchment paper is your best friend. When prepping my veggies to roast and chicken and salmon to bake, I always put a piece of parchment paper on the baking sheet first, for two reasons. Firstly, using parchment paper ensures the food won’t stick to the pan. Most of the time I can simply remove the paper and put the pan away without washing it which saves me so much time with my clean up. Secondly, using parchment paper eliminates the use of extra oil to keep your food from sticking. For example, I used to use oil with my fish so it wouldn’t stick. Most fish, especially salmon, are already oily and full of good fat naturally so adding the oil was fat overkill. Now I just use parchment paper and only season the fish it before I cook. My favourite brand is If You Care which is chlorine-free and pre-cut so there is less waste.
When all your prep is done you need to have somewhere to store this food. Although I mostly use plastic as I purchased so much of it when I first moved into my home, it really is best to use glass. Once my food is finished cooking, I avoid using extra dishes and place it right in the tupperware and let it cool down before it goes in the fridge. Adding heated food to, or re-heating foods in plastic releases chemicals into our food therefore glassware is your friend. My favourite brand is Pyrex as they have rubber lids that make them easy to use and store.
photos not my own – featured image from Buzz Feed.