We work very long hours; sometimes easily surpassing 70 hours in a week. When life gets really hectic, it can make it a lot harder to have the energy and drive to take the time to prepare healthy meals, which is ironic because the more demanding your life and schedule, the more you need to be careful about properly fueling yourself to keep up with that demand. We know all of you have families, work, school, and a million other things going on in your lives as well, so we thought we'd share our food prep tips with you.
There are a lot of different food prep ideas online and to be honest I've never been thrilled with most of them. Many seem to consist of encouraging people to cook up a bunch of meat, as well as a handful of servings of 1-2 different kinds of vegetables. The problem is that the same meal 5 times a week would be terribly boring and nutritionally redundant, thus making it harder to adhere to that style of eating long term. Additionally, when the food is pre-cooked days before, and then reheated days later, it loses much of it's nutritional value due to oxidative damage and loss of heat-sensitive vitamins. With the way we propose food prepping, your food is cooked fresh, meaning that it retains more of it's nutritional value. In instances when you can't throw together and cook a meal at work or on the go, using your fresh-chopped produce to cook a dish the night before or in the morning is still a better option as the food is far more fresh.
Here's how to make your food prep as fresh and nutritionally-dense as possible, as well as convenient, efficient, and easier to stick to:
- The sooner you tackle the task after buying your groceries, the more likely you are to eat all of that fresh produce. Try to do your produce prep within 24 hours of your grocery shopping.
- Thoroughly wash and then chop up your produce; aim to chop up an amount of food that you might go through in 2-4 days.
- While you're at it (and while you've got your kitchen a mess!), prep other food "staples" for the next few days; cook a large batch of rice or quinoa, slow cook some beans, prep & cook meat if you do include meat in your diet. This way, these items will be ready to quickly add into any of your dishes.
- Use glass containers to store them in your fridge; in the picture above we are actually using upcycled peanut butter jars (clearly we love peanut butter as well as fruits and veggies).
- Use your freshly-chopped produce in delicious dishes until you run out; then repeat the cycle over again.
Prepping your food ahead of time makes it more likely that you stick to your healthy eating habits & it also saves a lot of time over the week. This particular picture was from a random grocery shopping trip - our veggies vary wildly by season and what we remember to grab while we're at the store! Missing from this picture, but essential in our diet, is a ton of fresh fruit, potatoes, yams, nuts, rice, all different kinds of beans, quinoa, heart healthy cooking oils, dark chocolate, etc. Many of the containers in this picture hold more than 7 cups of food. We will eat all of this (as well as thousands of calories worth of the aforementioned beans, nuts, fruits, etc., etc.) in about 4-5 days. We are enormous advocates of worrying less about the quantity of calories you're eating, and more about the quality. Here's what you see in this picture:
- Carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, bell peppers, onions, bok choy, sugar snap peas & asparagus.
- All of our food is stored in glass (this is an entirely different topic, but glass is the most stable & non-toxic way to store consumables).
- The whole process takes less than one hour, but saves many hours over the course of your week.
- Food prepping ahead of time makes one big mess, but less mess for the next 4-5 days.
- Keep an abundance of your favorite fruits on hand so that you can wash and eat fresh whenever you get the munchies.
- While cutting the vegetables ahead of time may increase the oxidative damage, a slightly diminished nutrient level is preferable over not consuming the vegetables at all, as is what often happens when you go to the grocery store with good intentions and load up on vegetables that proceed to sit and go bad in your refrigerator.
We'd love to hear your food prep tricks and tips. Let us know what works for you!