Eating healthy all week is no easy feat, especially if you have a packed schedule, children, a busy job, or just don’t like doing excess kitchen duty. But healthy eating comes with so many benefits, and prepping for your meals ahead of time will keep you both healthy and sane! The best foods to prep don’t have to be time consuming or elaborate. You want to focus on foods with fiber to keep you full, foods that will keep at least 4-5 days, and meals that everyone will enjoy. The best way to do this is to make a large batch of the following foods that can all be used in a variety of ways. You can pair them with one another, use other foods with them as toppings, or use them as fillers in sandwiches, soups, wraps and in salads.
Keep these 10 foods prepped in your fridge all week, which you can prepare all in one or two hours on a weekend or one day when you get home from work. Trust us, you’ll feel better mentally and physically all week with this arsenal of healthy and tasty weapons at hand. Kiss the take-out goodbye and get in your kitchen ASAP!
1. Whole Grain Rice
Rice is super star food to keep on hand, but it’s best to choose the whole grain brown, wild, or black instead of refined white rice or even yellow and red. Whole grain versions contain the healthiest parts of the grain, the bran and endosperm, that come with heart-healthy benefits, fiber, and a component of antioxidants. Whole grain rice is a great salad topper, addition to soup, can be used in place of oats for a porridge at breakfast, or can easily be topped with a batch of steamed veggies for a filling, healthy lunch. Rice is also high in amino acids and healthy carbohydrates when consumed in whole grain form.
2. Roasted Veggies
Roasted veggies are great to keep on hand all week long because as they sit in the fridge, their sweetness develops and they’re also a bit easier to digest than many raw versions are. Lastly, roasted veggies are easy to cook ahead. Just pan roast them with whatever spices and seasonings you enjoy and you’re done! You can also reheat these to use in soups, toss them onto salads or just use them as healthy snacks when you’ve got the munchies. Try sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, squash, along with beets, onions, parsnips and turnips.
If you don’t like rice, then opt for quinoa. It not only has more protein, but is also less starchy. Quinoa will also keep well all week and can be used however other grains are. Some great choices for meals include quinoa porridge, broccoli salad for lunch or dinner, or stuffed quinoa peppers as an easy weeknight dinner.
4. Beans and legumes
Beans and legumes also make great foods to keep on hand if you tolerate them well. They’re a perfect ingredient in vegan chili, a terrific salad or soup ingredient and can be used to make vegan burritos with in no time. Plus, beans and legumes are great sources of iron, protein and fiber. If you have trouble digesting them, give them a soak before cooking, and mash them once they are cooked to aid in digestion.
Oats are another easy grain to prep ahead. They can get soggy if you reheat them, so instead, just soak them overnight in the fridge to enjoy as overnight oatmeal in the morning instead. Some of the benefits of consuming them this way is that they’re easier to digest, and are easy for commuters of all kinds.
It’s also a fantastic idea to prep your smoothies ahead of time. Make your own smoothie freezer prep jars so you’re ready to blend and go, OR you can even freeze your smoothies ahead of time. To do this, make a large batch at the beginning of the week and store in the freezer in mason jars. Defrost one the night before in your fridge and it will be all ready to drink by the next morning. Freezing helps lock in the nutrients that can be lost if you let smoothies sit in the fridge all week.
7. Trail Mix
Trail mix is terrific snack idea to prep ahead of time. One, because store bought options always contain added sugars and oils, and/or are just too pricey. Just mix up your favorite raw nuts, seeds, and some inexpensive organic dried fruit like raisins or figs, and you’ll have an easy snack that’s also a good source of protein and fiber.
8. Batch Made Salads
Salads are another must-have for keeping on hand. They can be prepped ahead of time, just be sure not to dress them ahead of time so they don’t get soggy, but do be sure to cover them well. (Glass Pyrex storage dishes work great here.) Add some kale, spinach, romaine, tomatoes, cukes, and whatever other veggies you enjoy, give it all a good toss, and perhaps include some chopped avocado that you can use as a natural dressing. Or, prep a salad dressing for the week and carry it in individual containers for your salads so they’ll be read to go in no time. Feel free to use some of the grains, beans, and veggies above to use on your batch made salads as well.
9. Sliced Fruits and Veggies
Sliced carrots, grape tomatoes, celery sticks, cucumber slices, oranges, apples and berries all make healthy foods to keep in the fridge. If you can afford to buy them all pre-chopped or individually packaged, great. If not, just chop your own or portion them out yourself instead. These are the best to keep on hand for snacks so you’re less likely to reach for unhealthier items such as chips, cookies, and candies.
10. Chia Pudding Cups
Of course, we can’t leave out one of the best foods to keep on hand- chia pudding! Make it dessert by adding raw cacao, cocoa and stevia, or just keep it as a healthy breakfast by using chia, berries, non-dairy milk and some oats if you choose. You can even add non-dairy yogurt, along with superfoods if you choose to do so. Keep your chia pudding in cups so it’s ready to go anytime you need a quick breakfast or an instant snack.
You can easily prep your grains in a slow-cooker, pan roast your veggies, and portion out salads, snacks, and make smoothies all in an hour or two in your kitchen for the entire week. If you have any healthy meal prep tips for plant-based kitchens, be sure to let us here them in the comments!
Also see Streamline Your Meals to One Hour a Day to Make Plant-Based Eating Easier for more quick kitchen tips!
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