Meal Prep Sunday is just what it sounds like: planning and preparing a series of meals all at once. It’s not a new idea, but it’s recently become a fixation among people who seek good nutrition despite tight budgets and busy schedules. Not only is it an efficient (and cost-effective!) way to cook, but it lends itself to healthy eating. Food “prep” can mean a variety of things — from fully preparing each meal so it’s ready to eat, to simply washing and chopping ingredients in order to streamline the cooking process. The ultimate goal on Meal Prep Sunday is to invest effort early to ensure thoughtful, healthy eating later. When you prepare food for the week ahead, it’s easier to preserve good eating habits even after the chaos of the week begins. We have a few general guidelines for becoming a Meal Prep Sunday master, as well as an incredibly easy and delicious mini frittata recipe for healthy grab-and-go breakfasts you can make ahead of a week’s worth of hectic mornings. Enjoy!
Tip #1: The Slow Cooker Is Your Meal Prep Sunday Friend The slow cooker is the absolute perfect tool for food prep and easy dinners throughout the week. There are a few ways you can use it. The first is to find one recipe you love (like a soup or chili), press start on Sunday, and by Monday morning you’ll have five lunches magically ready to go. If you don’t need a ton of variety over the course of your week, this is a great way to get all of your lunches done at once. If variety is important, we recommend creating “slow cooker packs” for dinner. Each Sunday, choose three to five slow cooker recipes that sound good to you. Simply put all of the ingredients into large freezer bags, mark the meal and the date you want it, and store in the fridge. Each morning, simply grab a bag, pour it into the slow cooker, and press start. By the time you’re home from work, dinner is served! The great thing with these meal packs is that you can make a dozen or more at a time.
Tip #2: Make One-Pan Dinners Happen If your cooking style is more spontaneous, there’s no need to make full meals all at once. Simply cleaning and chopping your herbs, vegetables, and fruits can make the week ahead a breeze. Cleaning meat and prepping your seasoning ahead of time only add to the convenience. We also recommend cooking grains like quinoa and rice, or steaming starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, in large quantities before the week begins. One-pan dinners are the perfect way to utilize this type of prep. Since veggies will already be chopped and meats already marinated, simply spread them on a sheet pan with avocado or olive oil, and bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, depending on the specific ingredients you’re using. Because your grains will already be cooked as well, simply scoop a portion onto everyone’s plate and heat. Voila! Another option is to create “stir fry bags” out of your chopped veggies and meats. Just pour them into a wok for a quick, no-mess dinner.
Tip #3: Try to Get Your Vegetables at Lunch Creating a week’s worth of salads each Sunday is an excellent way to integrate a larger (and more diverse) set of vegetables and fruits into your diet. Every plant comes with its own unique composition of micronutrients; “eating the rainbow” throughout the week will help you cover your nutrient bases. Choose 6-12 varieties each week (or more!). On Sunday, pick a few varieties for each salad container and build interesting combinations as your base. Next, top each container with a different fat, like raw nuts or avocado. Last, choose a protein like chickpeas, quinoa, chicken, or hard boiled eggs to make your salads satiating. Half of a lemon and a tablespoon of olive oil is the perfect dressing. You can keep oil at work, or bring in mini containers to dress right before you eat so your salad doesn’t get soggy.
Tip #4: Meal Prep Sunday Supercharges Breakfast We’ve all heard it before: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But you may find it is also the most challenging meal to find time to prepare, given how rushed we tend to be before work or school. We recommend getting 15-20 grams of protein within two hours of waking up to kick start your metabolism. One favorite Meal Prep Sunday option for breakfast is a smoothie pack. For smoothie packs, combine greens, fruit, and booster foods like chia or flax seeds in bags; then, store them in the freezer. Each morning, simply pour the contents into a blender with protein powder and your preferred liquid. Breakfast is served.
Meal Prep Sunday Recipe for Mini Frittatas Another great option is this recipe! Any vegetables and meats can be substituted here, so feel free to create your own perfect combination.
- 5 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups egg whites
- 1 1/2 cup spinach
- 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 red onion
- small handful of basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blend or whisk whole eggs, egg whites, salt, and pepper. Step 2: Grease muffin tins. Slice onions and basil. Cut tomatoes in half. Wash and dry spinach. Evenly distribute vegetables in 12 muffin tins.
Step 3: Pour egg mixture over vegetables, until 3/4 full. Top with cheese (if using).
Step 4: Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned and cooked through.
Step 5: Muffins can be stored in the fridge and reheated in a toaster oven throughout the week for a quick grab-and-go option in the morning. So make them a part of your next (or first) Meal Prep Sunday!