This post is sponsored by RUBBERMAID®, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
We’ve all been there. Days that are so busy that we either eat lunch from a vending machine (Snickers and a Coke…lunch of champions!), we eat whatever our kids have leftover on their plates (a bite of sandwich, a couple slurps of soup, a few chips), or we head right to a drive-through (God bless Chick-Fil-A). You know it’s true! And you also know it’s not frugal and it’s certainly not healthy. Life is busy, though. Our days are full of appointments and meetings and housework and child rearing. It’s hard to squeeze in a healthy, home cooked meal at lunch time. So what are we supposed to do? Well, we meal prep.
Meal prepping seems to be trendy in homemaker and fitness circles but it’s really something everyone can and should be doing. It’s basically preparing some or all of your meals in advance. You cook your food, portion it out, and store it so that it’s ready for you to grab and go when you need it. Instead of taking the time to cook a fresh meal everyday, you do it all at once and have it ready to go for the week. You can prep breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even snacks. Think of it this way…it’s like making your own healthy, homemade TV dinners!
- saves time
- saves money
- saves energy
- and saves your sanity
I’d call that a win! I’m a busy mom. I have busy kids. After homeschooling and cleaning and laundry and running my kids here and there and everywhere, I have very little time. I’d love to prepare three nutritious meals for them, and myself, daily, but it just doesn’t happen. And, really…who the heck has energy for that?!
Around lunchtime a kid will invariably tell me they’re starving which makes me realize that I’m hungry, as well. We end up hitting the drive through or I throw some frozen, processed meal together real quick. I don’t like spending extra money and I certainly don’t like eating junk food. When you meal prep you are in control of your nutrition. You get to choose healthy foods. You are in control of your finances. Money is not flying out the window. You are in control of your time. Spend an hour once a week prepping and save countless hours during the week. You stay sane. Nothing stresses me out like being hangry and having three hangry kids!
Meal prepping is fairly simple, especially if you start small. (You can work your way up to prepping multiple meals but I like to start with just lunch.) It all boils down to choosing the right recipes and the right containers, and then just getting busy!
There are two things to consider when deciding which foods to prep: ease of cooking and types of food. There are some foods that just don’t fare well when cut and stored in the fridge for several days. Greens, like lettuce, will wilt after awhile. Berries may get mushy or start to mold. Crisp foods like crackers and chips may lose their crunch. Almost everything else is fair game, though! Cooked grains, pasta, meat, beans, fresh or roasted veggies, whole fruit, nuts, and cheeses are all great choices. The whole point of meal prepping is to save time so I prefer to stick with easy recipes. Single recipe meals, especially one dish meals, are my favorite. They not only save me time but save me the energy of clean up, as well. Scroll down a bit and I have a colorful, delicious one pan recipe for you! #highfive
Organization and storage make my heart sing so I could talk about containers all day. Yes, even meal prep containers! There are quite a few options out there but I have a list of features I look for in an ideal container. I want a container that is divided so that I can have various food combos without having one big sloppy food mess. I want a container that helps with portion control. It has to be a good size, though. It can’t be too small or too big. And lastly, they have to be dishwasher safe. Back to that whole “saving time” thing but the dishwasher is my friend and I use it often. haha I’ve tried several different containers but my all time favorite (and the only ones I use now) are Rubbermaid® TakeAlongs®. Let me tell you how wonderful these things are! They’re a great size, 3.7 cups, and there are 10 in each pack. That means you can fill it with plenty of food and you can prep for an entire week at a time. Heck, one pack lets you prep both breakfast and lunch for every weekday. Score! They have a divided base and Quick Clik Seal lids that ensure your food is securely stored. I have limited kitchen space so it’s a huge bonus that they stack nicely both empty in the cabinets and filled in the fridge. They’re microwave-safe so you can heat the food up right in the container. They’re top-rack dishwasher safe so I can just throw them in the dishwasher because again, ain’t nobody got time for hand washing! They’re also BPA-free which makes me very happy. (All the praise hands for BPA-free plastic!) Lastly, they’re so easy to find. You can get them at Walmart, either in store or right here.
Roasted Chicken and Rainbow Veggies
Here’s a simple recipe that’s perfect for meal prepping. You can follow it exactly or make it your own; just switch up the seasonings or substitute whatever vegetables you’d like. After you remove it from the oven, let it cool a bit and then portion it evenly into your containers. It should keep nicely in the fridge for up to five days. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" pieces
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups cooked rice or quinoa
- Preheat oven to 450.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Place chopped chicken and veggies in a single layer on the baking sheet.
- Sprinkle seasonings and garlic evenly over top.
- Drizzle with olive oil.
- Bake 20-25 minutes or until veggies are charred.
- Put 1/2 cup rice into each of four containers.
- Divide chicken and veggies and place on top of rice.
- Store in fridge for up to five days.