10 Expert Meal-Prep Tips

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Planning ahead can help us eat the nutritious foods that make up our best intentions (and steer clear of empty calories). Here are 10 expert meal-prep tips recommended by chefs and nutritionists!

1. Invest in air-tight storage containers (wide-mouth ball jars are cheap and work great).

2. Plan a weekly menu. Pick three meals & shop for them in advance. Smart planning makes for smart meal prepping.

3. Cook grains and beans in bulk! Tinned cans not only create waste, but most are lined with plastic. Throw a pot of beans on the stove & they'll be to use in salads, soups and dips all week long! Quinoa and brown rice can be frozen in ball jars for home-made, zero-waste minute-rice.

4. Roast veggies in bulk. Market beets for salad, fresh eggplant for pasta, and baby potatoes for a side dish can all go in the oven together!

5. Sauce making Sundays! Pesto, salad dressing, mayo, and marinara are so much better when they're homemade. By dedicating a Sunday afternoon sauce hour, you'll have them ready to use all week long.

6. Stock. Stock makes everything better. It adds nutrients and flavor, takes very little (active) cooking time, and it's made from food scraps. Start a stock bag in your freezer and add bones, carrot stems, left-over celery -- everything that won't last. Twice a month slowly boil the scraps in a pot of water & you'll never use a bouillon cube again!

7. Love leftovers! With a “cook once, eat twice” mindset, you’ll get more bang for your meal-prep buck!

8. Prep multi-use ingredients. Hummus can be an after-school snack, a sandwich spread, or eaten with eggs on toast. Beans are a base for chili, a topping for salad, a side dish to accompany roasted chicken! Having multi-purpose ingredients on hand allows for easy improvisation!

9. Stock your pantry: A well stocked pantry is a chef’s secret arsenal (Alice Waters has a whole book devoted to the subject), and this is doubly true for the prepper. There’s nothing worse than assembling your pre-prepped meal, only to realize that you’re out of oil, vinegar —you name it. My cant-live-without pantry items include: local olive oil, local honey, crunchy sea salt, sherry vinegar, capers, anchovies, thyme, cumin and fresh garlic and greens. (Those last two aren’t technically pantry items, but they’re crucial to the well-stocked kitchen).

10. Prepare and freeze one complete meal, lasagna, stew or enchiladas are great. Then when the unexpected occurs, you'll have a nutritious, homemade meal, ready to go!

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