Invest in quality food containers
Before you start chopping and peeling and slicing and dicing, you need to have the right equipment to hold the fruits of your labor. If you’re prepping a week’s worth of meals, FoodSaver vacuum-sealed containers are a worthy investment. Not only are they durable and BPA-free (translation: no harmful chemicals to stain them or leach into your food), they also keep food fresh up to two times longer than other storage units because all the air is sucked out, making it harder for bacteria to grow or food to spoil. “For me, meal prep is about doing the work when you have the time, which is usually on the weekend. FoodSaver containers extend the life of my food so I can have fresh food ready all week long,” says celebrity chef Damaris Phillips, Food Network Star and FoodSaver spokesperson. Here’s how your food storage containers could make you sick.
Plan a week-long menu
Meal prep doesn’t mean you need to eat the same meal for five days straight. Choose staples from each food group—one grain, one or two proteins, and a variety of veggies, then use the same ingredients all week with different flavor combinations. “I try to think about using those same ingredients as a breakfast dish, in a cold application for lunch, and then dinner,” says Phillips. For example, if you make a big batch of quinoa, you can treat it as you would oatmeal for your morning meal, scoop it on top of a salad for lunch, and pair it with a protein and some roasted veggies for dinner. Explore new flavor combos by trying out different mixed spice blends (Pereg offers everything from curry to BBQ to Cajun), which takes the guesswork out of it. Need more ideas? Check out these delicious quinoa recipes.
Even though the bulk of your meal prep will probably be done when you have the most spare time on the weekend, set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to do a mini lunch prep session as soon as you get home from work using all the food you prepped ahead of time. Build a salad that won’t wilt in your FoodSaver container—pour dressing on the bottom and layer fresh veggies and a protein on top. Or, try Rubbermaid’s new balance Meal Kit; designed by registered dietician nutritionist Marisa Moore, RDN, it has perfectly portioned units to make sure you get the proper amount of each type of food group. “Many of my clients have a hard time maintaining a diet or deciding how much they need to eat. This is a good visual and starting place,” she says. The kit also comes with a booklet of Moore-crafted-and-approved recipes you can use for meal prep inspiration.