Don’t overthink things
Shutterstock If you’re new to home cooking or meal prep, it can seem daunting to visualize a week’s worth of meals all at once. “When anybody is just starting the process of cooking, I always say it takes practice and nobody got to be a great cook on their first try,” says Phillips. Don’t add extra stress to the task by worrying about messing things up, just start out with simple dishes first. “Learn to cook brown rice with a little salt and butter or olive oil. Learn to boil noodles properly or sauté onions right. Once you get those basics down, you’ll be all good and feel more confident.” Focus on choosing your food staples and then look for easy recipes to transform them. Take even more of the pressure off by stocking your pantry and fridge with items you can add to your prepped food in a pinch, like Three Bridges kale or basil pesto, Botticelli or Rao’s pasta sauce, and Just Dressing by Hampton Creek. You can also keep pre-made pizza crust (try Caulipower, made with cauliflower and a good way to sneak extra nutrients into your diet) on hand–just top with your prepped veggies and protein and you can have a quick and fun meal on the table in minutes.
Embrace one-pot meals
Stripped Pixel/Shutterstock One of Phillips’ foolproof pro tips is to fill containers with all the ingredients for a one-pot meal. All you have to do is dump it all in a pot after work and dinner is served! If faro is your grain of the week, scoop a layer into the bottom of a container. Perhaps you seared off a bunch of turkey or chicken sausage for your protein (try Diestel turkey sausage or chorizo)—throw that on top next. Add a layer of raw vegetables that cook quickly, like spinach or shaved fennel, and top it off with your favorite grated cheese. The next night, transfer it to a pot and cook it in a bit of chicken stock until it’s steaming. Then, enjoy!
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock It’s OK to cut corners when you’re juggling a busy job and a family. If you only had time to prep your grains and veggies between weekend soccer practice and grocery shopping, stock up on proteins you can freeze and cook quickly. Veggie burgers are a healthful option that are rich in protein and fiber and cook fast. Trick your kids into thinking they’re eating beef by trying Beyond Meat, a one-of-a-kind plant-based patty that looks and tastes similar to a regular burger, thanks to a proprietary system that turns plant proteins into the fibrous structure you find in animal protein. For a fun twist, eat it between pretzel buns by Pretzilla. It’s also a good idea to consider pre-cooked chicken, like Johnsonville’s new flame-grilled line. Use it in a salad for lunch, then between slices of bread (for the carb-conscious, try Nature’s Own’s new Life line of low-calorie bread that’s as little as 40 calories per slice!) with stackable veggies for a quick dinner.