Meal Prep Monday: How to add variety to your meal prep while maintaining simplicity

Do you want to eat healthy and save money by meal prepping, but have had these responses the few times you’ve attempted it?

-You get bored of eating the same thing after the second day of your prepped meals

-You end up taking four hours to finish making all the food, and spend another two to wash the dishes that have accumulated

-You hate the taste of leftovers after being in the fridge for 5 days (and who knows if they are even still good?)

-You can’t think of where to start, or how to structure the process and get overwhelmed so you never start

Here is a simple (and cheap way) to start your meal prep journey that will not take up all the time you could spend binge watching Game of Thrones, or procrastinating on the other 50 things you’re supposed to get done on Sunday. I have included a general guideline on how to simplify your meal prepping process, and an easy to follow step-by-step recipe on how to do it - create 8 meals in less than an hour!

  1. Choose 2 carb sources, 2 veggie sources, and 1 protein source to start. Plan out your meals, and list out all your required ingredients. This can also help you input your meals in a food tracker days prior, which will help you stay on track with your diet. By planning out your meals, it creates a grocery list to make sure you have everything you need before you get started.

  2. Cook the same meat, but change up the seasonings. Chicken Breast is a great example in how versatile it is. You can easily transform a dish simply by changing the palette so that you don’t get bored, but it doesn't take any additional steps in the prepping process.

  3. Have your storage containers ready. Make sure they are clean and accessible

  4. Put bulk ingredients into one Tupperware, and separate into individual meals later (this tool can be helpful to switch up the meal combinations of carbs, veggies, and meats, and takes up less room in the fridge)

  5. Invest in sauces and other versatile condiments. You can quickly turn chicken into BBQ chicken, or teriyaki chicken, or pollo asado in a matter of seconds with relatively low calorie sauces. (Check out the recipe guide to find an entire list compiled on low calorie sauces).

Below is an example of a quick meal prep for 8 meals that will add variety into your day, but will take less than 1 hour to complete, and uses minimal kitchen tools. It’s also relatively easy to do in case cooking is not your strength.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds chicken breast

  • 2 cups uncooked rice

  • 2 medium potatoes

  • 1 head broccoli

  • 2 cups green beans

For Potatoes:

-Prick potatoes with fork, and wrap in a wet paper towel. Put in the microwave for 8 minutes, or until soft. Cut in halves and place in a Tupperware.

For Rice:

-Boil 4 cups water with rice, and once boiling turn to simmer, cover, and continue to cook for 15 minutes. Place in separate Tupperware.

For Chicken:

-Season 1 pound of chicken with one set of seasonings (listed below)

-Season the other pound of chicken with a different seasoning blend

-Grill/Broil the chicken for 10 minutes each side (or until no longer pink)

-Separate the two seasoned chicken types into Tupperware

For Veggies:

-Cut up broccoli, season with salt and pepper, and microwave for 3-4 minutes. Place into individual Tupperware

-Season green beans with salt and pepper, and put into microwavable dish and cover. Heat for 5 minutes

Tip: To make veggies convenient to cook, buy the microwaveable bagged veggies and follow the directions on the package. There are also microwavable bagged potatoes.

Seasoning combinations to spice up your meal (pun intended):

Cajun:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sea salt

  • 1 tablespoon oregano

  • 1 tablespoon paprika

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

BBQ:

  • 1 tbsp sea salt

  • 1 tbsp ground pepper

  • 1 tbsp chili powder

  • 1 tbsp garlic powder

  • 1 tbsp paprika

  • 1 tbsp onion powder

Spanish:

  • 1 tbsp garlic powder

  • 1 tbsp chili powder

  • 1 tbsp onion powder

  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika

  • 2 tsp cumin

  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder

Italian:

  • 1-1/2 tsp oregano

  • 1 tsp parsley

  • 1 tsp thyme

  • 1/2 tsp basil

  • 1/2 tsp sage

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper

Lemon Herb:

  • 2 tbsp thyme

  • 1 tbsp rosemary

  • 1 tbsp sage

  • 1 tsp marjoram

  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper

  • 1/2 tsp celery seed

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

  • Lemon

Indian:

  • 2 tsp coriander

  • 1 tbs turmeric

  • 1-1/2 tsp cumin

  • 3/4 tsp ground mustard

  • 1/2 tsp cardamom

  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

  • 1/8 tsp cayenne

Now doesn’t that sound doable? And delicious!