Side dishes and breakfast ideas to make meal prep easier
Last week we covered some ways to make your week easier by preparing the protein portion of your meals for the week ahead of time. This week we will cover prepping veggies and “starches” for the week along with a few ideas to simplify breakfast.
Like anything we eat – fresher is better. Keeping a good inventory of frozen vegetables in the freezer is going to help in a pinch. As a note when I refer to vegetables I am not including peas or corn. These are starchy vegetables and don’t offer the same nutrition value of green veggies. First thing we have to conquer if you or members of your household are 100% sure you do not like vegetable, please; take another trip through the produce section. That is a whole wide variety of flavors and textures to dislike. Maybe it’s time to reconsider your view of vegetables. They don’t always have to be steamed or raw. A great way to get some vegetable side dishes prepared ahead of time without having mushy tasteless broccoli is to grill or broil extra ahead of time. While that chicken is cooking on the grill you can also be grilling some summer squash spears, carrots, or asparagus. As long as you have the grill fired up or the oven on, make extra for another night. No extra work, no extra dishes.
Starches give you limitless options. Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, rice, quinoa, and couscous are just a few options. I never just bake enough potatoes/ sweet potatoes for one meal. I bake at least twice as many as I need. These also can go on the grill. When preparing a starch like rice, cook enough for two meals – it will hold well in the refrigerator. Don’t want to serve the same thing twice in one week? Rice pilaf one night can become Spanish rice another night. Sweet potatoes are wonderful with a little coconut oil, salt and pepper. You can also sprinkle them with curry powder for a sweet savory flavor. Get creative and carry over seasoning from your main dish into your side dishes.
Breakfast doesn’t have to be cold cereal or prepackaged muffins. Boiled eggs are a great grab and go breakfast along with a piece of fruit. Make up your favorite pancake mix and pour it into muffin pans and add some fresh fruit (strawberry slices, apple pieces or blueberries are all easy) bake them in the oven and you have mini pancakes baked up 12 at a time. Yogurt parfaits are great in the summer and you can quickly make a week’s worth ahead of time by setting up an assembly line. You can use this HerSUPPZ.com Salad Shaker or any 8-12 ounce container. I prefer a twist on lid for less mess. Scoop in your plain or vanilla yogurt, then fruit (frozen fruit works great) and have some granola on hand to sprinkle on top. You can also stir chia seeds into your parfait for a protein boost. You can throw those same ingredients into the blender and now you have a smoothie.
Incorporating meal planning into your life is easy if you do it a little at a time. Small changes can save you a lot of time down the line. You don’t need to schedule an entire day of cooking and washing dishes to meal prep properly. The whole idea is to make life easier and cooking a little less stressful and most importantly save time while continuing to eat healthy.