You want to eat healthier. You know that adding the vitamins and minerals that come along with home-cooked meals will improve your health in more ways than one. But between work, taking care of your kids and home, exercise, and seeing friends, it can feel downright daunting to come back from a long day of work and grab fresh groceries, fire up the stove, chop up onions and veggies, and conquer a delicious, nutritious meal. Take-out or frozen meals therefore become easy staples.
We’re here to let you in on a trick: weekend meal prep. By preparing healthy meals ahead of time, all you have to do each evening is fire up the microwave or heat something up in the oven. We recommend setting aside an hour or two each Sunday – perhaps right before your favorite team’s football game, so the cooking can happen during play – to prep a meal for each day of the week. We promise it will be worth the time!
To make your Sunday meal prep easier, we’ve rounded up some of the best tools you’ll need to make preparing a week’s worth of food a breeze. Grab each of these materials this weekend and start chopping!
- A heavy duty cutting board. Because you’ll be chopping up a wide range of fruits and vegetables for the week ahead, a large, quality cutting board is essential. With wooden boards, be sure not to soak it between cutting as that can split the wood.
- A strong, durable, comfortable chef’s knife. A good chef’s knife is necessary for any kitchen, whether you’re prepping on Sunday or not. Find a knife that feels comfortable in your hand and keep it sharp with an electric or manual knife sharpener.
- An electric food chopper or food processor. When you need to cut up lots of veggies on the fly, an electric food chopper is your best friend. Set it to your desired chopping size, throw in a pepper, and there you have it – freshly cut veggies in no time. A food processor is best for chopping items up into even smaller pieces: grinding a zucchini to make bread, for instance, or turning tofu into a thinner base for protein-packed soups.
- A muffin pan. No – we aren’t encouraging you to make a hundred muffins to chomp on throughout the week (although that does sound delicious). Muffin pans make great bases for bite-sized meals like quiches, frittatas, mini black bean tacos, and more. Pop them out of the muffin tin and save in a storage container for pop-able lunches and dinners that delight the whole family.
- A variety of storage containers in different sizes. Tupperware is critical to your Sunday meal prep to ensure that foods stay fresh all week long. Grab a bunch of different sizes to maximize storage potential.
- Foods that won’t go bad easily over the week, including:
- Proteins: Eggs (boiled, with shells on, in the refrigerator) and lentils (cooked, in a sealed storage container with a bit of cooking water added) make for nutritious, versatile proteins that can be spiced up and added to a wide variety of recipes.
- Grains: Brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and pasta all stay delicious throughout the week if you cook them on Sundays. Each also serves as a great base for freshly cooked veggies and sauces.
- Fruits: Apples, grapes, and bananas are power fruits that stay fresh for days on end. Stick apples and grapes in the refrigerator to preserve their staying power; even if bananas do start to pass their ripe stage, you can always throw them in a banana bread or freeze them for a healthy ice cream base!
- Veggies: Sweet potatoes, cauliflower, and kale are all in-season vegetables that will stay fresh. Bake a bunch of sweet potatoes and wrap them in tinfoil in the refrigerator as an easy, filling weeknight meal. Roast cauliflower for the same effect. Keep kale in a sealed container raw until you’re ready to cook it – then sauté it in minutes.
Do you meal prep on Sundays? What are your best tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments below!