Food Challenge: Meal Prepping
Published: March 22, 2018
National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. So this month we are challenging our faculty, students, and staff to some food challenges.
"Go Further with Food" is the theme for 2018, so for our second challenge we asked participants to plan ahead and meal prep for the week. We asked them to start with checking what food they already had and buying only what they needed. Then they could prep all their meals for the week using reusable containers.
Our tips to our challengers were:
- Reuse ingredients for multiple meals
- Make a grocery list weekly or biweekly
- Portion out your food
- Make a menu for the week to make prepping easier
Center staff members, Samantha Kreis, Sarah Macias, and Faculty Support GA, Natalie Neumann took on the “Meal Prepping Challenge” and shared their experiences:
I use a food delivery service because I don't like shopping but enjoy cooking. Plus, it helps me try new recipes. It ends up being comparable to what I'd pay meal prepping on my own because I've found ways I can make meals last longer with some simple tricks. I can usually get at least three or four meals out of one recipe, which technically is for two.
Some tips I've learned to make my meals last longer:
- Add protein to vegetarian dishes
- Keep extra rice on hand to double the recipes
- Select the vegetarian, rice, and pasta dishes because there’s usually more food and then just add protein
I attempted to meal prep last week and though I’m still not the best at planning full meals ahead of time, last week taught me how easy it is to prep my daily snacks. I used to avoid buying uncut vegetables thinking I would never have time to prepare them each day. I tried last week to let go of that idea and found that if I am able to just cut and clean the vegetables on Sunday, and package them ready to go, they’re super easy to just toss in my lunch the next day.
I also try to eliminate waste every day! I use the reusable bento box for packing my snacks instead of using plastic Ziploc bags, and the containers I use to hold my cut vegetables are actually the boxes that some of the lunch meats from HEB come in. Once I finish the lunchmeat, I wash their containers, and use them as storage. They’re actually pretty great, and help me avoid having to purchase Tupperware.
On Sunday I did some cleaning out of my fridge and made a few servings of ratatouille. That served as my dinner Monday and Thursday. For breakfast I hard boiled some eggs and had two for breakfast on Monday. For lunch I had some butternut squash ravioli that I cooked that morning and pasta sauce, which also was my lunch Tuesday.
Another hard boiled egg served as breakfast on Tuesday and for dinner I made some herb crusted salmon with onions and zucchini, which I had prepped on Sunday when making ratatouille.
Wednesday breakfast: Cooked mushrooms and two eggs
Lunch: Trader Joes salad mix part I
Dinner: Fried rice with some leftover chicken I had in the freezer
Thursday breakfast: Farina
Lunch: Salad swap at the office!
Dinner: Ratatouille. I also made a quick soup with some roasted vegetables.
Friday breakfast: Eggs or Farina
Lunch: Trader Joe's salad mix part II
The things I had purchased for this week were the Trader Joe's salad mix, an onion and eggplant for ratatouille, a fried rice mix from Trader Joe's, and eggs, which I always buy every week.
Meal prepping is an attainable habit that could improve your healthy eating throughout the week. Our participants learned a lot about how they could go further with their food and enjoyed the challenge. We encourage anyone to take on this challenge and prep all your meals for a week!
Check out our first challenge blog here: Food Challenge: Re-Use and Store