Because one of the most common frustrations I hear from women who would like to eat healthier is that they are overwhelmed with the concept of cooking weeknight meals, I wanted to share my list of 5 foods to prep for easy weeknight meals.
Too often I hear women say that they just give up and order the pizza when they walk in the door at 5:30 or 6:00 pm, and there is nothing in the refrigerator that even closely resembles a meal. I want to teach women that weeknight cooking and eating can feel much simpler and less overwhelming by just taking a little bit of time on the weekends to do some quick prep work.
I also created my Weekly Meal Planner to make it as easy as pie for you to plan out your family’s weekly meals, and to execute it. It includes the exact steps I’ve used for years to plan out my family’s healthy meals each week. You can download the planner here.
5 foods to prep for easy weeknight meals:
1. Cooked grains | These can be used in so many ways. Use cooked grains as breakfast cereal, lunch and dinner bowls, filling for tacos, etc. Quinoa and brown rice are favorites but recently I discovered farro and I love its hearty, chewy texture (it’s a great one for fall and winter). Make a big pot on the weekends and be sure to double your batch so you can use it throughout the week. FYI: my new Instant Pot is my BFF for quickly cooking perfect grains.
2. Cooked beans or lentils | You can cook beans yourself from dried, or use canned to save some time and trouble. Just be sure to rinse and drain them first if using canned. Beans are my go-to protein for bowls, tacos, and wraps. I alternate through lentils (which are very quick cooking), black beans, white beans, garbanzo beans, etc. Again, make a big batch on the weekends (Instant Pot!) or buy a few cans of beans and pre-rinse and drain them during your weekend prep work. You can store them in the refrigerator in a covered container until you’re ready to use them.
3. Roasted sweet potatoes | I put these on almost every bowl, taco, salad, or wrap. I love their sweetness (the Japanese yams are my favorites, they’re the sweetest) and they help to satisfy my sweet tooth. I bake sweet potatoes on parchment paper sheets, no oil, at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking time.
4. Salad greens and veggies (both raw and cooked) | To make any bowl or salad more interesting and delicious, you need different temperatures, textures, and flavors. Try a raw veggie or two like spinach and green onions, and a sautéed veggie or two like broccoli and peppers. Sauté or roast a big pan of veggies on the weekend (again, make extra) and keep them in the refrigerator to use throughout the week. Buy pre-chopped veggies if that’s easier for you, just know you’ll be paying a little bit extra because someone else is doing the chopping work for you.
5. Healthy condiments | Keep a variety of different condiments on hand and dress up your bowl, tacos, salads, and wraps depending on your whim for that day. I always keep hummus, salsa, hot sauce, mango chutney, tahini, tamari, nutritional yeast, fresh lemons and limes, and almond milk cream cheese on hand. No two dishes will ever have to look alike, and this way each family member also gets to dress up their dish however they would like.