In this weeks post I'm going to show you my weekly produce prep to help with healthier meals in a hurry.
These days everyone is in a hurry, and I'm no exception. Fast food places and boxed food promising to give you a "well balanced" meal in less than 10 minutes make food one of the easiest avenues to cut corners.
I still do this myself from time to time so no judgement here, I promise.
I want to make it as easy as possible to provide healthy snacks and meals for my family.
If there isn't a healthy food option available quickly, you'll be more likely to reach for something less healthy. Am I right?
So here's a little inside look at what I do every week in preparation for the busy week ahead.
Cheers to having more greens in our diets.
Let's jump in!
Healthy food choices are easier when the food is easily accessible. This means having it ready to eat, not having to go through the work of prepping it when you are hungry and those food cravings hit. I do this religiously every week. Not only does it make meal times faster, but it also makes for quick and easy snack time options for my husband and my children which is really important.
Fact about food waste in America
Did you know that in America alone we waste 30-40% of our food supply?
$160 billion dollars a year of food is thrown out. It's sad that we waste so much and yet there are still people going without. It's heartbreaking.
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Getting started with meal prep:
If this isn't something you do every week, the idea can seem daunting and overwhelming. But I promise, the more you do it, the easier (and faster) it will become. It will just become part of your kitchen routine. After all, us moms don't have enough to do anyway right? But in the end this will save you time. Ever have those weeknights when you are so exhausted the idea of having to make dinner (on top of everything else) seems like a drag? I have those frequently. Having a prepped salad and veggies makes dinner time less painful.
- First thing you'll want to do is make a grocery list to make your trip to the store easier and faster. I keep one on my refrigerator as well as on my phone. When I run low, or out of something I immmedietly add it to the list while its still fresh in my mind. I hate getting to the store and thinking, " I know I needed somethings else-what was it?" By the time you walk back in your front door you remember. I'll add my grocery list to the subscriber access library so you can print off a copy. Click here to grab it now.
- Grab your reusable grocery bags. I have mesh bags for all my produce. This is a great way to cut down on waste and help the environment. "I need more plastic in my life!" said no man ever. These are the ones I use. I've had them for a little over 2 years and have never had any issues. The larger cloth bags I use for all my other items I purchased at Trader Joes. If you don't have a TJ's close, here's some on Amazon that are similar in shape and size. Yes theres up front cost, but think of the long term benefits to using less plastic. You put produce in plastic bags at the store and within a week they are in the landfill.
- Once you get home, immediately put all your fruits and veggies on the counter. Fill up your sink with cold water and some veggie wash. I also add a few drops of lemon essential oil. This just adds one more element of cleaning power. Trader Joes also has a really great fruit and vegetable wash that's reasonably priced.
- Take your fruits and veggies out of the mesh produce bags and thoroughly wash them all. Once you have given them a good wash, set them on a clean, dry towel and allow them to air dry for a bit. I usually let mine sit out while I'm folding a load of laundry or attending to my other mom duties. Did you know that moisture is one of the biggest reasons that your food spoils so quickly? So allow it to air dry a bit and they will last longer.
- Now that your fruits and veggies are clean and dry, Its time for the tedious part-cutting!
Other prep before you prep:
6. So before you grab your cutting board and knife, take a minute to grab all the storage containers you'll need to store your cut produce in. Have the containers (and lids), ready to go. I use these moistures barrier cloths in the bottoms of my glass containers. Remember what I said about moisture making food spoil faster? Well, keep moisture away from you're food and it will keep twice as long. Just try it! This cuts down on waste and the need to buy more food because it went bad before you could use it.
7. I show you how to make these moisture barrier inserts here. The concept is simple. If you don't sew or don't have that innate desire to make everything yourself, you can also use washcloths or paper towels in the bottom of your glass storage containers. Personally, I prefer to use white washcloths because they can be bleached. I try not to buy paper towels. Again, doing my part to reduce waste where I can. I tend to keep a large stack of white hand towels as well as washcloths in my kitchen at all times. I use them to wipe down my counter top and table as well as to wipe off my little ones when they are done eating.
Continuing on with our prep.
8. Chop up your lettuce first and place it into your bowl. Did you know theres such a thing as a lettuce knife?! The purpose of this knife is to keep the lettuce from turning brown AFTER its been cut. The reason the lettuce edge often turns brown is because of a reaction from the steel blade of the knife. A lettuce knife is actually made of plastic. I have one and I love it! don't be fooled however, these are still sharp enough to cut your finger wide open (I know from personal experience). Ouch!
9. Slice and add all the veggies you want for your salad. Again, leave out veggies that tend to make salads spoil faster because of their moisture content (cucumbers and tomatoes are the big ones). Sometimes I like a little diced onion on my salad as well. I do keep these in a separate container as well. I have found that if you keep them in the bowl with all the other veggies, that no matter what you do, your salad will taste strongly of onions. So best to add these when you are ready to eat.
Other tips and tricks for weekly produce/meal prep:
- Try to buy the least amount of food possible in in plastic packaging. Check out the bulk items in the produce section of the grocery store. Most of the time, you can buy celery, carrots and loads of other produce by the pound! To make it even better, see what they are charging for a bag of carrots as well as how much that bag weighs. This will give you the cost per pound that they are charging. Then check out the bulk section and chances are, its cheaper too! I usually buy my lettuce un-packaged. This week (the week I photographed this blog post, I was super short on time so I bought pre-packaged. For sure more expensive and not ideal).
- If you have a garden, compost all your scraps! Scraps are also great for chickens. We have a worm composter so we will often times throw the scraps in there. Our worms really enjoy the fruits of my vegetable cleaning labor.
- Cut up ALL the vegetables you'll use for meals during the week and have them ready to sauté, roast or BBQ. Again, this will speed up meal time prep. This particular week I did eggplant, sweet potatoes and yams as well as cauliflower and asparagus.
- Keep asparagus upright in a cup with a small amount of water. You can keep them on your counter but I did find that they keep 1.5 weeks in the refrigerator if you store them this way. I clean out the water and or add some as needed.
- Use reusable produce shopping bags.
- When I'm making my salad for the week, I also grab a few bowls and make a salad for dinner that same night. When they are done and just add some protein (chicken, shrimp, hardboiled eggs) or whatever kind of protein you want depending on what type of salad you want to make.
- Cut up and prep "wet" vegetables but DO NOT add them to your salad. Put them in separate containers with a moisture barrier. Vegetables like cucumber, onion and tomatoes can actually make your salad spoil faster because of their moisture content. So add these when your ready to eat your salad.
- Cut up all your extra vegetables and have them in a container for easy snacking other meals later.
- Mushrooms. Lets talk about this delicious fungus. Did you know if you buy mushrooms with tighter caps that they will last longer? That's right, when choosing mushrooms at the grocery store, try and pick mushrooms that are firmer and that are closed on the under side of the cap (see picture below). Also, dont store mushrooms in plastic bags. They will spoil much faster.
- Want to cut up a bunch of mushrooms really quickly? Try one of these handy gadgets! Its an egg slicer but can also be used to slice mushrooms.
Finish up the salad.
10. Once you have added all the veggies you want on your salad, place another moisture barrier on the top of your salad before putting the lid on. You now have a salad to grab on the go for lunches, dinner or for snacking.
And thats all there is to make meal times easier and less stressful. Healthy food choices begin HERE!! I usually spend about 1.5 - 2 hours prepping all my veggies, salad, and salad dressing for the week ahead. You can find the recipe to our quick and easy salad dressing/ marinade here. It's also keto and Whole30 approved! Makes a great veggie marinade for sautéing or roasting veggies as well as meat.
Do you have any meal prep tips or tricks you'd love to share?
I always love hearing other people's thoughts and ideas on how to make meal prep go faster and more efficiently. If you have some tips or tricks you'd love to share that aren't listed above, I'm all ears! Enter them in the comment section below.
Check out my other food related posts:
- How to make Homemade Butter
- Salad Dressing Marinade
- The Best Sugar Cookie Recipe
- Silkened Zucchini Soup-Whole30 Soup Recipe
- Quick and Easy Breakfast Casserole
- Paleo Coffee Creamer
- THE BEST Cheese Spread Appetizer
All the recipes also have FREE printable recipe cards at the end of each post so you can print them for later. PIN THEM on PINTEREST too!!
Shop for items I use in my weekly meal prep:
- Organic reusable produce bags
- Earthwise reusable grocery shopping bags
- Vegetable wash
- Lemon essential oil
- White washcloths
- Worm Composter
- Lettuce knife
- Egg Slicer/Mushroom Slicer
- Glass Pyrex Storage Containers with lids
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