It’s safe to say that this is a pretty stressful time for all of us. We are all probably feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the coronavirus and social distancing. Not only are we concerned about our health and the health of others, but staying in has come with it’s all share of challenges. Some of us are concerned about childcare, making sure we’re helping out kids with homeschooling, and of course, making sure everyone at home is getting fed properly. There’s been a lot of general anxiety about actually cooking nutritious meals and the grocery stores being cleaned out. It’s like, kind of a lot to take in at the moment. So while everyone obsesses over toilet paper, we are sharing our top tips on how to meal prep, save money, stay healthy, and navigate the grocery store without getting trampled on.
To start off, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends having at least a two week’s supply of food in your home during this time of social distancing. Not only will planning ahead get you through those two weeks, but it is also good for your body and your budget. Having a healthy snack on hand will lessen the temptation to grab pricier (and less healthy) options. It’s also cheaper to buy enough ingredients to make a big dish and turn that into two or three lunches, for example. Leftovers can be kept for three to four days in the refrigerator.
Make a weekly menu and write out a grocery list before heading to the store, that way you are prepared upon arrival and not panicking when you see all those empty shelves. If you’re looking at online recipes, find ones that have a serving size of four or more. By making big batches of food, you can separate them into smaller batches and freeze or refrigerate them for another day. It may take a little longer for you to actually make these meals but during the week you can just pull them out from the fridge and reheat them in less than thirty minutes.
We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and a muffin pan is one of the best meal-prep tools you can have in your kitchen. From oat muffins to chilaquiles egg cups, making a big batch of muffins is a great way to ensure that you have breakfast for the week. Keep your muffins covered in the refrigerator for up to four days (or throw them in the freezer). Looking for some muffin inspo? Check out these 19 make-ahead breakfast recipes.
Pancakes for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner
Pancakes really are something special which should be added to your meal-prep line-up. Why? Because they are super quick and easy to make ahead of time AND they will last you all week. A couple of options here: 1.) you can mix all the dry ingredients together, place them in a mason jar, and store them in the pantry. When you’re in the mood for some pancakes, just add the wet ingredients and throw them on the griddle. And 2.) make a big batch, place them in an airtight container, and keep them in the refrigerator for up to four days. When you’re ready to eat them, pull them out and pop them in the toaster. Add some protein and healthy fats by spreading on some nut butter. Try this quinoa pancakes recipe, it’s easy, tasty, and healthy.
Wash and chop…Immediately
Yes, you can sanitize your hands but you can’t sanitize your fruits and veggies. The minute you come home from the grocery store, unload your food and get to washing! We would also recommend using a sanitizing wipe to wipe down your shopping bag. Start by properly washing your hands with soap and water. Next, soak your produce in a bowl of clean, cold water with four tablespoons of baking soda. Leave them soaking for about five minutes, then rinse and pat dry. Once they are clean, go ahead and chop them up, save them in a container and place in the fridge. Voilà, healthy quarantine snacks!
Hydration is so important. Not only will it help you fight off those sugar cravings but it will also keep your mind clear and lower your stress levels. Fill a large water bottle or pitcher with mint, lemon slices, cucumber slices, whatever you want and leave it in the fridge overnight. The next day you can enjoy a nice chilled glass of flavored water and you’ll feel like you’re sippin’ at the spa. This is also a great motivator to help you stay hydrated all week.
Power Up With Protein
There are tons of tasty meal-prep recipes on the internet, but you really don’t need to get all fancy. Baked chicken or your favorite lean protein along with a variety of veggies are easy staples to have in your kitchen throughout the week. Eating enough protein throughout the day will help keep you full and you’ll be less likely to want those cookies at 3 pm. A great example would be to place two to three chicken breasts with an assortment of vegetables in a large baking dish, sprinkle in your favorite spices, add some garlic and a little oil and bake until fully cooked. Separate those chicken breasts and veggies into separate containers and you’ve got dinner for the next three days. Quinoa is another great source of protein that you can make ahead of time.
Get the Right Gear
You don’t want to have your meals ready to go and not have anything to save them in. Get your containers ready ahead of time so that you’re not rummaging through your cabinets looking for matching lids. We recommend glass over plastic, of course, but if you are going to freeze your meals then make sure you use freezer-safe containers or freezer storage bags. If you’re prepping a salad then make sure you keep the dressing separate until you are ready to eat the salad. That will ensure that the salad ingredients last longer.
Juices and Smoothies
When it comes to smoothies, we recommend filling up ziplock bags with your favorite ingredients like baby spinach leaves, kale, and a sliced banana and storing in your freezer. When you’re ready for a smoothie, all you have to do is pour out the ingredients into your blender and add a cup of almond milk, coconut milk, coconut water, or oat milk. Make sure to thoroughly rinse used ziplock bags so you can reuse them for future smoothie packs.