Meal prep is a great way to set yourself up for healthy eating throughout the week, and it can save you money (goodbye takeout lunch). But prepping all of your meals at once can be exhausting. That’s why I turned to the editors at Cooking Light (and our friends over at MyRecipes) to find out which pre-packaged foods they buy on a regular basis.
These 11 foods offer major convenience, and are all pretty nutritious. Stock up on these the next time you’re in the grocery store and save time the next time you’re meal prepping.
Frozen Fruits and Veggies
Frozen fruit can be enjoyed in a smoothie, in oatmeal, or over the top of yogurt. Buying them frozen saves money, and you won’t have to worry about your fruit going bad. Frozen veggies are clutch, too: Green peas and broccoli are favorites since they’re versatile (throw ‘em in soup, curry, or stir-fry) and add a boost of fiber. Plus, many frozen versions are microwaveable so they’re ready to eat in minutes.
Another honorable mention? Birds Eye Protein Blends. They’re microwaveable blends of beans, lentils, and other veggies that pack a major fiber punch. Find them in the frozen section.
DIY oatmeal jars are the easiest meal prep breakfast, ever. Simply combine oats and your favorite toppings (we like dried fruit, nuts, almond butter, and a little light brown sugar) into a mason jar. When you’re ready to eat, simply add hot water and enjoy.
It’s worth prepping a few snacks for the week, and string cheese is a good choice since part-skim mozzarella sticks have around 80 calories and 8g of protein. Just throw a string cheese and a piece of fruit or some nuts into your lunch bag to ward off midday munchies.
Haricot verts are basically just fancy French green beans, but they require no trimming and cook super fast. They’re also great in a salad, or to munch on raw as a snack.
We love beans—they’re full of plant-based protein and fiber, and make for a great meal base. And buying cans of beans saves tons of time and effort on the meal prep front. One of our favorite ways to use them is to grab a bunch of carrots and celery, and whip up some black-bean hummus.
Plain Greek Yogurt
Several of our editors say they buy Greek yogurt by the quart each week. The reason? It’s versatile. One editor said, “I like that I can either go sweet (and top it with frozen berries and granola) or savory (and top it with a fried egg, some kind of grain) for super last-minute late dinners.”
Sure, you could make a salad at home in minutes, but salad kits are so convenient (and often help us eat more veggies!) Plus, there are some really tasty flavor combos and they can be easily doled out into tupperware containers for the week.
Trader Joe’s Simply Roasted Chicken
One of our editors said, “When I can’t get to a Trader Joe’s, I’ll pick up a rotisserie chicken and shred it myself, but there’s something about TJ’s roasted chicken breast. I eat it on salads, in tacos, or even thrown into stir fry.” Since it’s already cooked, there’s literally zero prep required.
Pre-Cut Brussels Sprouts
Pre-cut Brussels sprouts are a game changer (and major time-saver!) Our editors love that they’re ready to roast, saute, or be made into slaw.
Grains like farro, rice, or quinoa can take up to 40 minutes to make from scratch. Even though microwaveable packages of grains cost a little more, they save so much time that they’re definitely worth it for meal prep. 90 seconds for quinoa? Count us in!
Microwaveable Sweet Potatoes
Again, microwaveable sweet potatoes cost a little more, but they are worth it. They come in their own microwave-safe plastic wrap and are ready in under 8 minutes. Make them a meal by stuffing them with microwaveable lentils, your favorite veggies, and a dollop of Greek yogurt, like we do in these Vegetarian Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.
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