By: Tanya Schmit
Hopefully by the time this article publishes at the beginning of September, we’re all “Getting Back to it!” in whatever way that means to you…whether it’s getting back to work at your office, or getting the kids back to school, or getting back to your pre-COVID weight. Eventually we all want to GET BACK TO IT!...all while preserving the added time that most of us have come to enjoy in these unprecedented times.
So in light of getting back to our busy level of efficiency all while maintaining (or re-starting) the healthy lifestyle that [should be] important to us all in our quality of life, here are some tips to meal planning, prepping, and preparing quality meals ahead of time to grab on the go:
1.Stock up on containers: There is no way around this; to pack a week’s worth of meals for out of the house, you’ll need a week’s worth of containers. Buying matching sets will help in storage, stacking, and utilizing mismatched pieces.
2.Keep it simple: Some of the best recipes for long-lasting lunches are also the most basic. Simple sandwiches, pastas, salads, are all great choices for lunch on the go.
3.Embrace repetition: Save time and sanity – Monday’s pasta salad with chicken can also be put in a tortilla for Thursday’s wrap.
4.Pack some things frozen: yogurt, applesauce, corn, peas, can go in frozen, help keep it cold and will be cold once you eat it.
5.Know the shelf life of prepared foods: As you proceed with your new efficient way of prepping lunches, take notes on your trial and error and make adjustments. For example, strawberries sliced on Saturday probably won’t make it to the end of the week – so pack them in Monday or Tuesday’s lunch.
6.Leave a few things unpacked: As much as you’re trying to prep ahead for the weeks’ worth of meals, no one enjoys a browned avocado. So keep a simple list of that morning preps to make that chosen meal a well-balanced, healthy, and tasty option!
7.Pack while you cook: Let’s be honest: packing a week’s worth of lunches (especially for more than yourself) will make a mess of your kitchen! So it’s best to utilize some of what you’ve prepped for lunches that week for dinner that night. For example, cooking chicken for dinner and using it for your chicken salad for lunches that week.
8.Take shortcuts: Use pre-pared items as long as it stays healthy. Most produce departments pre-cut vegetables and package them to buy (without preservatives); those are safe to pass on to your lunches!
9.Don’t overfill lunch boxes: Squishing food too tight can force wilting lettuce, soggy bread, etc. Using the bento style boxes helps to keep food separate since they could be in your lunchbox for a few days before eating.
10. Pack wet things separately: With your chicken salad (from #7), package it separately from the bread. Then at the office, simply put the chicken salad on your bread and voila! Same goes for salad dressings, may for sandwiches, and the like.
Starting your first Sunday prepping meals ahead will hopefully be the catalyst in your new efficient and healthy routine to help us all to Get Back to It! post-COVID. Good luck to us all!