Taking an hour or two to prep ingredients for the week can help you successfully enjoy easy, healthy meals—even on busy weeknights. Here's how to maximize your time to create an assortment of foods you can pick and choose from to assemble tasty meals and snacks instead of having to cook from scratch every time. Here what you need to do: *Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
*Prep your veggies. You can make whatever you like. Chop broccoli or cauliflower into small florets, peel and cube beets or squash, trim and wash mushrooms. Toss everything with olive oil and salt & pepper. You can also line a baking sheet with foil and spritz with olive oil and lay down rounds of eggplant or zucchini. Peppers can be washed and placed whole in a pan.
*Roast until veggies begin to caramelize, shaking the pan or turning over a few times to prevent burning and sticking.
*While the veggies cook, you can marinate meat or tofu and then put that in the oven once the veggies come out. Bake until cooked through.
*A slow cooker is also your best friend for making large batches of protein. For example, you can put a few chicken breasts in there with your favorite sauce or even just some water and spices and cook on low for 4-5 hours, after which you can shred the meat and use for salads, sandwiches, pasta, stir-fry dishes, and more.
*Meanwhile, on top of the stove, you can make a big batch of beans or lentils and your favorite grain, such as quinoa, brown rice, or millet.
*This would also be a great time to make a batch of hard-boiled eggs. Prepare a cold water bath and set aside in the fridge. In a large pot, place eggs in water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and cover. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Remove eggs from the hot water with a slotted spoon and transfer to the cold water bath. Cool for 15 minutes and then remove eggs and dry off. Store in the fridge for up to a week.
*Homemade hummus is another no-brainer that takes just minutes to prepare. Place cooked beans, peas, or lentils in a blender or food processor with tahini, olive oil, and any spices you like. You can also experiment with adding in cooked veggies like roasted pepper or beets. Puree until smooth, thinning out with a tiny bit of water if needed as you go.
*Display foods in clear storage containers so you can easily find what you need.