An Argument Against Meal Prep

Flip open Instagram and you’ll find pages of the most beautiful meal prep you could imagine. Green smoothies, halloumi cheese salads and black bean burgers. All perfectly prepared in reusable containers for the work week.

A dream world where you ensure you eat healthy every day of the week. 

I truly admire the effort that goes into this extensive meal preparation (maybe with a hint of jealously), but a few questions usually come to mind:

  1. Does that salad ACTUALLY still taste fresh on Day 3?
  2. Don’t you get bored when you have the same meals three days in a row?
  3. What happens when your co-workers ask you to check out the new Mexican restaurant after work, but you have you have that black bean burger in the fridge at home?
  4. And most importantly, what about Sunday Funday?

Now, don’t get me wrong. Filling your fridge and pantry with healthy, whole foods is critical in making sure you are putting the right nutrients into your body.

But my argument is this: If we strive to complete this extensive meal preparation in a world that has too many unknowns, is actually attainable for most people? I am the perfect candidate to being able to achieve this: no children, partner who also enjoys cooking and able to afford healthy fresh foods. Yet, I still can’t seem to get it done every week. Sure, I could leave the cottage on Sunday morning a few hours early, or skip out on the afternoon Bocce in the park… Yeah, no thanks.

So I say, drop the dream of completing this crazy meal prep. Enjoy your weekends and evenings. Learn to throw together healthy meals in a hot minute or actually take the time to cook some nights of the week with your friends & family (take leftovers for lunch).

Then, if you do happen to have the time to do a huge meal prep, take advantage! I can guarantee you will eat healthier. On a smaller scale, use that time to make some bulk recipes that might last you the week, such as homemade granola, soups, muffins or banana bread. If you are away for a weekend, you can always stock the fridge/pantry before you head out to make sure a full fridge exists when you get back.

So since I just bashed your meal preparation dream, I will leave you with some recommendations of foods to always have around (that don’t spoil quickly!) to help you make quick healthy meals.

Top Things to Keep in Your Kitchen

Well Stocked Fridge: frozen vegetables, frozen fruit, frozen banana, frozen bag of bread, frozen meat, yogurt, milk, vegetables you enjoy eating raw, eggs, cheese, hummus, mayonnaise, salsa

Well Stocked Pantry: canned beans, oatmeal, your favourite grain, nuts & seeds, peanut butter, whole grain crackers, olive oil, balsamic or red wine vinegar, canned tuna/salmon, potatoes, tomato sauce

How to Use These Ingredients in Healthy Meals

Quick Breakfasts: smoothies, overnight oats, parfait, peanut butter toast w/ bread & fruit, omelette w/ cheese and frozen vegetables, refried beans on toast

Quick Lunches: above omelette, cheese & crackers or two hard boiled eggs with a side of vegetables & hummus, bean pasta salad with oil & vinegar dressing

Quick Dinners: Tuna melt, salmon melt, salmon cakes, bean pasta with frozen vegetables, meat w/ friend potato & vegetable hash, fried eggs over a bed of vegetables & beans with salsa


Homemade pizza sauce

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Pizza. A staple in most people’s lives. From birthday parties, family parties and post bar munchies, it undoubtedly exists in all of our diets. The beauty of pizza is it’s ability to become a healthy meal by loading on the veggies and skipping the processed toppings. This recipe is a quick way to make homemade pizza sauce with fresh ingredients. Freeze the batch in small containers for healthy pizza sauce in a pinch.

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Recipe

Type: Good for the Body

Time: 20 minutes
Serves: Makes approximately 2 cups.
Use about 1/2 cup for an 8″ pizza.

Ingredients

1 28 oz can of plum tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
10 fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp tomato paste
drizzle of olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Open and drain half the juice from the can of tomatoes and pour tomatoes into food processor or blender.
  2. Roughly chop basil and garlic. Add with remaining ingredients to tomato mixture.
  3. Blend on high until mixture is smooth.

 

– Magical Properties –

Basil, and many other herbs, claim to fame is something known as phytochemicals or phytonutrients. These are naturally occurring chemicals found in many plants, fruits and vegetables that are thought to have a protective effect on the body. Specifically, basil contains flavonoids which may be beneficial in protecting against inflammation and viral infections. Try and include fresh or dried herbs in all aspects of cooking for a nutritious kick.

Additional notes: Skip the supplements, and aim to include daily in your meals instead. Oh, and chemicals isn’t necessarily a bad word in the nutrition realm.

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The essentials

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Let’s start with the basics – a stocked kitchen and the right tools. These fundamental elements can be crucial for an enjoyable time in the kitchen. Why? It allows you to bring a variety of flavour and texture, while keeping stress to a minimum.  I have created a handy chart, from my own experience, highlighting the key ingredients and gear to keep on hand.

Side note: Kitchen equipment isn’t cheap (I am still dreaming of the day I will own a KitchenAid Mixer). I have had great success from checking out local second hand shops and my Grandma/Mom’s basement. My ceramic cook ware, dutch oven, hand mixer, some knives, glass pan and many cooking utensils are second hand.

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Kitchen Witch Essentials

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Yes, I know, it’s a lot. So start slowly building and you won’t be disappointed in the end.