Eating healthy can seem over-whelming, costly and laborious at times. But it doesn’t have to be. With a bit of planning and a little Sunday prep, you can save considerable amounts of cash while simultaneously improving health. By ensuring that you and your loved ones have routine meals and healthy snacks available, you’ll boost energy and focus, as well as stabilize moods and blood sugar levels throughout your day.
A fridge full of healthy prepared vegetables, grains and good quality protein helps to make nutrient-dense and fiber-rich foods the default in your home, minimizing impulsive, unhealthy snacking and ordering takeout when too hungry and tired to cook. Having these healthy ingredients on hand and ready to use also prevents chronic breakfast- and lunch-skipping, which can slow metabolism and leave you feeling sluggish the rest of the day.
To prepare a few staples for the week ahead, it’s best to select one day a week, like a Sunday, when you and your family are free for a couple of hours. By getting everyone in the household involved, they’ll feel more invested in the foods they’re eating and therefore will be more likely to eat the healthy meals and snacks provided. Not to mention that many hands make for light work! Clear your counter and follow these easy foolproof recipes this weekend and prepare yourself for a healthy, organized week ahead!
See also Cook Once and Eat Clean All Week.
1. Soak & Cook Beans
Soak beans overnight. Drain, rinse well and boil with fresh water until soft throughout. Use cooked beans as is, or use onion, garlic and spices to add layers of flavor as we did with our spiced refried bean recipe below. Use it as a delicious base for protein-packed burritos, taco salads, grain bowls, dips and sloppy Joes.
Get the Spiced Refried Beans recipe
2. Wash & Chop Veggies
Prep and cook your raw veggies so they're ready to use for snacks, stir-fries, salads, sandwiches and wraps.
3. Prep & Store Leafy Greens
Prep kale, swiss chard, collard greens or spinach for easy use in smoothies, salads, soups and sandwiches. They'll stay crisp and green longer, too. Thoroughly wash about 3 bunches of greens by filling a clean sink with cold water. Immerse greens in water. Agitate to loosen any dirt. Allow dirt to settle on the bottom of the sink before removing greens, about 5 minutes. If greens are still dirty (for example, if they feel gritty when you rub them between your fingers), repeat the above until they are completely clean. Dry using a salad spinner or towel. If using for salads or sandwiches, remove stems and tear leaves into bite-size pieces.
If using for smoothies, leave stems on and tear leaves into larger pieces. If using to make wraps, remove ends and store whole. Place in airtight containers, cover with a damp towel, seal container and refrigerate. This will keep your greens crisp for days longer than if you simply place them in the fridge following purchase.
See also 3 Ways with Chard and Kale
4. Make Smoothie Packs
Freezing 5 to 10 premeasured smoothie ingredients in individual freezer bags makes for easy breakfasts or speedy snacks.
Get the Green Monkey Smoothie recipe
5. Make a Batch of Granola
Make your own granola to serve with fresh fruit and your favorite yogurt for a quick breakfast.
Get the Apricot Cobbler Granola recipe
6. Precook Grains
Precook 5 cups of grains like millet, barley, bulgur, quinoa, wild rice, teff, or wheat berries. Add to salads, stuff into wraps or refry to go with stir-fries or curries to boost fiber intake.
STORE IT RIGHT: Once cooked, let grains cool. Transfer to zip-top bags. Refrigerate and use within 4 days. Alternatively, freeze them for use within 4 months. (To prevent grains from sticking together, place bags on their sides on baking sheets, ensuring grains are evenly spread out. Place in freezer. Once grains are frozen, about 3 hours, remove baking sheets and store grains in freezer normally.)
Don't stop here – use your Sunday yield to dream up more snack and meal ideas!