Meal prep is touted as one of the best ways to help us cook healthier meals more often, but there are more tactics leading up to the meal-prep stage that can help, too. Fortunately, even on busy weeknights, supermarket shortcuts can trim the time required to put a nutritious meal on the table. Set yourself up for meal-prep success with these four foolproof shortcuts.
Save an extra step in meal prep by choosing from an abundant pre-cooked options in the deli or produce sections at the supermarket.
Roll it into savory enchiladas, combine with roasted veggies and quinoa in a grain bowl or add to salads. The only limit to this high-protein addition is your imagination.
QUINOA AND BROWN RICE
Found fully precooked in the freezer section, these grains go from package to table in less than 5 minutes in the microwave. Just add your favorite combo of veggies and protein and you’ve got a balanced meal.
No need to watch a pot simmer when you pick up these legumes in the refrigerated section. Add to salads, soups or warm in the microwave.
Steamed, peeled and packaged for ease of use, these are a super time saver. Grab from the refrigerated section and pair with toasted walnuts and crumbled goat cheese.
Save time washing, peeling and cutting vegetables by choosing from a variety of options in the produce section.
PRESLICED MUSHROOMS, BELL PEPPERS, ONIONS
These items only need quick cooking on the stove to become an easy addition to anything from stir-fries and omelets to hearty meatball hoagies.
BAGGED BROCCOLI OR CAULIFLOWER FLORETS
Steam in the microwave or coat lightly with olive oil and roast on a baking sheet at 425°F until tender and lightly browned, about 10–20 minutes.
If cabbage isn’t your thing, try the broccoli version. Either variety comes in handy for a healthy saute or a crunchy side dish when tossed with creamy dressing.
Experiment with these convenient “salads in a bag” where everything you need is packaged together, including greens, vinaigrette and tasty extras like dried cranberries.
BAGGED HARICOT VERTS
Smaller and more tender than regular green beans, these can be cooked quickly in the microwave and work great as a standalone side or an addition to soup or salad.
READ MORE > 12 BATCH-COOKED MEALS UNDER 350 CALORIES
Stock your freezer with a variety of flash-frozen healthy items that are ready to go in a matter of minutes.
Peas and corn are great, but don’t forget about frozen butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Brown them on the stovetop or steam and puree with hot broth to make a filling, low-calorie soup.
From freezer to plate in a matter of minutes, use this standby, whether turkey or vegetarian version, in savory hash with potatoes and sautéed spinach or atop a baguette sandwich stuffed with scrambled eggs and tomatoes.
Protein-packed and versatile, edamame can be dressed with sesame vinaigrette, tossed into soup or stir-fry, blended into a pesto-style dip or added to a whole-grain pasta dish with garlic, parsley and parmesan.
Add a burst of flavor without a whole lot of extra calories by relying on healthy dips, sides, and other condiments.
Pressed, marinated and baked tofu squares come in flavors from teriyaki to Thai spice. Found in the refrigerator section, they’re a savory addition to sandwiches, salads and stir-fries.
Boxed chicken or vegetable broth is a pantry staple that makes it simple to whip up your favorite soup, from chicken noodle to minestrone.
Healthy dips such as guacamole, hummus (which these days comes in half a dozen flavors) or tzatziki are widely available and help quickly round out any meal.
A little goes a long way: Rolled into a Greek-style wrap or tossed into salads, omelets or grain bowls, pre-prepped cheese adds flavor while saving key minutes when time is short; shredded parmesan is equally handy.