My Food Prep Routine

I like to food prep.

Food Prep Collage4

And take pictures of it. Duh. We know this.

Food prep. The cool way of saying: spend a bunch of time in the kitchen making food in advance. But it works. Trust. I truly believe that prepping food on the weekend plays a major part in my ability to eat healthy during the week. I started prepping my food when I was living on my own in university and began making changes to eat better. If it was ready for me and in the fridge, I was far less likely to order pizza. Healthy eating really comes down to being prepared. On the weekend, I like to prepare my pre/post workout snacks, lunches and things for quick n easy weeknight meals.

I have been working on this post for awhile – I am obviously a huge advocate for food prepping. I’ve posted about prepping in the past (here and here) but I thought it might be helpful to actually break it down. So welcome to my kitchen. Here’s what I do.

Food Prep

Obviously every week is a little different. If I am really short on time I just focus on getting veggies chopped. A little still goes a long way as it will save you time during a busy week.

 

Veggie Prep Nov 10

But, on average, I do a lot more. I aim to prepare veggies, a few protein options, a big-batch-meal and if I am feeling extra motivated some homemade snacks. Welcome to my kitchen my parent’s kitchen that I take over at the present time…

First, veggies. I love to roast some up in the oven… especially brussels sprouts and broccoli.

Brocc and brussels before

I wash and cut the broccoli into florets, peel the outer layer off the brussels sprouts and cut them in half. I drizzle melted coconut oil on the brussels (or a combo of olive oil and balsamic. I don’t put anything on the broccoli because I like them crispy – thanks to my friend J for this suggestion. Then I roast them in the oven at 400F for 30 minutes – flipping them around half-way through.

Brocc and brussels after

Then I use all my power to cut a spaghetti squash in half (or enlist mom or dad). Take out the goop and seeds, put some water in a pyrex (about 2 inches), place the spaghetti squash cut side down and pop that in the oven with the rest of the veggies but it takes longer than the brocc and brussels – about 45 minutes at 400F or until the outer skin is soft to the touch. More detailed spag squash directions here.

Spag squash

Spag squash oven

While that is all roasting, I work on something else. I have been loving sweet potato hash – but I can now spiralize sweet potatoes – eek so exciting! (Yes I bought the spiralizer yesterday!) Anyways, to make the hash puree 6 sweet potatoes in the food processor (you can even do this ahead of time) and then in a few batches sautee it on the stove in coconut oil until soft.

Sweet potato hash before

I don’t season it while cooking because I like to have options with the sweet potato throughout the week: sometimes I like it sweet (cinnamon) or sometimes I like it savory (herbs) or sometimes it’s great just sauteed in coconut oil. Here’s a great recipe for sweet potato hash. If hash isn’t your thing (LOL) then just throw the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet with your other veggies to roast or make sweet potato fries

Hash cooking

I also like to make roasted sweet potatoes. Simply pierce your sweet potatoes with a fork (I also like to rub some coconut oil on the outside), place them on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake at 400F for 30-45 minutes – depending on the size of the potatoes, just check on them (they should feel soft but not mushy). Then I wait for them to cool, peel them, and dice them into cubes for easy meals.

Chicken brocc sweet potato.jpg

One more sweet potato option: steamed sweet potatoes. Peel your sweet potatoes with a vegetable peeler and then cut into halves (or thirds) so it will fit in your pot and steamer. Put a vegetable steamer in a pot and fill with water (just until it begins to flow through the steamer). Add your sweet potato pieces and bring to a boil. Depending on the size of the sweet potato, your cooking time will vary between 15-20 minutes… just poke it with a fork!

Steamed sweet potato.jpg

Once the veggies are done, allow them to cool and then store them in air-tight containers.

Other veggies I like to prep: chopping peppers, celery, carrots, cucumber; roasting asparagus; making cauliflower rice; whatever you like! I keep my pre-cooked/chopped veggies for 5-7 days in the fridge in a sealed container.

Good? Great. Next, protein. Lately, I have been making hard boiled eggs a lot so let’s start with that. I place 6-8 eggs in a pot then add water until it just about covers the eggs. Then put it on the stove, bring to a boil. Once boiling, set a timer for 10 minutes. Then your eggs are done. Immediately run cold water over the eggs and then remove from pot, run some more cold water on them and then peel. Done. (Keep peeled eggs in sealed container in the fridge for 5 days).

Hard boiled eggs

While my eggs are cooking, I start preparing another make ahead protein option – like shredded chicken.  I usually pre-cook 4-6 chicken breasts every week. This is great to have pre-made for quick n easy lunches – throw it with the veggies I’ve cooked, add some avocado, an apple, almonds… boom, done, lunch.

Chicken prep

By this point, I usually take a break. I’ve done a lot, my parents want their kitchen back and I’m tired. Eat lunch, watch some TV, chill. If it’s Saturday, I might even stop for the day and do the rest on Sunday. When I am feeling refreshed, I get back to it.

Okay now I’m refreshed. Next up: big-batch-meals. Like salmon sweet potato cakes. This is such an easy make-ahead option. All it takes is one bowl. I’ve been doubling the recipe so it lasts longer. I like having these after a workout with some veggies and avocado or for dinner with just about anything – like a mango and avocado salad Yum!

Salmon cakes before

Salmon cakes after

This is not very labor intensive, so I prepare another big-batch-meal. I have been making a ground beef thing with green pepper, celery, onion and a can of tomatoes with some seasoning. If I actually measure things soon I will share the recipe – it’s really good over some spaghetti squash noodles.

Some other big-batch-meal ideas: baked falafel, meat saucefrittata, chicken bites, apple chicken burgers, bean & sweet potato stew (Click for recipes)

Beef prep

Beef prep1

Beef prep2

I also love making Juli’s “almost-5-ingredient-spaghetti pie”. It is delicious and great to have in the fridge for a busy week.

Okay so that’s a lot of work. I get it. If I am feeling particularly ambitious I find some time to prepare snacks.

Some snack ideas: banana chocolate chip oatmeal cups, cranberry pumpkin seed bites, almond butter biteshealthy rice squares, apricot cashew protein bites, kale chips,

If I don’t have time (or energy) to make balls/bites/bars, a handful of nuts and a few dates or other dried fruit, hard boiled eggs, avocado does the trick – or a Larabar.

Apricot cashew bite

That’s typically how it goes. Not too bad right?

As I’ve mentioned, I keep everything I prep in separate containers in the fridge – I think it stays fresher this way. Then the night before, I assemble the meals I need for the next day.

Fridge

Obviously I still need to cook throughout the week but having food made before-hand makes a world of difference if you are trying to eat real and delicious food. A lot of people ask me: don’t you get bored of eating the same thing all week? Well no. It really isn’t the same thing. By preparing the ingredients you can put together a bunch of different meals all week!

Yes it takes time. Sometimes I don’t want to do it. But I always feel better afterwards. I hope you do/will too :)

Also… every Sunday, Lindsay posts food prep inspiration from bloggers and readers. It’s awesome so go get inspired and tag with me on Twitter or Instagram so I can see all of your prepping awesomeness :)

Questions of the day…

Do you food prep? If you don’t, now you’re going to start right?! 

What strategies do you employ? 

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51 thoughts on “My Food Prep Routine

  1. You are a food prep Queen! I love this. Always so much fun to see how other people prep. I went light on food prep this week because I was exhausted but I have big plans next weekend. I need to get my kids out of the kid food rut they fell back in to. I was going to make you recipe for chicken fingers :-)

  2. Yes for food prep!! I prep my breakfasts ahead and my lunches. I usually throw a huge portion of chicken and veggies in the oven, cook eggwhite porridge, sweet potatoes and quinoa on the stove meanwhile and mix my protein shake for the next day. Dinner I cook from scratch – I still love it better when it’s superfresh. ANd now I’m going to check out that salmon cake recipe finally.

  3. I try a little to prep for the week, but with our tiny kitchen and its tiny oven, its pretty hard. And we only have one spot open on the counter space. So long story short, I think we are definitely in need of a new place with a bigger kitchen. I am pretty good at preparing the night before I have a long day, so I’m thankful for that!

  4. I always knew you did a lot of food prep, but holy smokes, this this a LOT! I think I would need to spend my entire weekend in the kitchen to do all this haha. Generally I just prep one dish like a soup or quinoa & bean salad plus a snack like granola bars or energy balls. I’ll also cut up and wash my kale if I bought some that week.

    PS. That’s exciting you got a spiralizer! I’ve only used mine once haha – I need more ideas!

  5. Amy this is really, really helpful and I hope a lot of people can benefit from this. I’m good at prepping my lunches for the week but I’ve been slacking on dinners lately for no other reason than I get lazy/sleepy/distracted. I have been eating sweet potatoes and pasta a lot lately, which is fine but sometimes I want a meal. Thanks for the reminder friend!

  6. You are such a rockstar! I don’t food prep now – but I did a little this summer! And I definitely will once I’m working again. Actually, maybe even when I start studying for the bar. When I get in hardcore study mode, I tend to forgo things like food, so any time saving will be appreciated. Once I’m working though, it will definitely be a necessity. I’m sure it will be pretty long hours – which means not a lot of time to make dinner, so having everything ready to throw together will be a must. I think the main thing that deters me from food prep is that I HATE grocery shopping, so by the time i’m done with that I don’t want to make dinner, let alone food prep, and we always go on Sunday. Maybe we should start going Saturday so I can use Sunday to prep. Hm. Thanks for letting me think out loud to myself in your comments. ;)

  7. Wow – you are a food prep master! I don’t do too much food prep – on the weekend I’ll usually roast some squash and bake something (I’ve been thinking lately that I need some banana bread…) but that’s about it. Working at home means that I can get away with making food throughout the week as required, but I know that as soon as that comes to an end I’m going to have to get better with food prep on weekends.

  8. Food prep saves me every week! I like to chop all of my veggies in advance, and cook anything that might take a long time, like butternut squash. If I have time I also like to make snacks for the week. The rest of what I prep depends on what we are eating that week. But I love everything you prep!

  9. This is soooo impressive!! I can’t imagine how awesome my life would be if I prepped all of my meals and didn’t have to cook during the week. I am way too lazy for that, though! Haha. I usually do a mini food prep on Sunday and then cook again on Tuesday. It splits things up but still allows me to lie on the couch and do nothing on Sunday for a few hours! This is a GREAT how-to guide and I agree with Erin – this is going to help a LOT of people!

  10. Awesome! I almost took a picture of my fridge yesterday – piled HIGH with Tupperware – and Instagrammed it to you. Loved your hashtag from yesterday, and Tupperware is also my boyfriend (don’t tell Kevin). Also … poke a few holes in the spaghetti squash and microwave for 3 minutes before slicing! It won’t cook, will just soften the rind enough to make it MUCH easier to slice open! Then do the same process of baking.

  11. This is amazing. You are great at food prepping I normally do some but this is outstanding !!!! I like the sweet potato hash and bean cakes. I get sick of the same lunches all the time so maybe i’ll try them out.. This is very helpful thanks for the post !!!

  12. Food prep is totally the way to go! I swear by it and makes life so much easier for throughout the week. My hubby and I make an event of it, prepping our food for the week on a Saturday afternoon with a glass of wine and some good tunes!

    Did you try nom nom’s sweet potato hash?

  13. This is awesome! I need a reminder to get my food prep game back up since I have been slacking and just whipping together leftovers for lunch. I get hungry during the day and end up buying snacks ($1 for a banana on campus is ridiculous when I can get them at the grocery store for so cheap!!) so thanks for the kick in the pants. Also, feed me all your food because it looks delicious!!

  14. This post is great, Amy. You’re a pro at food prepping.
    The things I do prep ahead of time are things like brown rice, pancakes, and protein balls. With the other things (like vegetables), I usually like making fresh. I do plan my meals for the week but I don’t prep it ahead of time. Leftovers from dinner are usually my lunches for the next day.

  15. I totally agree with you, if I didn’t food prep on the weekends, I would for sure eat less healthy throughout the week. I know I would be the one ordering pizza after getting home from work, sometimes a girl just doesn’t want to cook after a long day in the office! lolz! Food prep = 2 hours in the kitchen but 5 – 6 days of healthy eating meals! Gotta love it!

  16. This is awesome! I food prep pretty similar to you- do a little (or a lot), take a break and get back to it later on. I need to try the broccoli without oil tip! Have never tried that one before :)

  17. Food prep master! :) How do you prep your sweet potatoes for the week? (the ones in tupperware that look halfed) From the colour it looks like you might peel and boil them? They look delicious!

    1. I roast them in the oven (skin on) at 400F for about 45 minutes (until they feel soft in the middle – sometimes the larger ones take closer to an hour) and then wait for them to cool a bit and peel off the skin. Then when they are completely cool I store them in a tupperware in the fridge (I half them or quarter them so they fit better into the container) :)

      1. Great. Thank you! Mine usually end up more like mashed sweet potato by that point but perhaps I’ll try a little less oven time. Thanks for the speedy reply :) Happy food prepping

  18. I have been slack with my food prep lately, but got right back into it this weekend – I poached a chicken, which I have separated into portions, I made a huge container of soup (roast tomato and capsicum), got veggies ready – spinach, mushrooms, sweet potato, and made chicken patties (easy to take when I’m at school two nights a week). I also stewed some rhubarb and apple for dessert, and made some date protein balls for snacks. I’ve put on weight the last few months because my food prep hasn’t been up to scratch, and I’ve been eating out a lot… but I’m back on the horse! Just finished washing the pans and stacking all the containers in the fridge, climbed into bed and found this article in my Facebook feed. Feels like positive reinforcement!

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