Table of healthy food

How to Prepare Healthy Food Each Week

June 25, 2015

More often than not, our excuse for not eating right is that we don’t have enough time. We tend to focus so much on work and daily duties that we often skip preparing food and cooking at home.

Fast food doesn’t have to be unhealthy — especially if you make your own by having the right foods ready and available, and by keeping your house stocked with the basics.

If you do, you can eat healthy food when you need it.

How to start. First, pick a time during the week or weekend when you can set aside a few hours to grocery shop and prepare food – clean, portion out and store – to last the week, or, at the very least, for a few days.

What to prepare. Here are some basics to get you started prepping healthy food for the week. These can save you a lot of stress and time in the long run. These are sorted by food types, so you can pick and choose from each as you build your meals. Protein

  • Hard-boil a dozen eggs for easy snacking, to add to salads or for a quick breakfast.
  • Bake egg casseroles by scrambling eggs and adding your choice of vegetables and perhaps a little cheese or an additional protein to avoid the rush of making breakfast. Use a muffin tin or other portioned pan to make it easy to grab during the week.
  • Bake or grill several chicken breasts and keep them in the fridge for easy reheating.
  • Make tuna, chicken or egg salad for the week ahead. Add chopped vegetables and use Greek yogurt rather than mayonnaise.
  • Buy a rotisserie chicken to serve for a quick dinner and to add to salad, use in sandwiches or as meat in another dish.
  • Keep nuts around. I keep a measuring cup handy to control the portions, though, because it is easy to get carried away!
  • Make yogurt parfaits with your favorite unflavored Greek yogurt and sweeten it by adding your own fresh fruit.

Fruits & Vegetables

  • The most daunting thing about fresh produce is knowing you have to clean and cut them up in order to eat them. After you buy fresh vegetables, don’t let them mold in the crisper. Cut them up right away and make them easy to use.
  • Chop different sizes for snacking and cooking and put them in their own containers.
  • Sautee vegetables such as peppers, onions, and mushrooms for quick add-ins to main dishes, grains or other vegetables.
  • Stock your freezer with frozen produce options that contain no added fat or salt. You’ll always have a quick side dish ready to go.

Grains

  • Cook oats ahead of time in one batch. Portion them out into individual storage containers so you can take one in the morning. Have nuts, fruit, cinnamon and other favorites ready for topping off your oats.
  • Cook quinoa, couscous or brown rice ahead in a large batch. Portion it out into individual servings that you can then easily reheat for your lunch or dinner.

While it may seem like a lot of work, in the long run you will save yourself a lot of time and benefit your overall health. Knowing that you have a fridge full of great food will help keep you from being tempted to order a drive-through or delivered meal.

– Loyola Medicine's registered dietitians