Meal Prep Tips for 2023

Plus a delicious hearty soup recipe to keep you warm this winter!

The new year is a great time to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of our regular schedules, reevaluate our routines, and identify areas in our lives in which we can improve. New Year’s resolutions are often met with disappointment come February due to setting unattainable goals without a plan of action. When making goals focusing on health and nutrition, the goals should be sustainable and realistic. Rather than making a general resolution of “I want to eat healthier” or “I want to eliminate ‘junk’ foods,” let's shift our mindset to establish goals like, “I will make half of the grains I eat each day, whole grains,” or “I will include vegetables in two of my meals each day.” These types of goals, known as S.M.A.R.T. goals, are proven to be more successful because they are Specific, Measurable, comparatively more Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. 

Once a goal is set, a plan of action is required to implement the routine into everyday life. A great way to set up for success with nutrition-related goals is by proper planning and preparation. Planning and preparation of meals start even before going to the grocery store. Some questions that are helpful to ask when planning meals for the week include; when will I eat this meal, where will I eat this meal, how long does this meal take to prepare/when will I prepare it, and what ingredients do I need? 

Getting into a routine of asking these questions each week can help to achieve nutrition-related goals. It can be beneficial to set aside one day to plan your menu for the week.

Meal prepping can be a useful tool to limit the amount of time it takes to cook a meal; and despite popular belief, it can, and should, be more exciting than just rice, chicken and broccoli for every meal. Meal prepping can provide a way to get variations of nutritious foods into your weekly meals. Here are some helpful tips when looking to start a routine with meal prepping:

• Diversify your diet. Try not to just make one meal for the whole week, mix it up with different vegetables, protein sources, and types of grains!

• Convenience items such as bagged lettuce, pre-cut vegetables, and certain frozen food items can be just as nutritious! Bonus tip: for frozen food items, look for the percent daily value of sodium on the nutrition label – if it is 5% or below, you’re good to go! Frozen vegetables often contain more nutrients than their fresh counterparts when they are no longer in season.  

• While cooking a meal, plan to make extra for a future day in the week! For example, if you are celebrating Taco Tuesday go ahead and make extras of your flavorful protein, seasoned vegetables, and rice to create a taco salad for lunch the next day. This way you are cooking while you have time available without creating extra work. This reconstruction makes leftovers more exciting and appealing.

• Separate and store ingredients based on their makeup. i.e. vegetables, proteins, grains, and sauces/dressings

• Remember what comprises a balanced meal. A quarter of the plate of lean protein, a quarter of the plate of a grain (bonus points for a whole grain!), and half of the plate to be fruits and/or vegetables

We're also sharing a perfect Winter recipe for you to enjoy all season long!

Escarole and Bean Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic

Salt and Pepper

2 large leaks (thinly sliced)

2 small heads fresh escarole (chopped)

15oz can navy beans (keep liquid) 

4 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth or bullion 

1 pound of whole grain pasta (orecchiette, rotini, penne etc.) 

Freshly grated parmesan (for serving)

In large pot on medium low heat combine the olive oil and garlic, salt and pepper (to taste)

Add leaks, sauté until semi-translucent. Add the vegetable stock and simmer. Add escarole and white beans.  Cook until escarole is wilted and beans are heated through (about 5-8 minutes). Cook pasta separately and drain. Add pasta to individual bowls, add the escarole and bean soup.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan on top, freeze up to three months.

Fruits and Vegetables in Season in January:

apples, avocado, bananas, beets, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, citrus, celery, collard greens, garlic, kale, kiwi, leeks, mango, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, pears, pomegranate, potatoes, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, winter squash

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