Eating quick go-to unhealthy food may fill you in the short term, but it’s not enough to have you feeling your best. When you’re feeling more tired and sluggish the motivation isn’t there to put together a full meal.
I’ve been in your shoes and completely understand the struggle.
You may have heard of meal prep and for a split second, it sounds amazing. You have a series of meals ready for you to eat. All you need to do is heat your dinner, no decisions or searching for something to eat at the moment.
And then you realize you don’t want to spend your limited non-working time cooking or cleaning to actually do the “prep” part of meal prep. There has to be an easier way.
The simple, no cook meal prep hack
Frozen dinners seem like a decent alternative, especially in the short term. They’re portion-controlled and have the heat-and-eat convenience to solve your dinner problem.
For as much as I wanted frozen dinners to work, I quickly realized the tiny nub of chicken in the meal wasn’t going to cut in the long term. I needed something better balanced with a higher protein content.
Instead of buying frozen meals, check out the pre-cooked food at your local grocery store. Whole Foods, for example, prepares different types of dishes so you can simply assemble your own ready-to-eat meal kits. Or scoop onto a plate and heat when dinner comes.
No more excuses for not eating dinner.
Tips for choosing food from the deli counter
After several months of using the deli counter to help me with dinner, here are a few tips I picked up.
Check out what is available at the deli counter of our local supermarket.
You should be able to find simple proteins such as grilled chicken and a few side dishes to assemble a full dinner. Even if you can only buy part of your meal, you will still have a head start on dinner.
Whole Foods dishes usually stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 4 days. Make sure you double-check the labels to ensure you’re not eating anything expired.
You should be able to grocery shop on a Sunday and have enough food for meals through Thursday night.
To have variety in your meals buy smaller portions of multiple dishes so you can mix and match during the week.
And then on Friday take a break and pick up takeout for a change.
Mix in easy to cook or frozen vegetables to balance out the meal
Depending on the week, you may not like all the options available for side dishes. Balance out the meal using either frozen vegetables or quick-cooking options from the produce section.
You’re aiming for healthy convenience so you can continue to keep up with your busy schedule.
At the end of a long day, a heavy dinner right before bed may not be the best choice anyway. In a busy season, aim for simple foods rather than complex gourmet meals.
Transfer your purchases to glass containers
To help keep your meals fresher for longer in the refrigerator consider transferring your food to glass containers. This also allows you to discard any containers so you have less clean up during the week.
You could also use divided glass containers if you want to portion out your meals in advance to help speed up heating dinner.
If you prefer to scoop-and-eat, make sure you only heat what you’re planning to eat. Don’t reheat the entire container for each dinner. That could create a food bug nightmare!
You may spend a little more money than cooking from scratch
Depending on what you’re buying, prepared foods will cost you more money than making it yourself. You’ll need to figure out what’s more important, especially in the short term.
If you’d like to save money, try batch cooking to freeze to eat later. There are great shortcuts to help you when you’re ready to start cooking again.
In the meantime consider starting off with the no cook option while you build a plan to start making your own food to save money.
Don’t forget to watch the salt content
One word of caution with using prepared foods for dinner. The salt content is usually much higher than if you made the dishes yourself.
If you want to reduce the salt you’re eating, consider buying some of the meal pre-cooked and using fresh or frozen produce for a simple side dish.
Wrapping up. Are you using another no cook meal prep hack for dinner?
You can’t put yourself back on a wellness path without eating well. It’s easy to make excuses for why you’re not eating dinner. Trust me, I did that.
With a simple no cook meal prep hack, you can cut through the excuses by taking some help with making balanced dinners. Check out your supermarket’s deli counter and produce sections to plan out quick meals.
What other shortcuts do you have to keep you eating healthy during the week?
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