Whether cooking for one or a whole family, overnight meal prep is a great way to stay organized and well-fed the following day. A small amount of effort yields a whole week of menu helpers, all that’s needed for successful meal prep is some preliminary organization and some extra space in your fridge.
Overnight oats are a lifesaver on rushed mornings: they’re simple to make the night before as well as incredibly filling. Uncooked rolled oats are combined with milk, Greek yogourt and oatmeal add-ins such as chia seeds, ground flax seeds, and fresh or dried fruit, and maple syrup before being left to sit overnight. The next morning the oats will have absorbed the liquid and become soft and can be eaten cold or warmed up.
A batch of baked eggs in muffin tins can be made at the beginning of the week and reheated all week long for breakfast or lunch. Preheat the oven to 350°F and whisk together a dozen eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in a handful or two of toppings such as cooked ground meat or sausage, spinach, sautéed sweet peppers and onions, or crumbled bacon and grated cheese. Carefully pour the egg mixture into a muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes or until the eggs are set. Reheat in the microwave and serve with a piece of fruit for a delicious and easy start to the day.
Yogourt parfaits can be made in containers or jars the night before for a filling and nutritious breakfast option on the go. Layer yogourt with fresh fruit, a store bought or homemade fruit compote, muesli, granola, puffed rice cereal, dark chocolate chips or shredded coconut. Yogourt parfaits can be made up to a few days in advance, just be wary of using fruit that is too watery.
Freeze batches of grain
Make a big batch of cooked grains and freeze individual portions for filling and healthy meals all week long. Grains such as quinoa, barley, bulgur, brown rice, and wheat berries all freeze well and can be defrosted quickly or added directly to soups and stews. Prepare the grain as usual, spread in a single layer on a lined baking sheet and allow to fully cool before transferring to a resealable bag or container and freezing.
Green smoothie packs
Portioning out green smoothie ingredients into resealable bags and popping them in the freezer is all that stands between you and an almost-instant meal that can be grabbed on the go. Fill each bag with green smoothie essentials such as spinach, kale, banana slices, berries, and any other favourites before popping them in the freezer. Add milk, coconut water or non-dairy milk before blending, and the smoothie is ready to go.
Next time roasted chicken is on the menu for dinner cook two birds instead of one. The extra chicken can be shredded and used in recipes for the whole family all week. Add leftover chicken to salad, grain bowls, curries, sandwiches, omelettes, and pasta dishes. If the chicken won’t be eaten within a few days, it can easily be frozen in resealable bags for up to 3 months.
Fruit salads are a snap to prep ahead of time and will easily last a few days in the fridge. The trick is choosing fruit that is sturdy, not prone to turning brown or losing its texture after a short amount of time. Fruit such as melon, pineapple, blueberries, kiwi, pitted cherries, mangoes, and grapes are all sturdy bases for make-ahead fruit salad. Fragile fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, bananas, apples and fresh figs should be prepared and added to the salad right before serving. If desired, toss the salad with a light dressing made of equal parts lime or orange juice with honey.