Aah, is there anything better than a well-stocked refrigerator? Okay, maybe . . . but still, a well-stocked fridge – brimming with ready-to-eat fresh fruits and veggies, deliciously prepared proteins, clean water, nut milks, and freshly squeezed juices – is, to me, one of life’s simple pleasures.
Not only does a fridge full of healthy and delicious foods look vibrantly beautiful, but it is also incredibly practical. One of the greatest things we can do for our health is to eat a variety of fresh produce, lean proteins, and healthy fats, and in this age of convenience, having these foods on hand and ready to eat can be a game-changer!
Of course, unless you have a magical fridge fairy that comes into your home while you are sleeping and stocks your fridge for you (and if you do, please let me know where I may get one!), you probably have to do the food prep and fridge stocking yourself. But do not fear, this process does not need to be difficult, tedious, or overly time consuming! In fact, in just a few hours each week, you can have a beautifully stocked fridge that will support your healthy eating habits and overall well-being!
Step 1 – Menu plan
Menu planning is, for me, the hardest part. But it can also be the most fun part too, depending on how creative and/or hungry I’m feeling! I recommend creating a menu for 4-5 days at a time (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and even dessert), because after that, fresh, whole foods start to go bad. Pinterest is my go-to resource for menu planning, as the number of recipes and meal ideas are endless!
- Pro tip: search Pinterest for recipes that include a certain ingredient (i.e. kale recipes) or meet a certain type of diet (i.e. Paleo dinners or Whole 30 recipes).
Step 2 – Take inventory, create your list, hit the store
After you have your recipes selected and know which foods you’ll be eating for each meal, it’s time to compile your grocery list. I recommend checking your fridge and pantry for any foods/ingredients you already have, so that you don’t accidentally end up with too much of something perishable (or, on the other hand, miss a key ingredient and not be able to complete your meal prep)! Once your grocery list is compiled, it’s time to go shopping!
Step 3 – Get crafty in the kitchen
With the planning and shopping done, now it’s time to put on your favorite music, pour yourself a glass of wine or crisp sparkling water, and get to work in the kitchen! This is where the magic happens! In a couple short hours, that bag of groceries is transformed into ready-to-eat delicious whole food goodness! Depending on your purchases, you may want to . . .
- Wash and chop veggies, and portion into single serving sizes to store in the fridge
- Create a big salad with a variety of veggies, and portion into single serving sizes
- Whisk or blend together homemade salad dressing to pour on top of the salad when you are ready to eat
- Cook grains like quinoa, brown rice, or whole grain pasta
- Grill, poach, or oven bake proteins like chicken or beef
- Hard boil eggs
- Pre-portion baby greens and fruit into “smoothie packs” to be kept in the freezer
- Chop fruits like pineapple, mango, or watermelon to make them ready to eat
- Assemble casseroles in large pans to be baked during the busy week
- Portion out oatmeal, dried fruit, and nuts for a quick breakfast option
The benefit of meal prepping all of your ingredients at once is two-fold. First, you are able to prepare foods in larger quantities so that you don’t have to go through this process every single day (wouldn’t that be time consuming!); and second, you have the ability to mix and match ingredients! Perhaps you’re using chopped tomatoes for a salad, but you’re also making spaghetti – you get two separate meals with only one session of chopping tomatoes!
Menu planning and meal prepping doesn’t need to be a complicated and daunting process. In fact, it’s an opportunity to get creative, have some fun experimenting in the kitchen, and connect to the food that nourishes your body!
What do you keep stocked in your fridge? I’d love to hear from you, so let me know in the comments below!