Meal prepping can give you more time to relax and soak up the sun this summer!
During the summer, often times it can be challenging to prepare meals after a long and busy work day. Especially when the weather is so nice, you want to spend your last part of the day outside, and not inside over a hot stove. Meal prepping can help to make your summer meals easy and quick. Taking a little time to prepare ingredients at the beginning of the week will reduce your cooking and food shopping time and let you fully enjoy those warm summer nights.
There are many benefits to meal prepping besides just saving you time.
- It will save you money.
- It will help you learn portion control which may help you lose weight.
- It will simplify your grocery store lists.
- It will reduce your food waste.
- It will reduce your stress.
Saving money, saving time and helping to lose weight are three things many people don’t want to focus on while enjoying their summers. That is why meal prepping is a great way to stay on track with these without much thought or effort.
Meal prepping during the summer is especially easy and even more fun because there are so many fresh summer ingredients that you can add to your dinners. Below are some tips and recipes that we love to add to our summer meal prep breakfasts, lunches and dinners!
- Smoothies – Smoothies are a quick breakfast packed with fruits and vegetables that will help you cool off on those hot summer mornings. Prepare portioned out amounts of frozen fruit and vegetable bags and keep them in your freezer. In the morning grab a bag, throw it in the freezer with low-fat milk or milk alternative and blend.
- Overnight Oats/Parfaits – Making overnight oats, or parfaits to have in your fridge is a grab-and-go nutritious breakfast. You also can pre-cut summer fruits to easily add on top.
- Omelets – Omelets are a great way to enjoy fresh summer produce. Pick out some veggies on your grocery store trip in the beginning of the week and chop them up when you get home. This way you can throw some in a pan with some eggs and have a fast and nutritious omelet in the morning.
- Cookies – Eating cookies for breakfast is fun, easy and healthy. Prepare them on Sunday nights and add peanut butter, granola, raisins, oats, or flax and hemp seeds. You can also add fresh summer produce like berries, bananas, carrots or zucchini.
- Bowls – Making bowls for lunch is one of the easiest ways to create a filling lunch that contains all the macronutrients your body needs. To make a bowl start with a lettuce bottom, add a whole grain such as (farro, brown rice or quinoa), then add a protein (chicken, shrimp, or tofu), and finally top with more summer veggies, nuts and even a low-fat cheese. Make sure to pack your oil-based dressing on the side so your bowl doesn’t get soggy throughout the morning.
- Leftovers – A great way to make the most out of your groceries and not have food waste is to use leftovers as lunches. You can plan out the first three or two days of lunches and then use leftovers from that meal prep or from your dinners for the last days of the week.
- Packets – Cooking in foil packets is fast, easy and a great summer dinner. At the beginning of the week, make portioned out packets of veggies and proteins and save them in the fridge or freezer. For dinners during the week, take out the packets and put them in the oven or on the grill and you’ll have a perfectly portioned dinner without any stress.
- Spice It Up – Playing with different spices is a way to change up your meal prepped dinners if you feel you’re getting tired of eating the same things. If you meal prep chicken and broccoli for one more than one day, use different spices to make the dinners interesting. You can add Mexican spices such as cumin and chili powder one day and then use curry powder the next night for more of an Indian flavor.
- Grocery Store Advantages – When shopping at the grocery store for your week of prepped meals, look for already pre-portioned out proteins such as salmon. These are great to have in your fridge during the week, so you can just take out one portion and put it in the oven or on the grill. Also, sometimes stores will also sell a homemade spice rub that you can then just sprinkle on salmon, or another protein, and put in the oven for an easy dinner.
- Leftovers – As mentioned in the lunch section, using leftovers is a great end-of-the-week trick. It’s okay if you don’t feel like cooking as Thursday and Friday roll around. Instead of picking up those take-out menus, just make extra portions of your dinners in the beginning of the week and eat those when you don’t want to cook again. You can also reuse leftovers in many different ways too, such as turning chicken or steak and vegetables into a quesadilla, or a salad.
All taken from our Pinterest page!
Blueberry Overnight Oats (www.organizayourselfskinny.com)
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ of a banana, peeled and chopped
- ½ cup of blueberries, fresh or frozen
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- In a 16-ounce mason jar combine the rolled oats and chia seeds.
- Pour in the coconut milk and then place the bananas and blueberries on top of the oats.
- Place the lid on and store in the refrigerator overnight.
- Stir the oats and add in the pure maple syrup and a little extra coconut milk to loosen up the oats. Enjoy cold.
Thai Chicken Salad Bowl with Skinny Peanut Dressing (www.littlespicejar.com)
Skinny Peanut Dressing
- ¼ cup peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons EACH: low sodium soy sauce and honey
- 2-3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 chili, chopped
- 2 teaspoons EACH: minced garlic, minced ginger, and fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon oil (colorless, flavorless)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 2 carrots, chopped or shredded
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts and chopped herbs (basil and/or cilantro)
- 1 cup chopped kale
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped (greens)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped or shredded
- 1 large mango, chopped or sliced
- 1 medium-ish head of cabbage, chopped or shredded
- Dressing: combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a food processor along with 3 tablespoons of water and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust with additional water, I used a total of 4 tablespoons because I prefer thinner dressing here so it coats everything a little better!
- Salad: Combine all the ingredients for the salad in a large bowl. If meal prepping, divide the salad into containers and the dressing intocondiment containers and refrigerate. If serving immediately, dress the salad and serve.
Salmon and Summer Veggies in Foil (www.cookingclassy.com)
- 4 (5 – 6 oz.) skinless salmon fillets
- 2 small zucchinis (13 oz.) sliced into half moons
- 2 small yellow squash (13 oz.) sliced into half moons
- 2 shallots, 1 thinly sliced and 1 chopped (there are usually two in a whole shallot)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 large Roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
- 3/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 4 sheets of aluminum foil into 17-inch lengths.
- Toss zucchini, squash, sliced shallot and garlic together with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and divide among 4 sheets of foil, placing veggies in center of foil.
- Brush salmon fillets with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil, season bottom side with salt and pepper then place one fillet over each layer of veggies on foil. Drizzle lemon juice over salmon and season top with salt and pepper.
- Toss together tomatoes, remaining diced shallot, thyme, oregano and marjoram with remaining 1 1/2 tsp olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide tomato mixture over salmon fillets. Wrap sides of foil inward then fold up ends to seal. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in preheated oven until salmon has cooked through, about 25 – 30 minutes (cook time may vary based on thickness of salmon fillets). Carefully open foil packets and serve warm.
Sarah Domino, Penn State Intern