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Make Meal Prep a Must in 2018

Prep protein, vegetables, pasta, and rice on Sunday, then mix and match for a week's worth of super-fast dinners.

With one more night of revelry before the New Year (and, chances are, one too many holiday cookies or cocktails consumed), we've all got smarter eating on our minds. And while I'm all for a post-holiday-season detox to reset your system, I think being healthy is less about a few days of good behavior and more about the food decisions we make every day. For me, the most important thing is being connected with my food. That means eating a lot of whole foods, avoiding processed foods with unrecognizable ingredients, and cooking real meals whenever possible.
As a working mom, there are plenty of nights when all I want to do is change into my sweatpants, make a big bowl of popcorn, and binge-watch the latest Netflix series. And, honestly, every once in a while, that's okay. But if the Chinese takeout restaurant knows your order by heart, or you're calling cheese, crackers, and a big glass of wine "dinner" more often than not, it might be time for a new plan of action.
The trick is to set yourself up for success so that making a meal from scratch is literally just as fast, easy, and economical as ordering in. And, yes, it requires a bit of planning ahead, but nothing too complicated, and if you tackle it on the weekend when you're not completely spent, and spending the day in the kitchen is something that feels like fun rather than work, you won't believe how much easier your life will be during the week.

The goal here is to have your basic building blocks precooked and ready to combine into "new" meals throughout the week. For protein, I'll grill a steak, whip up a roasted chicken. I'll also make big batches of pasta (almost any shape will do) and brown rice, and steam or roast a bunch of vegetables. Right now, Jade and I are super into broccoli, but cauliflower, carrots, and winter squash are all good options.
Everything gets packed into storage containers or resealable plastic bags so that I've got a refrigerator full of ingredients that are ready to mix and match into fast, easy, good-for-you meals. A stir-fryis a no-brainer (toss protein and vegetables with garlic, olive oil, soy sauce, and red chili flakes for heat) and my Steak Mac-and-Cheese Cupcakes are both more substantial and fun than the stuff in the box. My favorite, though, might be pizza di pasta. It's a trick of my mom's from when I was growing up that basically transforms second-day pasta into a "pizza"—and Jade loves it just as much as I did.


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