Food Tips

Genius Meal Planning Ideas for a Healthy Week

Healthy eating is possible—even for the time-crunched and cash-strapped. It just takes a little creativity! That’s what Sean Peters, founder of the new website MyBodyMyKitchen.com, discovered when he first started to experiment with batch cooking, a way of cooking food in bulk and storing some for later. Peters had been working out for years, but knew that he had to change his diet if he really wanted to see results.

About a year and a half ago, he switched his eating habits and began posting photos of a week’s worth of lunches and dinners (two recipes cooked in 5 portions each) to his Instagram account. His tasty, affordable recipes began receiving attention from others trying to eat healthy, so he launched his website and a newInstagram account dedicated to meal prep last month. We tapped Peters for his top tips on getting started with meal prepping and batch cooking, plus the 4 recipes you’ll need to create a week of (delicious!) dinners.

Start Small

Getting into a new routine of prepping all your meals ahead can take time to take some getting used to. Peters suggests starting with a few days’ worth of meals at a time, then slowly building up to making a whole week of meals in one session. “If you try to do a week all at once in the beginning, you will get discouraged and it will be messy,” he warns. Planning ahead also helps to make meal prep a sustainable healthy habit.

Break It Up

To stave off boredom, freeze one or two meals each time you make a new recipe so you can swap in something different throughout the week. If you’re freezing, cook foods that have a low water content. You can also add different sauces to a meal to change the flavor, or plan to eat out one night that week to give your taste buds a refresh.

Enlist a Buddy

Grab a friend or spouse to cook with you. Not only will the process go faster, but you’ll be more likely to go outside your comfort zone with recipes, since you’ll have two palettes to please. You might even think of a new meal idea together and can brainstorm ways to create a healthier version of a favorite dish.

Peters shared the recipes to create one of his most popular (and freezer-friendly!) meals, a Southwestern-style feast. True to his food philosophy, this healthy meal contains protein, a complex carb, and a vegetable—and it’s packed with flavor. “I try to use as few processed foods as possible, but my food is never bland. A lot of people think meal prepping has to be basic—there is no color or flavor. But I want my rice to have stuff in it, without having to rely on salt,” says Peters.

GREEN, RED, AND YELLOW RICE

Ingredients:
1 cup brown rice
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 cup frozen corn
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Bring water to a boil, and then add rice. When water begins to boil again, reduce heat to a simmer and cover.
2. Cook covered for 40-50 minutes until rice is tender; stir once after about 20 minutes.
3. While rice is cooking, prepare vegetables; heat oil in skillet over low heat.
4. Sauteed garlic for about 4 minutes until flagrant; be careful not to burn the garlic.
5. Increase heat to medium-high, add remaining vegetables and corn and cook for about 2 minutes.

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 50 minutes | Yield: Serves 5

SAUTÉED TURKEY WITH TOMATOES AND CILANTRO

Ingredients:
1/2 tablespoon oil or coconut oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup chopped yellow or red onion
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1-2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno
2 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound lean ground turkey
1/4 cup cilantro
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Directions:
1. Heat skillet over low heat; add oil and sauté garlic until flagrant, about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add onions, tomatoes, jalapeno, thyme and pepper flakes; increase heat to medium-high and sauté vegetables, about 4 minutes.
3. Add ground turkey and cook until turkey is fully cooked and brown, about 10 minutes; stir frequently and continuously break large chunks of turkey into smaller pieces.
4. Stir in cilantro; add salt and pepper to taste.

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 15 minutes | Yield: Serves 5

STEAMED BROCCOLI MBMK STYLE

Ingredients:
3 bunches broccoli
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Discard stem or cut into thick slices; cut broccoli into florets.
2. Bring water to boil; add broccoli to steamer and place steamer over boiling water.
3. Steam broccoli for no more than 4 minutes; remove from heat and immediately run cold water over broccoli to stop it from cooking any further.
4. Toss cooled broccoli in the remaining ingredients; add salt and pepper to taste.

Prep: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 4 minutes | Yield: 10 servings

SIMPLY TASTY BLACK BEANS

Ingredients:
2 cups dried black beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 cups diced tomatoes
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
salt & pepper to taste

Directions
1. Soak beans overnight (or for at least 6 hours) in 6-8 cups of water.
2. After soaking, drain water and rinse beans; heat large pot on medium heat.
3. Add oil and sauté chopped onion, celery and garlic for 2 minutes; add tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
4. Add rinsed black beans, thyme, cayenne pepper, cumin and cinnamon to sautéed vegetables.
5. Add water and honey, increase heat and let simmer covered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours; stirring occasionally.
6. Add more hot water if necessary; add salt and pepper to taste.

Prep: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 35-120 minutes | Yield: 8 servings

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