Jan. 29. 2018
McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder and CEO

Bored or uninspired with your meal prep? These meal prep upgrades offer variety, more nutrients, and added interest to your plate.

I get it. It can be easy to become bored or uninspired with healthy eating when you’re making the same thing over and over, week after week. If you’re reading this, you’re probably hoping to get — and stay —jazzed about your meal prep routine. You’re not alone!

The good news? You typically eat 3 meals a day, and you can find infinite options for what to eat for each of those meals. Even if you eat a whole foods diet, you still have tons of options to choose from. The goal of today’s post is to share simple tips and upgrades to keep meal prep fun, exciting and nourishing.

About 10 years ago, I came up with a plan and I changed my perspective on how to make healthy eating fun, flexible and balanced in a simple enough way that anyone could “get it.” The keyword being simple; I wanted to use a simple approach in order to lessen decision fatigue and take out the guesswork that would eventually lead to feeling overwhelmed or stressed, or causing poor food choices, emotional eating and missing out on nutrients.

No. 1 — Befriend Your Spice Cabinet

Spices are incredible upgrades that not only add flavor but also additional health benefits to simply prepared ingredients. If you find yourself steaming or roasting vegetables but falling into a rut, consider adding spices like high-quality sea salt, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, garlic, red chili flakes, and turmeric to give the veggies a nice boost.

No. 2 — Sprinkle In Superfoods

You don’t have to use “superfoods” to eat healthy. In fact, I wrote a post recently about simplicity over superfoods. However, if you do find yourself hitting a wall with your current mix, try adding these nutrient-dense foods to pack a punch in a small volume. Things like maca, hemp hearts, bee pollen, goji berries, cacao nibs, and medicinal mushrooms could be just what your meals are missing.

No. 3 — Have Fun With “Toppers”

“Toppers” are probably my favorite way to keep things exciting with meal prep. “Toppers” can include fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade sauces and dressings, or maybe just some fresh herbs or nuts and seeds. 

Some of my go-to “toppers” include sliced avocado, coconut aminos, marinara sauce, unsweetened almond milk, tahini or almond butter, sliced veggies, scrambled egg, crushed cashews, sesame seeds, fresh fruit and nuts or seeds. 

No. 4 — Don’t Forget About Dressing

Okay, dressing deserves its own bullet item! I shared a few of my favorite homemade dressing recipes in last week’s Simple Healthy Dinner 5 Ways and always fall back on these NS-favorites to spice up my meal prep foods. It always amazes me how a simple dressing or sauce can transform meal prep components in a pinch.

No. 5 — Try Different “Rotations” Each Week

So you have your batch cooking down, perhaps once or twice a week. To avoid feeling bored with the same thing, try tackling a different “rotation” of meals. This challenges you to try new recipes, focus on seasonal foods and ensures that you have something new to enjoy.

In the Guide to Master Meal Planning, I break down meal ideas by “rotations” per season. I’ve found that it reminds me to enjoy fruits and vegetables that are more affordable, easier to find, and aligned with what my body craves at that time of year, i.e. a bowl of warming daal with fresh squash!

If you’re approaching each week with a different “rotation”, you can compile a grocery list at the start of each week, and hash out all of the batch cooked components with a game plan to prep the rest at the time of each meal. Done and done!

Let’s Hear It

Do you struggle with variety with your meal prep? What hurdles have you hit — and overcome — with batch cooking? Share your tips and any questions in the comments below. Someone in the NS Community could benefit from your tricks! Connect with NS on Instagram @NutritionStripped and #NutritionStripped.

xx McKel