Meal prep is a pretty common strategy for keeping healthy eating on track. I’ve seen all sorts of preparation strategies on blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest and have even tried a few of these methods myself. If you are unfamiliar with this idea it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: devoting a few hours one day of every week to prepare and package nutritious meals for the rest of the week. On the surface, meal prep is a way to get ahead by saving time and having healthy meals ready to grab-and-go. However there is one small problem: get ready to eat the same exact thing all. week. long. After the second day I was bored of the chicken pitas I had made and could barely look at another Greek yogurt. A girl’s got to have some variety in her life! I decided to create a series of posts with easy to prepare lunches that you can prep the night before or at the beginning of the week. They require 10 minutes of work or less and are super easy to grab in the morning and stick in a lunch bag.
The main course of this lunch is a hearty and flavorful salad. Start out with a base of your favorite lettuce in a medium sized Tupperware. Don’t fill it up all the way because we still have to add in all the good stuff!
Now, add 1/3 of a cup of natural shelled edamame. I recently discovered this stuff at my local grocery store and now I’m hooked. These little beans (peas?) are filling, slightly salty, and a million times better than frozen peas. I did some research and found that edamame is actually a nutritional powerhouse. One cup contains at least 6% of all of your daily recommended vitamins and 120% of the suggested intake of folate, an important nutrient in preventing depression and encouraging the development of new cells. Edamame are also a great way to get a boost of iron and protein!
On top of the edamame, add 1/4-1/3 of a cup of chickpea salad (depending on how loud your stomach is rumbling!). I love the brand Joseph’s chickpea salad, but feel free to use whole natural chickpeas or create your own by adding a little olive oil, roasted red pepper, parsley, and onion. Chickpeas are part of the same family as peanuts and provide many of the same nutritional benefits. Adding these legumes into your diet reduces your risk of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol build ups.
Now, I don’t know about you, but around the middle of the day I begin to crave a little sweet and salty treat. Rather than reaching for a bag of chips and a cookie, try mixing lightly salted almonds and mini dark chocolate chips!
Almonds are notorious for sustaining heart health and providing you body with nutritious mono-saturated fats (similar to the kind found in avocados and olive oil). Add 1/4 of a cup to a small container.
Toss in a tablespoon (or two!) of mini dark chocolate chips. Dark chocolate actually contains important antioxidants that have been proven to improve you mood. Aside from that, chocolate is just plain delicious!