Weight Management Eat Well Strategies Guide to Meal Prepping and Freezing By Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is an author, registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer, and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc. Learn about our editorial process Updated on October 04, 2020 Fact checked Verywell Fit content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. We rely on the most current and reputable sources, which are cited in the text and listed at the bottom of each article. Content is fact checked after it has been edited and before publication. Learn more. by Adah Chung Fact checked by Adah Chung LinkedIn Adah is an occupational therapist, working in the area of pediatrics with elementary students with special needs in the schools. Her work as an occupational therapist includes: home health, acute care, chronic care, seating and positioning, outpatient rehab, and skilled nursing rehab. Learn about our editorial process Print Most Americans report they prefer home cooked meals, but finding time to shop and cook often turns best intentions into calls for pizza delivery. Get a handle on a few simple strategies to make preparing healthy meals much less daunting. This guide to meal prepping and freezing helps you save time, money and some calories. 7 Tips For How to Use a Printable Meal Plan Template, According to Dietitians 1 Make A Plan istockphoto A little planning can go a long way. Sit down for a few minutes over the weekend and map out meals for the week ahead. Consider your schedule and pinpoint which days you can cook and which days you will be squeezed for time. For dinners, have nights follow a theme and be sure to make extra for lunchbox leftovers. Make one night vegetarian, another night chicken, and then one for fish and pizza or pasta. The busiest night of the week should be a low prep or no prep meal—something in the slow cooker or pressure cooker or from the freezer to the microwave. Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs½ cup marinara sauce½ cup chicken stock½ red onion, sliced1 clove garlic, thinly sliced1 green or red bell pepper, sliced fresh basilRed pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese for serving Add chicken thighs, marinara, chicken stock, onion, garlic, and bell pepper to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and taste for seasoning; add additional salt if needed and top with fresh basil. Serve with red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Nutrition 2 Soup It Up Soups can serve as a make ahead, one pot meal using all kinds of ingredients. Toby Amidor, registered dietitian and author of "The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook," makes batches of soup for busy weeks and to cut down on food waste. “During the winter months, I love a warming soup. Plus it’s an easy dish to prep a double batch of and freeze the rest for a busy week. Soups are also a good way to use those extra vegetable scraps, like hearty leafy greens and squash, which can help reduce food waste.” Here’s one of Toby's time-saving recipes: Root Vegetable and Bean Soup 1 packed cup baby spinach 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 medium onion, chopped 1 medium carrot, chopped 1 celery stalk, chopped 1 medium parsnip, chopped 1 medium turnip, chopped 1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth 1 tablespoon mirin 2 bay leaves ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper Stack the spinach leaves, roll them up, and then slice into ribbons. Work in batches if needed. In a large pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Add the onion, carrot, celery, parsnip, and turnip, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the beans, and stir to combine. Add the vegetable broth, mirin, and bay leaves, and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the spinach ribbons and black pepper. Recipe copyright Toby Amidor, The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook: Easy and Wholesome Meals to Cook, Prep, Grab, and Go, Rockridge Press, 2017. 3 Get Equipped Cook off large batches of things like brown rice in advance to make the pre-meal prep minimal, and choose simple one-pot (or pan) options to cut down on cleaning too. Sheet Pan Drumsticks With Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli 6 chicken drumsticks3 medium sweet potatoes1 tablespoon olive oil½ teaspoon kosher salt¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves2 cups broccoli florets Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and a piece of parchment paper. Place drumsticks on one side of the sheet pan and the sweet potatoes on the other. Season everything with olive oil, salt, pepper and seasoning mix. Place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes. Open the oven and add the broccoli on top of the sweet potatoes; cook for an additional 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. It’s hard to make an easy recipe without the right tools. Invest in staples like a cast iron skillet, a large sheet pan, and a Dutch oven with a lid to master the art of one-pot meals. 4 Befriend the Freezer Storing food in the freezer allows for meals at a moment's notice. For best results, make sure your freezer is at the proper temperature (0 degrees F) and use specially designated freezer bags and containers to keep foods protected. Some of the best items to freeze include sliced bread, casseroles of baked ziti or chicken Parmesan, baby food purees, cooked pancakes, sauces, stews, and chili. Favorite 2-Bean Chili 1 tablespoon canola oil1 pound ground turkey breast or extra lean ground beef1 tablespoon chili powder½ teaspoon celery salt1 teaspoon ground cumin½ medium red onion, diced1 red bell pepper, diced1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced½ cup chopped celery1 clove garlic, minced½ teaspoon kosher salt1 cup chicken broth or water1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained1 cup frozen corn kernels Heat oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add meat and cook until browned. Add chili pepper, celery salt, and cumin. Then add onion, peppers, celery and garlic; season with salt and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in broth, crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes and bring to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in beans and corn, and cook uncovered for minutes, stirring occasionally. 5 Keep a Well Stocked Pantry It is a lot easier to cook healthy meals if you’ve got the right ingredients on hand. Keep your pantry stocked with staples like pasta, canned tomatoes, honey, rolled oats, canned tuna, and canned beans. Keep these foods at your disposal and a healthy meal is only minutes away. Tuna Pasta Salad 1 (5 oz) can chunk light tuna in water, drained1 (5 oz) can solid white albacore tuna in water, drained½ cup chopped celery1 small apple, dicedJuice of ½ a lemon¼ cup mayonnaise¼ teaspoon kosher salt3 cups cooked whole grain pasta, cooled In a large bowl combine tuna, celery, apple, lemon juice and mayo; season with salt and mix well to combine. Toss prepared tuna with cooked pasta. By Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is an author, registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer, and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from companies that partner with and compensate Verywell Fit for displaying their offer. These partnerships do not impact our editorial choices or otherwise influence our editorial content.