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Mix and Match Meal Prep Made Easy

Mix and Match Meal Prep Made Easy

Did you know that one of the main keys to healthy living is meal prep?  Yes, it’s true!!!  Why?  The reason is simple. 

[bctt tweet=”When you have a plan or a roadmap for your meals all laid out it’s easier to make healthy choices when time seems short or you come home from work all exhausted.” username=”Lyn Croyle”]

Today, I want to introduce the idea of Meal Prep Mix and Match.  The strategy is to give you a clear idea of how to quickly make up a healthy meal without a lot of effort and time.  You simply choose the ingredients you want to use, prep them up and then prepare your meals when you’re ready to eat or to take on the go with you.

This post may contain affiliate links to products on Amazon. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

 Let’s Get Started with Mix and Match Meal Prep

We are going to start with choosing a whole grain to use in your meal.  All these options work hot or cold.  Cook an entire batch ahead of time so your prepared ahead of time to prepare your lunches during the week.  Quinoa, bulgur, whole wheat pasta and soba noodles cook the quickest and are great options for evening meals when time is a factor.  These all take less than 20 minutes to cook.

A standard serving is ½ cup of whole grains and will contribute approximately 60 – 148 calories to your bowl with the average calorie count around 100 calories per serving.  Bulgur and soba noodles are the lowest while wheatberries are the highest at 148 calories per cup. Keep in mind that whole grains are a part of a healthy Mediterranean style of eating and contribute many nutrients to your body.  Whole grains also contain fiber which will help improve your satiety as well.  Choosing healthy carbohydrates like whole grains are an important part of creating healthy meals and your body needs them to function.

When cooking these whole grains you can add flavor a bit of flavor by first sautéing some minced garlic in a bit of olive oil before adding water and the grain.  Be sure to lightly salt the water as well.

Overhead shot of various whole grains to use in mix and match meal prep includes quinoa pasta, brown rice, soba noodles and quinoa.

My favorite grains include:

  • Quinoa
  • Brown Rice
  • Bulgur
  • Wheatberries
  • Farro
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Soba noodles

Another pasta option

Today, there are a ton of new pasta products on the market made from ingredients other than wheat making them gluten free.  They vary greatly in their texture and palatability.  My favorites are the ones made with quinoa and red lentils. The texture isn’t exactly the same as regular pasta and they take some getting used to but I like the fact that they give me some additional protein in my diet.

Shop for grains

These are affiliate links to products on Amazon. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Bob's Red Mill Farro available to purchase on Amazon.Bob's Red Mill Bulgur available for purchase on Amazon.Bob's Red Mill Bulgur available from Amazon.

Step 2:  Choose your protein

Protein is an important part of all your meals and snacks.  Not only does it provide you with lots of nutrition but it also helps make you feel full and more satisfied so don’t skimp on this portion of your bowl to help save calories.  The possibilities are endless but here I am giving you my plant-based favorites!!!  Plant-based protein is a another part of the base of the     Mediterranean style of eating and an integral part of mix and match meal prep.  Incorporating more plant-based protein is great for your health and for our environment.

Showing various plant-based alternatives for protein in your mix and match meal prep. Multiple varieties and colors of legumes, tofu and tempeh.

 

The nutritional values of beans and lentils will vary among the different types and varieties. . But on average they will contribute about 100-130 calories to your bowl for a ½ cup serving.  One large egg is 70 calories, tofu is about 100 calories and the tempeh contributes the highest about at about 190 calories per 3.5 oz serving.

Egg Boiled, Fried or Poached

Hard boiled eggs are easy to take with you on the go.  But consider adding a runny fried egg or poached egg to the top of your bowl for some flavor.  The fat and richness of the egg adds tons of flavor.  The idea that the cholesterol in egg yolk is bad for you is false!!  Eggs in moderation (about once a week) are also included in the Mediterranean style of eating.

Edamame

Edamame are the green, young version of soy beans.  And they are an easy add in because you buy a bag frozen and just cook them for five minutes and they are ready to go.  Buy the ones already out of the shell to save you the hassle of having to remove the beans from the pod.

Jar of mung beans with sprouts forming.Sprouted Legumes

If you are new to sprouted legumes and interested in learning more about their nutrition and how to make your own, please check out my post Sprouted lentil recipe and how to grow sprouts where I share my experiences making my own sprouted legumes.  If you don’t want to sprout your own, many grocery stores and health food stores now carry options where you can purchase them.  But mung beans and lentils both sprout pretty easily and are ready to eat in about 2-3 days.

They have an interesting flavor and texture quite different to the cooked variety which I find quite tasty!!  Also, sprouted legumes, can be quickly sautéed or heated before serving.

Cooked or Canned Beans

There are so many different options here.  The most common are black beans, chickpeas, white beans, pinto beans, kidney beans and more.  These varieties are generally available at your local grocery stores.  Lovely black and white beans called Orca Beans by Shiloh Farms available to purchase on Amazon.
Think about venturing out and trying some less common options such as canary beans or even heirloom varieties such as these black and white Orca Beans by Shiloh Farms.

Cooked Lentils

Lentils are the quick and easy legume to prepare.  Some varieties are ready in as quickly as 20-30 minutes.

Sriracha Baked Tofu

Use extra firm tofu and slice into 1/4 pieces.  Then brush with a mixture of olive oil and sriracha and bake in an oven for 15-20 minutes.  Then slice and add to your bowl.  If you don’t like this marinade, consider soy sauce, buffalo sauce or even plain.

Step #3 Choose Lots of Fruits and Veggies

Of course, the options for vegetable and fruit toppings in your mix and match meal prep are endless.  And you can get even more variety by using different preparations of veggies.  You can mix it up between raw, steaming and roasting.

Many vegetables work best raw and you can include those as you normally would in a salad.  Another quick and easy way to prepare vegetables to use in bowls is to roast them. Roasting is one of my favorite preparations because it enhances the natural flavor and sweetness in the veggies.  Steaming is also a quick and easy option especially if you want a more tender version of the veggie in your bowl.

Some of my favorites veggies to use include these:

  • Raw – tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, carrots, bell pepper, spinach, kale, avocado
  • Roasted – broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, eggplant, bell pepper, onion, asparagus, green beans, winter squash, corn
  • Steamed – broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, peas, corn

Adding in some fruits creates an awesome savory-sweet combination which I really enjoy.  Berries such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries work the best but consider also mixing it up with some pineapple or mango for something a little bit different.

The Final Step in Mix and Match Meal Prep is to Flavor It Up

This part makes me think of Emeril Lagasse and his “BAM!!!”  Why?  Because this step may the most important and deserves an enthusiastic “BAM!!!”!!!!

This step in your mix and match meal prep not only adds the flavor that makes your dish taste amazing, but it also serves to tie all your ingredients together making it super tasty and delicious.

There are a few options to flavor your bowl.  Of course you can keep it super simple and just use fresh herbs and spices with some olive oil. But a couple other options are to drizzle a dressing or sauce over the top or serve all your ingredients warm in a bowl with a heated infused broth.

  • Guasacaca sauce on wood plate with multicolored arepas
    Guasacaca sauce

    Wasabi mayo

  • Roasted red pepper eggplant sauce
  • Guasacaca sauce
  • Creamy avocado
  • Vinegar and oil
  • Miso vegetable broth:  To make this a quick and easy miso broth, simply add some grated ginger, minced garlic, a bit of soy sauce and white miso to your vegetable broth.  Simmer for five minutes to allow the flavors to meld and for the miso to dissolve.
  • Lime chili vegetable broth:  To make this simply add a few squeezes of lime and some fresh sliced chilies to your broth and allow it to simmer for five minutes to infuse the flavors.  

Also consider adding some toppings to the top of your bowl is a great way to give it a bit of texture, crunch and a touch more flavor.

Some options include:

  • Herb toasted panko breadcrumbs
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pecans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Kale chips
  • Tortilla strips

Shop this post to save time

These are affiliate links to products on Amazon. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Part of meal prep is looking for ways to shorten the time you need to spend in the kitchen. These are two of my essential tools for meal prep that definitely will help speed up your meal prep.

 

Cuisinart 7 cup Food Processor available on Amazon.
I use a processor to make thicker sauces and to chop or grate veggies.
Nutribullet available for purchase on Amazon.
Using a small blender, like this Nutribullet is great for quick small batch dressings plus you use it to make morning smoothie!!

Mix and Match Meal Prep Made Easy

Using this formula simplifies a bit of the process of meal planning which is the first step in your meal prep process.  You can’t begin to prep your ingredients until you know what you plan to serve.  After a few experiments using this method, you will hopefully identify the flavors and preparations that work for you.  You can keep these in your rotation as well as continue to try out other variations.

I want to hear from you!!!  Tell me about your experience meal prepping?  What is the hardest part for you?  Does this method help at all? What flavors do you like the most?  Show me your Mix and Match Meal Prep results and tag me on Instagram @cookeatlivelove.

Pin for pinterest with photos showing the process and text in middle in red box.

Check out this other post for more healthy meal prep tips and ideas!!!

My secret to healthy meal prep

 



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