Are you in awe or completely dumbfounded by the folks that meal prep their breakfast, lunch, and dinner every week?
I used to be that person. I didn’t understand why anyone would want to spend part of their weekend to cook a bunch of food and then portion out into individual containers. The people who meal prepped always seemed so organized and on top of things. Characteristics that I don’t necessarily apply to myself.
My opinion completely changed once I actually tried meal prepping for myself. So much so, that I wrote a book devoted to it called Mediterranean Diet Meal Prep Cookbook! You’ll see the benefits of easy, healthy meal prep too once you try it.
It’s an amazing feeling to just open the fridge and have homemade, healthy food already prepared and ready to eat! If you change up the menu each week, your palate won’t get bored, I promise! I also find that it helps to choose recipes that use a variety of cooking methods. You don’t want all of your recipes to use the oven for example because you won’t have room in the oven for everything. Once you get organized with what dishes you want to make and write up a grocery list, you’ll be on your way to tasty meal prep in no time!
What are the benefits of meal prepping?
- Easy portion control for all of your meals
- Save time in the kitchen since you don’t have to cook every single day of the week (Fun fact: Not including prep time, Americans, on average, spend 51 minutes each day cooking meals.)
- You’ll save money since you won’t be eating out at restaurants as much
- Cut down on food waste
- Have more time overall to spend time with your family or engage in fun activities
- Budget-friendly healthy meals
- The stress of having to decide what to eat when you get home from work goes away
Do I have to partake in meal prep Sunday?
No! You can choose any day that’s convenient for you. I think it’s helpful to go grocery shopping the day before you decide to prep. Some days I’ll just prep everything in a 2 to 3 hour window. Other times, I’ll chop all of the veggies on the same day I grocery shop, then finish the recipes the next day.
What kind of meal prep containers should I use?
- I like glass containers the best. They’re microwave AND dishwasher safe AND don’t harbor off smells like plastic can.
- Make sure they’re leak-proof and airtight!
- Buy various size meal prep containers including smoothie cups and dressing/sauce cups
- Don’t forget about baggies for snack items like trail mix and popcorn
How long will meal prep food last for in the refrigerator?
It completely depends on what the actual food is, but most items last between 3-5 days.
What’s the difference between meal prep and meal planning?
Meal planning is a little different than meal prepping, but the terms are often used interchangeably. While meal prepping consists of portioning prepared meals into single-serving containers ahead of time, meal planning is really just about figuring out what you want to cook for the week.
Some tips on what NOT to do when meal prepping
- Don’t choose difficult recipes with a zillion ingredients
- Don’t wait until late Sunday night to start prepping
- Don’t assume that the food you prep will last in the fridge forever
- Don’t start cooking before you check your container supply
Now let’s get started with one of my favorite healthy meal prep recipes, which also happens to be a sheet pan meal, Za’atar Salmon with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Peppers.
Za’atar Salmon with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Peppers
Za’atar is a flavorful spice blend popular in countries such as Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. Sumac is a lemony, burgundy-colored spice found in the spice section of major supermarkets. If you’re trying to cut down on the salt, sumac is a great spice that adds tons of flavor. Check out other recipes like this from Mediterranean Diet Meal Prep Cookbook!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
FOR THE VEGGIES
2 large red bell peppers, cut into ½-inch strips
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
FOR THE SALMON
2¾ teaspoons sesame seeds
2¾ teaspoons dried thyme leaves
2¾ teaspoons sumac
1 pound skinless, boneless salmon filet, divided into 4 pieces
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
TO MAKE THE VEGGIES
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place silicone baking mat or parchment paper on 2 sheet pans.
- On the first pan, place the peppers and sweet potatoes. Pour 1 Tablespoon oil and ¼ teaspoon salt over both and toss to coat. Spread everything out in 1 even layer. Place sheet pan in the oven and set timer for 10 minutes.
TO MAKE THE SALMON
- Mix sesame, thyme and sumac together in a small bowl.
- Place salmon filets on the second baking sheet. Spread ¼ teaspoon olive oil over each piece of salmon, then spoon ½ teaspoon lemon juice over each.
- Pat 2 teaspoons of the za’atar spice mix over each piece of salmon.
- When veggie timer goes off, place salmon in oven and bake 10 minutes for salmon that is ½-inch thick and about 15 minutes for 1-inch thick pieces. Veggies should be done when the salmon is done cooking.
- Meal Prep Step: Place ¼ of the peppers and sweet potatoes and 1 piece of salmon into 4 separate containers
Storage: Store covered containers in fridge for up to 4 days.
Keywords: meal prep, salmon, za’atar, sheet pan, dairy free, nut free, gluten free, sweet potatoes, red peppers, mediterranean diet