3 Easy, Healthy Make-Ahead Meals

 Via Giphy

Via Giphy

By Jessica Hamlin

Eating nourishing food is a good way to promote health and fuel your body and brain.

Making your own food not only cuts down on costs but helps ensure you know exactly what’s in your food and allows you to better customize it for your taste and health preferences. But if you’re not Martha Stewart and don’t want to spend a good chunk of each day in the kitchen, where do you start?

The Perks of Meal Planning

Making healthy food doesn’t need to be hard. And if you can make a bunch of food ahead of time, that helps make life—and eating healthy—even easier.

Not only does it cut down on your cooking time, it also means less cleanup and fewer dishes the rest of the week because you only have to make a mess of the kitchen once. So, you can spend that time doing other things you need or want to do. 

Plus, when you’re hungry and busy later you’ll have something healthy ready to go so you won’t be as tempted to grab something fast that may not be good for you or make you feel good. Double win!

Here are three delicious dishes you can make ahead of time for lunch or dinner. If you want more food that’ll last you longer and make the week easier, try doubling the recipe.

Want more tips to help you get started? Check out our 5 go-to meal planning strategies.

Curried Chicken Salad

This flavorful and filling dish is easy to pack up to-go for work. Just refrigerate it when you get there. Wrap it up in lettuce for easy lettuce wraps and an easy way to eat some greens or serve it on good bread you enjoy. For yummy, homemade bread free of gluten or grains, try Simple Mills artisan bread mix.

Substitutions: Ditch the mayo or use a mayo or hummus that doesn’t use inflammatory oils like sunflower, safflower, canola and soybean. Primal Kitchen makes a mayo with good, simple ingredients and Hope Foods hummus is a delicious brand that uses only olive oil. You can also use tuna instead of chicken. Try a sustainable brand like Wild Planet or Sustainable Seas tuna.  

Easy Stir-Fry

Stir-fry is great since it’s packed with flavor, you can customize it with a variety of protein and vegetables, and it’s delicious warm or cold—perfect for leftovers. If you’re trying to make a batch of stir-fry to last a couple days, you may want to go easy on the sauce so the veggies don’t get as soggy and add more sauce later when you’re ready to eat if you like. Or you can cook the protein and leave the chopped veggies raw.

For a specific recipe, you can also try Dr. Axe’s Salmon Stir Fry recipe.

Substitutions: Use honey in the stir-fry sauce instead of sugar (if you want sweetener at all). For the soy sauce, use non-GMO soy sauce or if you don’t eat soy, try coconut aminos. Cook the stir-fry with avocado or sesame oil, which both stand up to high heat but aren’t inflammatory.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

What’s more comforting than comfort food? Having comfort food ready to go! Black beans’ protein and fiber will fill you up and keep you going, and sweet potatoes also have beneficial fiber, vitamins and antioxidants (which help protect your cells). Tomatoes, detoxifying cilantro and spices help round out this delicious, hearty and nourishing dish.

Bonus Recipes

We featured this easy basic crustless spinach quiche in our piece about 3 Ways to Eat Leafy Greens. You can cook it up ahead of time for breakfast or lunch throughout the week.

And, who could forget Dodi's Big Ass Salad Plan?

Stay tuned later this week for make-ahead overnight oats breakfast ideas!

(Thumbnail Photo: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash


Jessica Hamlin is an LA-born and bred journalist and editor who started taking pictures of food back when everyone used film cameras. A graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s health coach training program, she’s passionate about wellness and enjoys making and discovering delicious and healthy food. Her work has appeared in Clean Plates, NPR affiliate KPCC, AOL, and Eater LA.   

 

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