by Jenny Dougherty
Meal prepping has become a common practice among health-conscious individuals, and for good reason! To “meal prep” means to cook a large amount of food at one time, so that it can be eaten throughout the week. Doing this is a great way to make sure you have access to healthy food throughout the week, even with a busy schedule! It makes healthy eating easy and convenient.
If healthy foods are not convenient and easily accessible, you are more likely to choose less healthy options. Studies have shown that young adults who prepare more of their own meals are healthier than those who eat out more often (1). Meal prep is one way to prepare your own meals, even if your weekly schedule doesn’t leave much time for cooking, which is the main reason cited by young adults for not cooking for themselves (2).
One of my favorite ways to meal prep to make a “sheet pan meal”. This means to place all ingredients for the meals on one sheet pan, and bake it all at once, making meal prep even easier! Then, divide the food into single serving Tupperware containers and stored until needed throughout the week. Below I added a favorite meal prep recipe of mine. It makes four servings, at 396 calories per serving. It can be made all on one sheet pan and enjoyed all week!
- 1 large sweet potato , peeled and diced into 1/2-inch wide pieces
- 1/4 cup olive oil , divided
- 4 cloves garlic , crushed or finely chopped, divided
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano , divided
- 2 teaspoons basil , divided
- 2 teaspoons parsley , divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 21 ounces (600 g) boneless skinless chicken breasts , diced into 1 1/4-inch pieces
- 1 large head of broccoli cut into florets (about 3 cups of florets)
- 1 red pepper (capsicum), deseeded and cut into wedges
- 1 medium red onion , cut into wedges
- Preheat oven to 400°F ( 200°C).
- Line a large, rimmed baking sheet / tray with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Arrange sweet potatoes on the tray; drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil (or enough to evenly coat), 1 crushed garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon each of oregano, basil and parsley. Toss well to coat completely. Season with salt and pepper and spread into an even layer. Cover with foil and roast in hot oven for 20 minutes, while preparing the remaining vegetables.
- The sweet potatoes will just begin to soften at this time (they will still be fairly hard on the inside, but soft on the outside). Remove from the oven and arrange the chicken, broccoli, peppers, and onion around the sweet potatoes. Drizzle with remaining oil; add the garlic and herbs. Toss everything together to completely coat in the oil. Season with extra salt and pepper to taste.
- Return to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, turning chicken and other ingredients once while cooking, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, and the other vegetables are cooked through.
- Serve immediately OR allow to cool to room temperature, divide into 4 containers and you have meals ready for the week!
- Reicks M, et al. Impact of Cooking and Home Food Preparation Interventions Among Adults: Outcomes and Implications for Future Programs.Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 2014; 46(4), 259-76.
- Wilson CK, et al. Self-reported food skills of university students. Appetite 2017;