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How to Meal Prep for Fall: Tips & Recipes

If you’re new to meal prepping, then the thought of preparing a week’s worth of meals in advance can seem like a ton of extra work. I mean, cooking is something most of us do on a regular basis and we have routines and go-to meals for a reason… right?

But for those of us who are balancing a family, social life, career, and school (or a combination of any of these), meal prepping can save a ton of time in our busy schedules. Not to mention, prepping a few days of meals in advance is a great way to stay on track with a healthy diet, prevent food waste, and even regulate your metabolism. After all, it’s hard to want to eat poorly when you have ready-to-go options!

As someone who doesn’t particularly love the art of cooking, I’ve been meal prepping my dishes for a few years now and it’s revolutionized my schedule. I love that I can set aside one day a week to batch cook a few meals and then have grab-and-go options when life gets hectic.

So, with scrumptious fall fare as the theme, here are my best tips and recipes for meal prepping!

1. Start small

If you’re totally new to this thing called meal prepping, then my advice is to start small. Don’t worry about making a ton of meals at once or wondering where you’re going to store everything. Instead, just choose a couple of your favorite meals (or use the recipes below!) and purposefully make too much. Then, split up the leftovers into storage containers and either keep them in the fridge or freeze what you know will keep.

2. Keep your meals balanced

In choosing a meal-prepping routine, chances are you have two motivations. One, that you’re going to save a ton of time cooking every week. And two, that you stick to a healthy diet by having good options constantly on hand.

In keeping your meals balanced while meal prepping, stick to favorites that you love and make your dishes colorful. Using different vegetables, grains, and meats will keep you interested in eating the same thing for a few days every week. You don’t want to get burnt out of your meals before you finish what you made, after all.

3. Shop local and in season

This fall, try to make a goal to primarily support local Lebanese producers in your meal prepping. Whether that’s by visiting farmer’s markets, starting a vegetable garden yourself, or buying from your independent neighborhood shops, shopping local is an easy way to make your meals healthy and have a smaller environmental footprint.
Wondering what’s in season this fall? Check out these five flavorsome fall vegetables!

4. Make sure you have quality storage containers

Something you’ll only have to invest in once in a blue moon, having quality storage containers for your food will keep your meals fresh and tasty all week long. I recommend having containers that fit one full meal at a time (portioning out your meals ahead of time makes it easy when you need to grab and go), and that separate your flavors so they aren’t running into each other.

5. Have everything you need handy

A well-stocked pantry before you begin meal prepping really is the key to success. Make sure you have enough grains (rice, barley, quinoa, etc.), canned goods (tomatoes, legumes, beans, etc.), and perishables on hand so that when you start cooking you can go with the flow and diversify your options.

Then, when you go shopping for groceries, know exactly what you already have in the pantry and what (and how much) you’ll need for specific recipes.

6. Spice it up

Unless you’re new to cooking, chances are you know how to spice up a meal like a pro, but I have found that this is the make-or-break ingredient as to whether I’m going to enjoy eating the same meal multiple times a week.

Don’t shy away from spices, and don’t be afraid to try new things as you’re batch prepping.

7. Make a routine

As I mentioned above, the easiest way to stay on track with meal prepping is to make it a routine. Set aside at least one day every single week to make mains, salads, lunches, and sides. Get your family in on this to cut down on time — and have fun! Making regular meal-prepping something you look forward to really is the key to having success in the long term.

3 Great Meal-Prepping Recipes for Fall

These are three of my absolute favorite go-to recipes for meal prepping in the fall. Note that you can easily adapt any of them for specific dietary needs, such as making them dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, etc. Have fun!

Breakfast: Anything-but-basic Overnight Oats

Ingredients: Rolled oats, milk (try out these milk alternatives if you’re going dairy-free), yogurt, chia seeds (optional), vanilla extract, toppings (fresh fruit, nut butter, Nutella, syrup, nuts, cocoa, dark chocolate, etc.)

Directions: Mix 1 part oats, 1 part milk, and 1 tbsp seeds in a mason jar. Add in a dollop of yogurt, and mix in any flavors of your choice. Leave in the fridge overnight (or for a few days), and then top it off with fresh fruit. Enjoy!

Make it fall: Try adding sliced apples, cinnamon, pumpkin puree, nutmeg, ginger, or other cozy ingredients to your oats. 

Note: Overnight oats are something you can make a few at a time, as I find that even after you add the liquids, they stay fresh for a few days.

Lunch – Protein Bowl

Ingredients: ¼ (63mL) cup tahini, 4 cloves garlic, ½ cup (125mL) fresh lemon juice, ¼ cup (60mL) nutritional yeast, 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, ½ teaspoon sea salt, black pepper, 1 cup cooked green lentils, 3 cups cooked grain of your choice (rice, barley, etc.), 1 red onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 large tomato, 3 handfuls spinach.

Directions: Make the lemon-tahini dressing first – In a food processor, mix the tahini, 1 clove garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper until smooth. Set aside. Cook the lentils and your grain of choice and also set them aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil before adding the onion and 3 cloves of garlic until the onion is translucent. Add the bell pepper and tomato and saute for 7 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the spinach until wilted. Stir in all of the lemon-tahini dressing, and then remove from the heat.

In a dish, spoon a cup of the grains into the bottom and then top with the tahini vegetable mixture.

Note: You can add any additional kind of protein you’d like to this recipe, including tofu, shrimp, or chicken.

Dinner – Peanut Stew

Ingredients: 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 medium onion (diced), 3 cloves garlic, 1 red bell pepper, 1 jalapeno (diced), 1 large sweet potato (regular potatoes work too), 3 large tomatoes (diced), salt and pepper (dashes), ⅓ cup (75mL) natural peanut butter, 4 cups (1 liter) vegetable broth, 1 tsp chili powder, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, 1 can chickpeas, 2 handfuls baby spinach.

Directions: In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Stir until the onion and garlic become translucent. Add the bell pepper, jalapeno, potatoes, and tomatoes. Simmer for 5 minutes and then season with salt and pepper.

Next, In a medium bowl, whisk the peanut butter and vegetable broth together, and then stir it into the simmering vegetables. Add the chili pepper and cayenne. Cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes before stirring in the chickpeas and spinach. Enjoy!

That’s it for my guide to meal prepping, and three tried-and-true recipes from my kitchen! I hope this gave you a ton of inspiration for how to simplify your cooking routine. Let me know your favorite meal-prepping tips and recipes in the comments!

Sources: 

https://feelgoodfoodie.net/recipe/overnight-oats/

https://mealpreponfleek.com/top-health-benefits-meal-prepping/