While it might seem counterintuitive—the whole point of meal prepping is so you don't have to do much of anything later, right?—there are some things you should leave until the last minute, right before you're about to eat. That way you'll have a tasty, fresh meal you can actually look forward to. Because listen, if you end up tossing out your mushy sandwich or soggy salad, that sort of defeats the purpose of packing a healthy pre-made lunch!
We grabbed our meal-prep aficionado, Alyssa Gagarin, healthy chef and mastermind behind the 30-Day Meal-Prep Challenge, to lay down some serious hacks that will save you from the gross brown avocado for good.
Photo: Michael Marquand
Massage kale: If you're one of those people who want to eat more kale but have a hard time digesting it, you can thank the tough fibrous leaves—which, yep, contain lots of filling dietary fiber—for that. Solve this foodie conundrum by giving the leaves a little massage before you eat. Trim the stems off the leaves and roughly chop. Drizzle with olive oil and then knead the greens with your hands. The kale will last in the fridge for a day or two. (Try it: Superfood Salad Featuring Kale, Turmeric, Beets, and Avocado)
Hard-boil eggs: There are endless ways to eat hard-boiled eggs—as a midday protein snack, on top of salads or toast, in a healthy egg salad—but you're going to want these at the ready. So get that water boiling now and store a half or a full dozen in a clearly marked egg carton. However, don't even think about trying to fry or scrambled any eggs beforehand—yuck.
Cook zucchini noodles: Zoodles are the best healthy dinner invention since quinoa, but you'll enjoy them much more if you cook them just before you're ready to eat. Zucchini holds a lot of water, which can make cooked zoodles soggy if you store them. So do the prep work (spiralizer) earlier, and simply sauté the zoodles with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper when hunger calls. (P.S. Betcha didn't know you could spiralize these foods, too.)
Slice an avocado: Avocado flesh browns very quickly once you slice the fruit open, thanks to oxidation when it's exposed to air (the same thing that happens to apple slices). And no one wants a brown avocado slice on their perfectly green kale salad. Moral of the story: Cutting an avocado takes less than a minute, so just wait and do it when you're ready to smash or slice.
Blend smoothies: It might be tempting to blend your smoothie before bed, so it's ready to grab from the fridge after your morning run tomorrow, but just don't. If left in the fridge, it's going to be watery. And freezing it means you're going to have a rock-solid smoothie popsicle that's impossible to eat. Instead, perfect your freezer smoothie pack skills by tossing all the solid ingredients in a ziplock bag and freezing. Simply drop into a blender with your liquid of choice (coconut water, almond milk, etc.) and other favorites such as chia seeds, flax, or peanut butter, and you'll have a drink in hand in mere minutes.
For more meal-prep tips, tricks, hacks, recipes, and more, join the 30-Day Meal-Prep Challenge. It's perfect for beginners or anyone who wants to recharge their healthy eating habits.