Meal prep tends to go hand-in-hand with office jobs that don't exactly provide easy access to nutritious meals. But with the rise of work-from-home jobs, many clients have been asking me, "If I work from home, should I still meal prep?"
After all, when your office is in your home, it's easy to feel like healthy desk snack tips and #MealPrep Instagrams don't apply to you.
But no matter where you work, meal prep is a must. (It's also super easy with these 10 no-sweat meal prep tricks from pros.) When I first started working from home more regularly, I used to make my meals from scratch every day. It ate up a lot of time and it was easy to lose momentum on my work. (Plus, have you ever tried cooking as quietly as possible while on a call, praying the person on the other end of the line can't hear the clanging pots and pans?)
No matter where your office is, meal prep will save you time and money (especially if you're prone to ordering takeout when you suddenly realize you're hungry at 2 p.m.), help you maintain momentum, and foster a sense of routine. Here, how to make the process work for you.
Mix and Match As You Go
You don't need to go nuts creating an assembly line of overnight oats and quinoa salads. Instead, prep a bunch of ingredients like veggies, proteins, beans, grains, and sauces to mix and match as you go through your week (you can even shop once to eat all week).
One of the upsides to working from home is that you have more flexibility with meals. You can decide what you're in the mood for rather than having just one option waiting for you. Having stuff to throw together (so you don't have to prep from scratch) will save you time. Think of it like you're turning your fridge into a salad or stir-fry bar where you customize the add-ins you want.
Try My Favorite Foods to Meal Prep
Have a few containers of washed and trimmed greens handy to use as salad bases. Chopping some of your favorite veggies (Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, and asparagus), tossing them with olive oil, and roasting them on a sheet pan gives you great options to throw into salads, grain dishes, or an omelet. While you've got the oven turned on, you can bake some chicken, tofu, or a batch of meatballs to enjoy with pasta, zoodles, or salad. Spiralizing a big batch of zucchini means you can grab just what you need when you want to make those zoodles.
Your slow cooker is your best friend for preparing a big batch of a protein like pulled chicken to use in everything from salads and soups to sandwiches, pasta, and more. Hard-boiled eggs are another handy protein option that do double duty as a snack. A big pot of quinoa, brown rice, lentils, chickpeas, or another whole grain or bean makes for a convenient carb source to enjoy in a variety of dishes.
For a little accent, you can make caramelized onions in bulk and keep them for a few days in the fridge. Parmesan is another great option too—you can grate a bunch at once and keep it in an air-tight container in the fridge, using just a little at a time. Rather than rely on bottled salad dressing, shake up your own and keep it refrigerated for up to a week. Two winning combos to try: EVOO, balsamic, and dijon mustard, and miso-tahini. (We suggest these DIY salad dressing recipes.)
Set the Mood
Culture tends to glamorize the desk lunch (or in some professions, working through lunch). But taking a *legit* lunch break can help you recharge. At home, you'll have benefits like enjoying your food off of real plates and with proper flatware (buh-bye takeout sporks).
Try putting your lunch break on your calendar each day and eat away from your computer. This relaxed environment can help lower your stress levels, improve digestion, and keep you more in touch with hunger and fullness cues. Another plus: When you're mindful at mealtimes, it helps you eat less and feel more satisfied—a win-win.