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Easy meal prep ideas

You woke up a little late, didn’t have time to make breakfast and forgot to pack a lunch. Before you know it, a day of positive eating decisions turns into a day of reaching for the most convenient choice available.

Planning is the key to a nutritious meal plan and healthy lifestyle. It may sound daunting, but we’ve got some simple meal prep tips to help you stay on track. Whether you’re a grab-and-go-er or a careful planner, these simple ideas can help you kick off good habits for spring – and eat better all year long!

FOR THE GRAB-AND-GO-ER

If you’re constantly on the go, you can easily add snacks and mini-meals to your routine. Stock up on these convenient, portable options that require little to no prep, and keep your body fueled so your mind can focus throughout the day:

  • YOGURT – especially lower-fat options – is a nutritious snack. It’s a good source of protein, which can help keep you satisfied longer, and it provides important nutrients like calcium and B vitamins. Plus, it comes in lots of different varieties and flavors to keep things interesting. Grab one for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
  • SMOOTHIES can be another great way to foolproof your busiest mornings. Simply combine your favorite dairy ingredients like milk and yogurt in a blender with fruit or other nutritious ingredients you love, power it up and you’re good to go.
  • CHEESE and crackers anyone? They’re not just for party snack platters! There are reduced fat options that can fit into nutritious eating plans, too. Pack yourself some string cheese, a few whole grain crackers and some grapes for balanced snacking throughout the day.
  • Low-fat or fat-free CHOCOLATE MILK is a quick (and tasty) snack with protein, calcium and B vitamins to help you stay fueled. Stock up for your mid-afternoon snack, your post-workout recovery or your breakfast boost!

FOR THE MEAL PLANNER

Set yourself up for a success by designating one to two days every week for meal prep. You can also make meal prep an easy part of your daily routine – for instance, by doubling your recipes and portioning out the leftovers, pre-chopping fruits and veggies for salads and smoothies and portioning ingredients to use in future recipes. Load up on some simple and delicious options for your meals with these recipes and tips:

  • OVERNIGHT OATS make for a simple-prep, easily portable breakfast option throughout the week. Oats + Milk + Chia seeds + Fruit? Done! Simply measure out, mix and portion! You can keep it interesting by prepping different combos of fruits and spices. (Think: Apple pie, berry coconut and blueberry flax.)
  • BUILD A BOWL: Remember those veggies you chopped earlier? Here’s a great way to use them to build easy, versatile meals. Start with a whole grain as the base, then add your favorite toppings. The best part is that you can customize your bowl every day, depending on what you’ve prepped. Maybe it’s avocado, tomato and reduced-fat cheddar on Monday and low-fat cottage cheese, oranges and kale on Tuesday. This recipe is a great one to keep up your sleeve for interesting meals in a pinch.
  • Got a SLOW COOKER? Crock pots make meal prep as easy as it gets. We’ve got 15 winning recipes to keep your planning simple and exciting at the same time, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. 

Bottom line? Meal prep doesn’t have to be intimidating, and dairy foods like low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese can help make it even easier. Keep your pantry and fridge stacked with snacks, make planning a part of your everyday routine, and you’re well on the way!