A woman sauteeing vegetables on a stove beside a stack of meal prep containers.

My Meal Prep Heros

Last updated: April 2022

My paternal grandmother was Team Meal Prep before it was cool. She had no choice, working full-time while raising 4 kids on her own, taking in sewing and commissions, and dealing with several complicated health concerns. Her kitchen looked like a Tupperware museum!

Lynn* took her lunch and always had dinner covered with leftovers, casseroles, and special meals. As a kid, it looked like she had plenty of time to get everything done. These days, I see that she was a careful planner with well defined personal priorities.

Rotisserie chicken

I can just hear Lynn saying something like, “I don’t need their chicken!” And I don’t technically need it either. My rotisserie chicken zeal is about just getting it done as easily as possible.

What’s to like: convenience, versatility, and decent flavor.

Tips: Break the chicken down into single serving portions. Shred the breast for tacos, soup, and salads. Freeze at least half. I portion mine out in zipper sandwich bags, pack them in a freezer bag, and set it on the lower half of the freezer.

Veggie ribbons

Have you tried zoodles, those improvised zucchini noodles that seem to be popping up everywhere? If so, you've already had veggie ribbons.

Veggie ribbons are a popular way to increase vegetable  intake, by adding them into familiar recipes and techniques.

What’s to like: Most of us could do with more veggies.

Tips: Start with a proven recipe or technique.

Use a thicker sauce to avoid drowning your veggie ribbons. Most conventional and gluten-free pastas are sticky, absorbent, and hollow. Veggie ribbons are solid, with  more of a soft or slick texture, which means the sauces have less space to occupy.

Spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash got popular around the time I went gluten-free, back in 2007. We even grew some on the little patch of dirt alongside our driveway!

What’s to like: The mild flavor makes it easy to fold spaghetti squash into most meals.

Tips: Cook it according to the instructions on the sticker. Work slowly, mindful of cutting through the thick rind. Let the molten hot cooked squash cool at least 5 minutes before pulling the flesh out of the rind. Drain the cooked squash before adding it to casseroles.

Roasted radishes

Give them a try if you fancy root vegetables. They taste like an astringent earthy potato.

What’s to like: they’re affordable, durable, and widely available.

Tips: roast them on a sheet pan with your favorite oil and herbs.

Shortcut: matchstick are a great zero prep option for quick stir-fries, skillets, and sheet pan dinners.

Frozen kale

I make it in the microwave to mix with things like cabbage ribbons, spaghetti squash, tofu crumbles, and shredded rotisserie chicken. Frozen kale has a slightly mild or muted flavor, and the stalks are much softer than fresh.

What’s to like: For me, nothing besides frozen spinach matches frozen kale for convenience and accessibility.

Tips: Season well, as kale can be a bit of a flavor suck.

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