You know those picture-perfect meal-prep photos on Pinterest — the ones that make you want to immediately run out and buy all new Tupperware even though you already have a million mismatched lids and containers in your junk drawer? Health coach and wellness blogger Nikki Sharp is probably the meal-prep master behind many of those enviable photos, and she has a new book out called Meal Prep Your Way to Weight Loss ($15.97, Amazon) to teach you her best time-saving hacks. To get you started, Sharp shared with us her favorite pantry staples and healthy swaps.
Busy moms know the struggle of trying to feed not only a family but also themselves. Most of your energy goes towards making dinners and lunches for your husband and kids, meaning you're scarfing down leftovers (if there are any!) or buying fast food for yourself when midday mealtime rolls around. When you do have time to put something together for yourself, it's inevitably a sad desk salad — and by Wednesday you'd rather throw your lettuce against the wall than eat one more wilted bite. So what's a girl to do?
In her book, Meal Prep Your Way to Weight Loss, Sharp includes a handy 28-day healthy meal plan, which means you won't experience that terrible feeling of staring into your refrigerator and wondering "What do I make?" Sharp's plant-based recipes will keep you (and your kids) happy and healthy, plus they're designed to not only help you lose weight but also keep it off.
Nikki Sharp's 10 Favorite Meal Prep Ingredients
- Sweet Potato
The key to making meal prep interesting — even three or four days into the week — is to use one ingredient in multiple ways. Let's take chickpeas, for example. Sharp is a big fan of these little legumes because they're a versatile, time-saving ingredient and they're cheap. With just two cans of chickpeas, you can use one can to make hummus — which literally takes 120 seconds in a food processor — and the other to make veggie or vegan burgers. If those recipes don't have you drooling, you can also roast chickpeas and nom on them instead of chips. "There's this fallacy that people think that meal prepping is really hard, [but] everyone has two minutes and that's all it takes," Sharp said.
Nikki Sharp's Healthy Diet Swaps
Another piece of useful advice Sharp gave us is to use ingredients in a creative way. This is especially important when thinking of healthy diet swaps; eating spinach instead of iceberg lettuce or replacing sour cream with Greek yogurt seem obvious, so it's time to think outside the box. Would it blow your mind if we told you that oats — which, let's be honest, are only in your pantry because you need the fiber — can be used to make oat milk, are a substitute for panko bread crumbs, and are easily transformed into cheap oat flour? What about using chickpeas and black beans in desserts? (We could go for some black bean brownies right about now.) If you're a whiz in the kitchen, now is your time to get creative!
As summer approaches — and with it comes tank-top season — there's never been a better time to get your healthy eating back on track. Using Sharp's simple meal-prep hacks, you can save yourself time, money, stress, and extra calories during the week — and get back to enjoying family time.