Meal prepping can save you time during your busy work week and get healthy, well-balanced meals on the dinner table. My new cookbook The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook provides tips and recipes for planning and preparing healthy meals. Meal prepping, however, isn’t just about dinner. You can plan breakfast, lunch, and snacks too!
When choosing what to cook for the week, it’s important to include foods from all food groups including whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and, of course, dairy. With most Americans failing to grab their three recommended daily servings of dairy, it’s important to plan ways to incorporate dairy into everyday meals and snacks. Here are my 5 meal prep secrets with dairy:
1. Stock up on ‘Grab-and-Go’ dairy
When making a shopping list for the week, include several dairy-based snacks that you can quickly grab when you’re on the move. My go-to packaged dairy foods include Greek yogurt and cheese sticks. I make sure to buy at least 5 single-serve yogurts and a package of cheese sticks every week. My daughter loves rice pudding snack cups, which I will put on my shopping list once a month. They’re an easy way to make sure you’re getting quick, essential nutrients with little effort.
2. Add dairy at breakfast
When planning breakfast for the week, think about dishes that add dairy as an ingredient. Some examples of recipes from my cookbook include Blackberry-Lemon Overnight Oats, Cacao-Date Oatmeal, and Meyer Lemon Cranberry-Ricotta Muffins. You can also add a dollop of Greek yogurt to top French toast, pancakes, and whole grain waffles.
3. Sauces and dips count, too!
Dairy based sauces and dips not only add flavor to a dish, but you’ll get the goodness of dairy in every bite. Some of the recipes from my cookbook with dips include Whole-Grain Pancakes with Spiced Greek Yogurt Sauce and Crudité with Herbed Yogurt Dip. You can also make a protein dish with an herbed yogurt marinade or sauce. I created Lamb Chops with Mint-Yogurt Sauce which has a Mediterranean flare to it.
4. Add cheese
I can’t go through a day without having some delicious cheese! I also want to make sure to moderate the amount, so I can get the nutritional goodness without going overboard. Salads, pizza, wraps, burgers, stuffed peppers, and dressing are dishes where I add cheese like mozzarella, feta, and blue.
5. Prepare snacks with dairy
I like to prepare a few DIY snacks over the weekend that I can enjoy throughout the week. Some of my dairy-filled snacks include Mason Jar Key Lime Parfaits and Honey Ricotta with Strawberries (recipe below). The recipe makes 4 servings, and I place each serving in a separate resealable container in the fridge for up to 5 days so I can grab one as a snack throughout the week.
Photo courtesy of Gail Watson Photography.
Honey Ricotta with Strawberries
Makes: 4 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons honey
¼ cup unsalted cashews, chopped
3 cups strawberries, halves
1. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, honey, and cashews.
2. Place ¼ cup of the ricotta mixture and ¾ cup strawberries in each of four resealable containers.
Nutrition info (per serving): Calories: 201; Fat: 9g; Saturated Fat: 4g; Protein: 9g; Total Carbs: 23g; Fiber: 2g; Sodium: 64 mg
Copyright Toby Amidor, The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook: Easy and Wholesome Meals to Cook, Prep, Grab, and Go, Rockridge Press, 2017.
Have a favorite meal prep tip? Leave me a comment below!
American Dairy Association North East is one of 19 state and regional promotion organizations working under the umbrella of the United Dairy Industry Association. It is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. For more information, visit www.americandairy.com.
Created in partnership by the National Football League and National Dairy Council, which was founded by America’s dairy farmers, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Fuel Up to Play 60 is the nation’s largest in-school wellness program and creates real transformational change in more than 73,000 schools. Learn more at www.FuelUpToPlay60.com.