January Meal Prep with Dried Foods
The holidays are over, and life is slowly going back to the New Year's business projections, financial, and career goals. But do you ever consider meal prepping in your New Year's resolutions? As you put away the decorations, plan out the year, and ease back into your normal routine, the pressure of work can make you forget the actions you need to take to be and stay healthy.
As the saying goes, “If you don’t plan, you plan to fail.” It may sound cliche, but every time you eat unhealthy foods, it starts with a lack of preparation, which makes you spend ages scratching your head wondering what to cook and ends with you ordering convenience foods. This year, it’s time to revert to or start the journey of healthy eating. And what better way to start with than meal prepping? If you want to have more healthy and balanced meals and stick to your health goals in 2024, then you need to adopt meal prepping. This article will help you map out your January meal prep with dried foods and all the essentials you need to help you achieve your health goals.
Why is Meal Prepping Important?
Planning your meals helps you free up the time you’d need to decide what to cook and then head to the store because you realize half of the ingredients you need are missing in your pantry.
Batch cooking helps you have ready to eat meals that only need a few minutes of heating, and you have a full plate of healthy meals. You can alternate different dishes when you make ahead a few of the meals and throw together something quick.
Why Meal Prep With Dried Foods?
Have you ever stocked your pantry with a week of supplies and then noticed midweek that most of the fresh food you bought has wilted or become moldy or stinky? Meal prepping with dried foods is a lifesaver because they have a longer shelf life, and you won’t ever need to worry about the food going bad.
4 Best Options For January Meal Prepping With Dried Foods
Always plan your meals starting with proteins because it makes it easy to decide on the accompaniment. Here are the best protein sources to consider:
Textured soy protein
Soy products provide a healthy source of protein which is vital for key body functions and helps to lower cholesterol.1 Textured soy proteins are versatile and can be used for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can prepare them in different ways as they can fit in your stir fries, salads, and toppings. Furthermore, they are available in a variety of flavors: beef, sausage, bacon, ham, or chicken bits.
Lentils and pulses
Legumes such as lentils, red beans, navy beans, and kidney beans are healthy sources of proteins that have a good dose of polyphenols, which may protect against diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases.1 They are ideal for January meal prepping because they are precooked and save you time and energy and have a longer shelf life.
Brown rice is a whole grain that is more nutritious than processed white rice. You can use it to make fried rice, vegetable rice, or veggie burgers. You can cook and keep in the fridge for up to 4 days in an airtight container and reheat in the microwave. The best way is to use a rice cooker.
The whole grain is packed with nutrients that are good for your health. Stocking them in the home is an easy way to help you make quick, healthy choices. You will only need to soak overnight and boil in the morning. Then, eat it, coupled with dried fruits.
Oatmeal is a versatile whole grain that is popular with health enthusiasts. It is rich in fiber, which is beneficial for weight loss and can help lower cholesterol.1 You can use it to make smoothies, porridge, breakfast cereal, and healthy bowls. Combine with freeze dried raspberries, strawberries, and bananas. If you wish to make it in advance, pack it into one serving container, store it in the fridge for up to 4 days, and reheat it when needed.
Pasta is a must have in your January meal prep with dried foods list. You can choose the whole grain variety to add fiber intake or white pasta. It cooks faster and has a long shelf life when dried. If you cook, you can keep it fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, separate from the topping and sauces. Then, dip it in a pot of boiling water for just 30 seconds to reheat when you want to eat.
If you want to get your daily dose of essential vitamins and minerals, then fruit is a must have in your January meal prep. Let’s look at some of the best fruits to consider.
Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? The truth is apples are one of the healthiest fruits you can eat whole or add to your dishes or pastries.2 Consider freeze dried apples because they have a longer shelf life than fresh apples.
Available in purple, red, or green varieties, grapes are great for snacking or adding to your pastries or making jam and jellies. Grapes have antioxidants that have anti-cancer properties and help lower the LDL cholesterol, which may cause heart disease.
From banana bread to breakfast cereal and smoothies, bananas add natural sugar to your food. They are rich in vitamin C, and B vitamins are a good source of fiber and potassium.3 Freeze dried bananas stay fresh longer, and you don’t need to worry about them going bad.
Nothing makes the best topper for your bowl of cereal, frozen yogurt, or baked goods other than berries. Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries are packed with phytochemicals that give them their hue and have antioxidant properties that protect you from heart disease and diabetes and boost brain health.1 They spoil fast when fresh but may stay longer than 2 years when freeze dried.
Good for your vision and a healthy immune system, carrots are delicious and add a boost of beta carotene, a precursor for Vitamin A, to your meals. You can eat them raw or add them to your smoothies or dishes.
The controversy of whether sweet potatoes are vegetables or not does not take away the fact that they have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties due to their carotenoid content. Freeze dried sweet potatoes will save you the time to wash, chop, and boil or bake them. They are ready to use, and you can eat them as a snack or add them to your baked goods.
One way to increase your vegetable intake is to stock enough of them at home. And the best way to do it is to add cauliflower to your January meal prep food list. Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C and folate and has fiber, which boosts your gut health and may aid in weight loss.4 Cauliflower loses moisture quickly and can go bad in a jiffy. That’s why freeze dried cauliflower is the best way to have your cake and eat it.
There’s something comforting about crunching into the broccoli that makes it the “it” vegetable starring in many healthy salads. It is rich in vitamin C, which has many benefits for the body, such as supporting a healthy immune system.1 But fresh broccoli spoils too fast, and when it starts yellowing, it becomes unpalatable. That’s why you need to choose freeze dried broccoli for your January meal prep with dried foods.
What foods last long for meal prep?
Most foods last in the fridge for up to four days in the fridge or a few months in the freezer. However, some foods - freeze dried bananas, apples, broccoli, and cauliflower - can last for more than 6 months or longer without refrigeration.
Can you meal prep without cooking?
Yes, meal prepping does not mean that you have to cook everything. It can be just as easy as having ready ingredients like freeze dried products to use to prepare meals throughout the week.
Is it better to meal prep or cook every day?
Meal prepping saves you the time you’d otherwise have spent doing daily food preparation. It also saves money because you buy groceries ahead of time and are less likely to order convenience foods, which can increase your monthly food budget.
Meal prepping is the best way to have a week’s worth of healthy meals to save you time and money. With freeze dried foods, it is easy to prepare healthy meals at home because you don't have to wash or chop them as they come ready to eat, so it’s easy to throw in a quick meal even during a busy weeknight. Just choose one food from each food group’ grains, proteins, fruits, and vegetables and you’ll have a ready meal in no time. Check out our freeze dried products and get started with January meal prep with dried foods.
- Branden Evans