Nutrition expert Laura Lea is all about efficiency
Weeknight Meal Prepping
Credit: © Getty Images/iStockphoto

The last thing that many of us want to do when we get home after a long day is cook. Instead, we want to quickly throw a simple meal together or just reheat leftovers out of the fridge, before we put our feet up and see what Netflix has decided to gift us. Luckily, this dream is achievable through just a little bit of planning.

Chef and nutritional consultant Laura Lea shared some of her favorite tips for faster and healthier weeknight meals with us when she dropped by our test kitchen last week.

Dedicate part of your weekend to meal prep for the following week

According to Lea, a little planning goes a long way when it comes to preparing meals for the week ahead. "Go ahead and grab all of the recipes you want to make for the week at once and then set aside a day to do all of your prep," she says. "This allows you to get out ahead of everything that can or will pop up during the week and you’ll always have something ready to reheat when you get home at the end of the day."

Chef Laura Lea
Credit: © Kate Davis Photography

Break down your produce before you store it

"One tip I always give is to not put produce into your refrigerator until it’s chopped and prepped," she explains. "If you go ahead and de-stem your asparagus and chop up your cauliflower florets as soon as you bring your groceries home, it will save you so much time on the backend."

In a pinch, frozen vegetables are your best friend

While Lea doesn't like them as much as their fresh counterparts, she knows that frozen vegetables are great for last minute meals. "I’m totally a fan of some prepared vegetables since they really can make your life a whole lot easier," she says. "Are frozen vegetables the best? No, but if you’re deciding between take out or bagged frozen vegetables, the vegetables will definitely be way more versatile for throughout the week."

Keep a few of your favorite staples handy in your pantry

Lea admits that even the most organized planners need to improvise sometimes. "I really love legume-based noodles and I like to keep those around for easy weeknight meals," she explains. "They’re super filling and a great vehicle for a lot of other flavors. Usually I just make a simple sauce to go with them with whatever leftover aromatics I have around and either stock or coconut milk. Also, I always try to include some kind of protein in there too, like chickpeas or chicken sausage."