Master meal prepper Leslie Stokes shares how she preps easy, delicious meals in one hour or less.
Sleep 8 hours a night. Move your body daily. Take your supplements. Stretch. Meditate. The list of things you can do to improve your health never ends. Oh yeah, and don’t forget about your job or spending time with your family. Oof.
While there’s no denying that living a healthy lifestyle does take a little extra time and effort (it’s worth it, we promise), there are a few things you can do to make it easier, such as meal prepping.
Now if making your food in batches still seems like a lot of work, we’re here to simplify it even further. We asked meal prep expert Leslie Stokes, who’s known for her meal prep recipes that can be made in one hour or less, what she does to meal prep like a pro. Ready to hear her secrets? Scroll on for more.
Stokes, who began meal prepping after she had her first child, says “My biggest [piece of] advice for people who aren’t quite confident in the kitchen or just learning to meal prep is don’t be afraid to buy the frozen, steamable veggies.” Not only are frozen veggies just as healthy as fresh vegetables, but they’re also usually more budget-friendly and require less preparation to get them ready for cooking.
Meal prepping doesn’t mean you need to prepare every single item completely from scratch. Stokes recommends buying “premade dressings and easy proteins like chicken sausage, rotisserie chicken, and ground meats” to make meal prepping easier. By doing this, you can reduce the amount of time you spend cooking and give your meals a little extra variety.
You can also use items like protein bars or protein powders to fill in the gaps when you don’t want to prep every meal of the day. Stokes recommends Truvani protein powder, saying, “It’s the cleanest on the market.” You can use the code LESLIE20 if you decide to give it a try.
Just like your training in the gym, the right equipment makes a world of difference when it comes to cooking. If you’re serious about meal prepping, or at least serious about giving it a real try, Stokes “highly recommends making a small investment into some meal prep essentials,” which include “larger baking sheets, veggie choppers, or a rice cooker or instant pot.” You can find all of her meal prep essentials here.
Let’s get serious – you’re never going to stick with meal prepping if you find the food you’re cooking boring. If you’re worried about things becoming monotonous, Stokes assures “when the food tastes good, you don’t get tired of it.”
She likes to combat potential food fatigue by incorporating “things like fresh salsas, [and] homemade dressings and sauces to keep it interesting.” She says you can also “cook one protein and serve it in a variety of ways. Maybe you make a big batch of chicken – you can take that chicken and use it in a salad, tacos, wraps, or stuffed peppers.” Stokes also recommends “switching up your protein and veggies each week so you don’t get bored.”
Even when meals take less than an hour to cook, chances are good that you’re still going to have occasions where you just don’t have time to prep for the week ahead. When that happens, Stokes personally combats this by “making a big batch, and freezing half to eat on those weeks when I’m too busy to prep.” While not all meals will freeze well, Stokes has plenty that will, like these Sheet Pan Quesadillas.
Want more meal prep recipes and tips? Make sure to follow Leslie @leslie_stokes_ for weekly meal prep recipes that take one hour or less.