8 MUST KNOW back to school meal prep hacks to help you save time during the school season! Even if you’re not a student! These tricks can apply to anyone who is looking to step up their meal prep game and save time.
Now that September has arrived, the school season is in full effect. Which means most of us are getting back into a routine that somehow slipped away during summer activities. Just when you thought you were ready to give up on the whole back to school lunches thing, I’m here to save you! Here are 8 meal prepping hacks that will make the process a little bit easier.
1. Prep your breakfast
My first hack is to prep your breakfast the night before. Or better yet, on a Sunday to have it ready to go for the week ahead! You’ll notice that doing this will save you time and energy in the morning. At the same time, making sure that you always have something healthy to reach for. My meal-prep friendly breakfasts of choice are chia pudding and overnight oats!
I tend to go for these options because they are incredibly easy to make. They also keep well in the fridge and are perfect to bring with you on the go. All you have to do in the morning is top them off with some fresh fruit, throw on a lid and head out the door.
Chia seeds are full of fiber, protein, and healthy fats making them the perfect breakfast food! Simply add all of the ingredients into a bowl, give it a quick whisk and transfer it into the fridge to let it sit for a few hours or overnight. Then you have delicious chia pudding for the rest of the week! See my full chia pudding parfait recipe here.
Another easy, yet delicious option for your breakfast jar. Again, you will add all of the ingredients into the bowl, give it a good mix and then transfer it to the fridge to set. I love that you don’t even have to worry about cooking your oats, which will save you even more time and hassle in the kitchen! Allowing them to soak overnight makes the oats perfectly soft and flavourful. They taste even more amazing the next morning!
Basic Overnight Oats
Another easy, yet delicious option for your breakfast jar.
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 12 hrs
Total Time: 12 hrs 5 mins
- 1 Cup Old fashioned oats
- 1 Cup unsweetened oat or nut milk
- 1/4 Cup yogurt of your choice
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Add all of the ingredients into the bowl
Give it a good mix
Transfer it to the fridge to set
Allowing them to soak overnight makes the oats perfectly soft and flavourful and they taste amazing the next morning!
2. Smoothie Cubes
You guys know I am the Queen of Green Smoothies, which is why this hack is one of my favourites! If you struggle to find time in the morning to blend one up, I recommend making your smoothie the night before. Or even during the rest of your meal prep, and freezing it into cubes. Then in the morning simply pop the cubes into a jar and top with water, milk or whatever liquid you like. Allow it to thaw as you’re getting ready or during your commute.
When you’re ready to enjoy, give the jar a good shake, throw in a reusable straw and sip away! This is such a simple way to enjoy a healthy breakfast smoothie on the go – no blending required! This is an extra bonus if you don’t want to wake anyone else up. The smoothie in the photo above is my Blueberry Basil Smoothie from The HealthNut Cookbook – it is so delicious and refreshing in the morning!
3. Toaster Pancakes
Swap out your beloved Eggo waffles for this healthier alternative! The next time you make pancakes, set aside some extras (if you can) to throw in the freezer and have as a quick and easy breakfast option throughout the week. The morning of, pop them into your toaster and allow them to get nice and crispy. To make these hand-friendly when you’re on the go, simply slather on some nut or seed butter, sliced banana and a sprinkle of hemp or chia seeds, and eat one like you would a piece of toast! Then all of your dreams of having a pancake breakfast on a busy weekday morning will come true! Some fan-favourite HealthNut pancake recipes to try this with are my Fluffy Yogurt Pancakes, Five Ingredient Banana Oat Pancakes, and all-time fave: The Best Gluten-Free Fluffy Pancakes!
4. Salad Mason Jar
I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’re seeing a salad mason jar, but it remains a favourite meal prep hack for good reason! They’re convenient, versatile and make for a perfect grab and go lunch that doesn’t even require an extra bowl (meal prep goals)! All you will need is a wide mouth mason jar and a leak-proof lid! The trick to perfecting this salad is to layer your ingredients in the right order:
Layer 1: Start by pouring in your salad dressing in the bottom.
Layer 2: Next, add in the firm fruits or vegetables that won’t get soggy from the dressing. I used: cucumber, cherry tomatoes, sweet bell pepper, and red onion.
Layer 3: Add in your choice of protein. I used chickpeas and cooked quinoa, but you could also use chicken or tofu here.
Layer 4: Finally add in the greens. I used fresh arugula, but you could also use spinach, mixed greens or romaine.
Then simply pop on the lid and they’re good to go!
When you’re ready to eat it, give it a good shake to mix all of the salad ingredients and enjoy right out of the jar! I love this hack because you can meal prep a couple of these jars at a time, stick them in the fridge and your salad will stay fresh throughout the week.
5 . Soggy Free Sandwich
When it comes to sandwiches, one of the biggest challenges is knowing how to make it taste just as good at lunch as it was when you first assembled it. To prevent the dreaded soggy sandwiches, here are some tips that I recommend! First thing you want to do is toast your bread and spread it with some beet hummus to create a moisture barrier. You can use other alternatives such as cream cheese, ghee, mustard, mayo, etc. Then add the rest of your sandwich ingredients and top it off with another slice of toasted and slathered bread. Check out my Rainbow Stacked Veggie Sandwich recipe for more delicious ideas of what to put on your sandwich! Throw it in a silicone reusable storage bag and you have a delicious sandwich that won’t go soggy by lunchtime!
6. Use Bento Boxes
Bento boxes are the perfect lunch bag accessory to compartmentalize your food and keep it fresh throughout the day! You can fill each stackable section with whatever foods you like and then simply store it in your bag without having to worry about it spilling. This bento box is packed with simple quinoa and chickpea salad on the bottom layer, some fresh grapes in the middle, and topped it off with some baby carrots and hummus for a well-rounded and healthy lunch. Pop the lid on and it’s ready to go! Click here to shop our 3 Layer Stacked Bento Boxes on the HealthNut Shop!
7. Veggie/Fruit Dip Jars
Make your on-the-go snacking easy with these little veggie and fruit dip jars! They’re fun, versatile and they fit perfectly in your purse or lunch bag. When it comes to snacking, I know everyone has different preferences, which is why I wanted to give you both a sweet and savoury option! In the first jar, I added in a layer of hummus with fresh carrots and celery sticks, and the second jar is filled with creamy almond butter, sliced apples, and celery sticks. I also cut the apples with a ceramic knife and drizzle each slice with fresh lemon juice to prevent it from browning as quickly. When you’re ready to snack, simply pull out your pre-dipped fruit or veggie sticks and enjoy! Of course, you can also customize your jar with whatever fruits, veggies, and dips that you like – the options are endless! Pro tip: these wide mouth mason jars & leak-proof lids make meal prepping extra easy!
8. Freezer Baked Goods
Growing up, my mom would always pre-bake a bunch of homemade goodies and then throw them into the freezer. Back then I never really understood why, but fast forward a few years and it’s a meal prepping hack that I use all the time and now recommending to you! The morning of, simply take your baked goods out of the freezer, pop it into your container and then by lunchtime it will have thawed out and will be ready to enjoy! The best part is about this hack is that you can do a bunch of pre-baking without worrying about wasting food if it goes bad because let’s be honest, homemade treats just don’t last as long as the store-bought ones. These jumbo-sized reusable silicone storage bags are really handy for freezing baked goods.
There you have it, 8 time-saving meal prep hacks to prepare you for back-to-school season! Let me know in the comments below which one was your favourite, or even better tell me a new one that I should try!
If you liked these back to school meal prep hacks, check out my 7 Meal Prep Hacks and Food Waste Hacks blog posts as well!
If you use any of these school meal prep hacks, be sure to share a photo on social media and tag me @healthnutnutrition and #healthnuteats so that I can see your creations!