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In order to make meal prepping as efficient as possible, it’s a good idea to have your pantry and freezer already stocked. This will help make your grocery trips each week quicker and cheaper. You will only need to shop for fresh ingredients each week, because you will already have your shelf-stable ingredients stocked up at home. Check out this list of basic pantry and freezer foods to have on hand!

Overnight oats are popular to meal prep, so lets consider how a typical recipe could break down peanut-butter-3216263_1920using shelf-stable and freezer food items. Overnight oats typically utilize oats, milk/yogurt, fruit, and maybe nut butter or honey. Four of these ingredients can be shelf-stable, so you can stock your pantry with them: oats, fruit (canned), nut butter, and honey. In addition to stocking your pantry, you can also stock your freezer with frozen fruit, which can be added to your overnight oats, if you don’t prefer canned fruit. As a result, you will only need to buy fresh milk/yogurt to make your overnight oats for the week!

Having a well prepared freezer can allow you to maintain a healthy diet even on those weeks that you might not have time to get to the grocery store. You can either buy already frozen food items, like fruits and vegetables, or you can cut your own fresh, in-season produce and freeze it. Freezing your own produce may save you some dollars in the long run. Keeping a variety of frozen chopped vegetables helps to ensure that you can add a quick veggie to each of your meals. Not only do veggies make good sides for well-balanced meals, but they are great additions to the main course as well. One of my go-to quick meals is a veggie omelet that only requires having fresh eggs on hand.

In addition to frozen vegetables, having frozen fruit on hand can be great for quick and easy smoothies. In a pinch, you can throw together frozen fruit, frozen spinach (or other veggies, like carrots) into a blender with some water or milk, and yogurt for a quick, nutritious snack. You can also plan ahead and meal prep some pre-portioned smoothie packets to have in your freezer that you can just dump in your blender and go!raspberries-2897386_1920.jpg

Having a fully stocked pantry and freezer can save you time and money as you get started with meal prepping. Prepping pre-portioned meals and snacks can make for an easy, convenient, and healthy week ahead, so it is well worth it, in my opinion. My husband and I do this every week, and we love it, especially now that we are able to utilize our freezer and pantry more. One more tip we have learned is that you can save some of your properly frozen, meal prepped food to add variety to your menus for future weeks without any extra time or hassle. Happy prepping!

Written By: Amy Meehan, MPH, Healthy People Program Specialist, The Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences

Reviewed By:  Misty Harmon, MS, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State Univeristy Extension, Perry County.

Sources:

https://food.unl.edu/basic-foods-cupboard-fridge-and-freezer

http://livesmartohio.osu.edu/food/bohlen-19osu-edu/overnight-oatmeal-to-the-rescue/

https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5341

http://extension.uga.edu/programs-services/school-garden-resources/classroom-cookbook/smoothies.html

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