Rachel Mansfield's 3 Meal-Prep Hacks For When You're Just Too Busy
We've all been there—finally coming home from a long trip or busy workday and opening the fridge to find a bunch of ingredients waiting to be chopped, roasted, or sautéed. Having zero energy to cook, you might order takeout or munch on some unsatisfying snacks.
According to recipe developer and cookbook author Rachel Mansfield, eating healthy, delicious meals is possible, even if you're on a time crunch or experiencing low energy. And you don't even have to break the bank on delivery fees—or break your healthy eating plan.
"I've never really fallen under a specific label or lifestyle. I'm not gluten-free. I'm not vegan. I'm not keto or paleo. But I love foods in all of those areas, and I just want to share recipes for anyone," she tells me on this episode of the mindbodygreen podcast.
What she is a big proponent of, however, is the culinary art that is meal prepping. As an entrepreneur and new mom, Mansfield is constantly being pulled in different directions, so she wants to guarantee that what she eats on the regular is going to be whole, healthy, and tasty.
Here's exactly how Mansfield meal preps in order to make sure she's eating nutritious food, no matter how much time she has during the day. Read on, and get organized.
Divide and conquer.
In order to maximize the amount of cooking time, Mansfield likes to do the grocery shopping one day and the actual food prep another. This way, one day isn't entirely devoted to meal prep, and you don't experience any meal prep burnout.
For her weekend meal prep, Mansfield shops for all the food on Saturdays, cooking the meals on Sundays. "It takes 30 to 40 minutes to get the groceries. It doesn't take that long," she explains. "And then Sunday, we just start cooking it."
Not only does Mansfield divvy up the weekend, but she also divides the cooking itself. "My husband and I used to cook together before our son, Ezra, was born, but now we take turns," she says. "One Sunday, he does a lot of the food prep, and the next Sunday, I do the food prep." Call it meal prep teamwork, if you will.
Make your simple staples.
"Just because I'm a recipe developer doesn't mean that I'm having these gourmet meals all day. I keep things really simple," Mansfield says.
In fact, she prefers the term "food prep" over "meal prep," as she likes to prepare simple staples—think lots of veggies and sources of protein—that she can mix and match in a variety of meals for the week. It gives her a lot of freedom to make whatever she's in the mood for that day (and sparks her creativity in the kitchen, no less).
An example: "One night if I wanted tacos, I can take the roasted chicken that we made on Sunday, put it on some tortillas, and add whatever toppings and have a taco," she says.
The freezer is your friend.
Mansfield is no stranger to frozen foods, especially during food prep. Even if she knows she's going out of town or won't finish a meal, she'll toss staples into the freezer that are just as yummy when reheated.
Her favorite treat to bake and throw in the freezer? Banana bread. According to Mansfield, this healthy baked good packs in so many nutrients while being accessible to everyone in her family—even her 1-year-old.
"I'm always making banana bread because it's something I bake that Ezra can eat, Jordan can eat, and I can eat." Does this mean we can make banana bread count as a superfood? (Here's hoping!)
Colleen Wachob is Co-Founder and Co-CEO at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Stanford University with degrees in international relations and Spanish, and spent 10 years working at Fortune 500 companies including Gap, Walmart, and Amazon. Wachob lives in Miami, Florida with her husband, mbg Founder and Co-CEO Jason Wachob and their two daughters, Ellie and Grace. Her first book, which is co-authored with mindbodygreen Founder Jason Wachob, The Joy of Well-Being, is being released on May 23, 2023.