We are talking about one-minute meal prep (yes, you can meal-prep one-minute!) in this episode from our three-part series all about focusing on how you want to feel related to eating.

We’ll go over what it looks like, why you’ll want to do it, and exactly how to implement it in the context of your very real life.

Tune in or read the transcript to simplify your meal prep routine and feel good about your meals!

here’s a glance at this episode

  • [02:23] Learn how to feel-good-effect your meal prep routine. Starting with thinking about how you feel now and how you want to feel. 
  • [05:04] Explore how to close the gap between how you feel and how you want to feel in a compassionate way.
  • [07:02] Robyn breaks down what one-minute meal prep is and how it could be helpful for you.
  • Get all these one-minute meal prep ideas for things you cook most often, including:
    • [10:33] Grains
    • [13:25] Veggies
    • [15:10] Protein
    • [16:52] Sauces & Dressings
    • [18:25] Soups

recipes mentioned in this episode:

more episodes on meal planning

light blue background with navy text that reads one minute meal prep

read the transcript

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:01)

You’re listening to the feel-good effect. We’re talking one-minute meal prep. Let’s Make it happen.

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:09)

Radically simple and ridiculously doable. The feel-good effect will help you redefine wellness on your terms. Hi, I’m your host, Robyn Conley Downs. And I believe that wellness isn’t about achieving another set of impossible standards, but instead finding what works for you, drawing from cutting edge science on mindfulness habits and behavior change. This podcast offers a collection of small mindset shifts that allow for more calm, clarity, and joy in everyday life and allows you to embrace the idea that gentle is the new perfect. I invite you to listen in, as we cut through the clutter and find the small shifts that create huge changes in your life. Less striving, more ease. It’s time to feel good.

Robyn Conley Downs: (00:58)

Well, Hey, feel good, fam. I am so glad you’re here. We are talking about one minute meal prep today. So what that is, why you’d want to do it and exactly how to make it happen in your very real life. This is part of a three part capsule, all about meals and focusing on how you feel related to how you’re eating. And so much of that is about having the right food on hand, right? It’s about planning, prepping. And so many times that planning, prepping part is over complicated and on our to-do list, not our good list. And so we are taking a little time here, uh, in this capsule to uncomplicate it, to simplify it and to give you some ideas because you don’t have to do it the way that it’s typically taught, and you don’t have to do everything that we’re suggesting in this episode or last week’s episode with Cassy or next week’s, it’s really about taking what you need, leaving what you don’t and customizing everything so that you are able to feel good right now. If this episode is helpful to you, you can spread a little internet love by leaving positive reviews for the podcast or the book, or for a recipe and turning this episode of as someone who needs to feel good when it comes to food and meals.

Robyn Conley Downs: (02:23)

All right, let’s talk one minute meal prep. And I’m going to start in a place where most people do not. When they’re talking about meal planning and meal prep, and that is to start with the feel-good effect questions. So if you have my book The Feel Good Effect, then you know what this question is. And the question is, how do you feel and how do you want to feel? So when you start from that place of “how do you feel and how do you want to feel?”, puts all of this effort and these decisions in the work around eating well and feeling good into context. So it’s like that question of why are you doing it? I think “why’s”, the Simon Sinek’s work on, on asking “why?” is really important and there’s nothing wrong with asking why, but I think putting it in the context of how you feel, especially when we’re talking about meals, movement in mind, really like centers you on, on that purpose and how it connects to your daily life.

Robyn Conley Downs: (03:15)

So that’s all I want you to do is step one is when you, when you think about how you’re eating, when you think about, um, meals, mealtime meal prep, whether you are in a family where the, you live with other people, whether you live alone, like how do you feel about the process and, and how do you feel about what you’re eating right now? And then I like actually write down some words, how do you feel about how you’re eating and, and your process of prep and planning, and then how do you want to feel? So write some words down there. And then the next step is find the gap. Like what’s the gap between those two, maybe there’s none. Maybe you are really, really, you feel really like grounded and energized by the way that you do meal prep and planning and the way that you eat, or maybe there’s a big gap.

Robyn Conley Downs: (04:08)

And so it’s not about judging yourself, right? This is not an opportunity to make yourself feel bad or beat yourself up. Here’s where we bring in self-compassion, that’s part of the feel-good effect as well. Like treat yourself with kindness, know that this is not easy. And I think that that’s one of my biggest pet peeves about talking about meal prep and planning and acting like it’s so simple. It’s not, it’s like another use of your brain and your precious energy. We talk about decision fatigue. All the time, decision fatigue is real. It depletes your energy and willpower. And there are hundreds of decisions that go into prep and planning not to mention it’s executive function skills. So it’s a very specific type of thinking. Some of us really struggled with it more than others. If you’re somebody who has like a different kind of brain and you think a little bit differently, executive function might be really tough.

Robyn Conley Downs: (05:04)

So when someone says, oh, you just plan it. So we see it might not be easy for you. So we invite in self-compassion. We also have so many resources. We have feel-good effect coaches who coach on how to close the gap. Um, but you can also work on this for yourself. So how do you feel, how do you want to feel when it comes to meal prep, planning, when it comes to how you’re eating and then what is the gap and understand that one minute meal prep is just one way to close the gap. So if that’s the only thing you get out of this episode, how do you feel? How do you want to feel? Can you close the gap? Is a one minute meal prep a way to close the gap to get you from how you feel now to how you want to feel?

Robyn Conley Downs: (05:40)

So when you are thinking about whether you want to do this, or you want to spend your precious time and energy on like a few minutes of meal prep, you can remember like, oh, this is a gap closing activity. This is getting me from how I feel now to how I want to feel. It puts it in that context, it gives it some more, some more purpose and it takes off of the should list and puts it on the good list. Because when it’s on the should list, just another thing, we have to do another form of productivity, another way that we work all the time and we take care of others, and then we’re supposed to somehow add this on top. It’s not going to happen, but when we bring it in and put it on the good list, and we remember like, this is how I want to feel, this is closing the gap.

Robyn Conley Downs: (06:18)

It really changes things. So good. What is it anyway? Right. So, you know how you do, I feel, how do I want to feel? You know, there’s probably some gap that you want to close. So let’s use one minute meal prep as a tool. So last week we talked with Cassy Joy Garcia about her book Cook Once Dinner Fix, definitely recommend listening to that episode. She has some great ideas around a meal, prep and meal planning. There’s so many ways to do this. So one minute meal prep is an option, like a tool out of the toolbox that you could use to close the gap. You don’t have to use it. If it doesn’t work for you, there are so many ways to do this, but this is another option. It’s pretty similar to what we talk about next week. It’s a little more, I think it’s a little bit simpler and a little more doable.

Robyn Conley Downs: (07:02)

So both are good. So one minute real meal prep is really using a very small pocket of time to do one simple action that will help you when it comes to eating well, when it comes to having food already prepared. So it’s basically the opposite of the spend four to six hours on a Sunday, preparing every meal and having your fridge like fully prepared, all the meals done for you. That is a great method. That is never something I do and never something I want to do. So this is the complete opposite, which is spending like 1, 2, 3, 4 extra minutes to prepare like one thing that then you can use throughout the week. So we’ll talk about some examples of that, but here’s why it can be really helpful. One, it gets you out of the all or nothing mentality when it comes to meal prep.

Robyn Conley Downs: (07:54)

So if you don’t want to meal prep for four or five or six hours on a weekend, then you might think, well, I can’t do it. Right. That’s all or nothing thinking, we talk a lot about that here. It’s in my book. It’s one of the things that holds people back from wellness, from feeling good to feeling happy. Honestly, it’s like scientifically shown to just cause all these problems where we think, oh, well, if I can’t do it all in, then I’m going to be all out. Well, there’s definitely something in between. So one minute meal prep is helpful. Just getting you out of all or nothing thinking. But from a practical perspective, it actually works because if you open your fridge and there’s food already prepared, you’re way more likely to eat that than to do take out or drive through. And I’m always going to tell you there’s nothing wrong with those things, but if you want it to be like changing the way you eat towards a more real food focused way of eating, having things already prepared is going to help you do that.

Robyn Conley Downs: (08:49)

And you’re controlling the ingredients you’re controlling what goes into it. And ultimately that often for people connects to feeling good. It’s something. When I think about my journey, it’s one of those words that people either like or down, but my journey from not taking care of myself to overworking, to, if you’ve read my book, chapter one, to being at the bottom of the list, feeling terrible all the time to eating terribly, all of those things, like one of the biggest differences was how I was eating in one of the biggest ways that I changed, how I was eating was having things prepared. And it was through this method, not a very complicated method. Cause really when I started this, I was working a 60 hour week job, was in school full-time and had a baby. So I was not going to give up my one day off to meal prep, but I would do these one minute meal prep kind of actions.

Robyn Conley Downs: (09:44)

And it helped me completely reframe what it meant to eat well and, and also reframe how much time it took. So again, the simple definition of one minute meal prep is just to take either no time at all, but double a recipe, which I’ll talk about here in a second, like a basic recipe, or take a few minutes, a little pocket of time when you’re already in the kitchen to prepare one small thing that then that adds up over time. So let me give you some example, some examples, I’m going to talk about one minute meal prep when it comes to greens, veggies, protein, sauces, and dressings, and then soup. So if you’ve been with me a long time, I teach the essential six where, which were, which are the components of meals. And I’ve talked in the past about how you take those components and combine them, same concept, but I’m not going that route today.

Robyn Conley Downs: (10:33)

I’m just keeping it super, super simple. And we’re going to just talk about each component separately. So let’s talk about grains. Even if you don’t eat grains, you could apply this to, um, like non-grain bases, such as cauliflower, rice, or spaghetti squash or any of those other types of bases that we use for any meal. Right? So if you’re someone that eats rice, when you’re cooking rice, one minute meal prep is make double and this may sound obvious, but I wonder if you’re actually doing it. So you, you make double the amount you store the leftovers in. You know, I’m going to say Mason jars, um, did you know that you can freeze cooked grains? So you could do like several Mason jars of cooked, whether it’s brown rice, white rice, quinoa, you could put those in your freezer. So they’re there the next time that you need any kind of vase or grain, and then the next meal that you need rice or a side or a base it’s cooked, that’s it, that’s all you need to know, but it’s amazing how many people don’t take advantage of this opportunity to make double, to freeze it.

Robyn Conley Downs: (11:42)

You literally, if that’s all you did in some weeks, this is all I do on a Sunday. I will throw two cups of brown rice in my instant pot with two cups of water, seal it, 18 natural release. And then I get, I have four cups of brown rice and I will just put that in individual containers, Mason jars in the fridge. And throughout the week when we have something that would go with rice, it’s already made. And I only got, I got the instant pot dirty one time versus multiple nights, but also that part’s already done. So I’m still gonna cook dinner, but the extra piece, the two cooking, two different things is art is off the table because one of them’s already done. It also gives me options if you have different eating styles. So for example, some nights I might choose not to have rice with dinner, but my daughter Elle always wants to have rice with dinner.

Robyn Conley Downs: (12:34)

So I’m not cooking like all of these different versions of dinner, because I know that that’s always an option for her. So in my instant pot, brown rice example, that’s something I would do potentially just on an afternoon where I’m at home, we’re doing something else, but I’m going to throw that in. And that’s my one minute. It really took me maybe a minute to three minutes to get it going. And that’s it. That’s all I do for meal prep for the week. I would also do that any other time during the week that I was going to be making rice or this holds true for pasta, this holds true for, like I said, quinoa this could work. If you are doing baked potatoes, any kind of starchy base or side you could do and then put it in the fridge and it’s done, and that is literally it.

Robyn Conley Downs: (13:25)

And then you just serve it with whatever you were going to make during the week. So I always try to talk about grains first. I feel like it’s the easiest, it’s the one that you’re probably already making at some point in the week. So you could either do this separately or during your normal cook time, just double the double, the amount that you were going to make. And so we just apply the same concept to all the other categories. So when it comes to veggies, I know that some people like cutting all their veggies up again, the whole like Instagram meal prep thing, where you cut all the vegetables up for the week, if that works for you, amazing. I have not found myself great success for that with investing the time there. What I do often is I will roast if I’m roasting a vegetable, I will roast.

Robyn Conley Downs: (14:11)

If your oven’s big enough, multiple pans at one time, or just keep the oven on and keep roasting. So let’s say you were going to do a roasted broccoli one night, just make two pans of roasted broccoli. Or if you were going to do roasted cauliflower, make two pans of roasted cauliflower. It’s not rocket science. It’s so simple, but just something we often forget to do. So you could do that while you’re already cooking or, um, on its own. So again, sometimes on a Sunday I might do, I might get the brown rice going, and then I might serve roasted vegetables with our Sunday dinner. And I’ll make like a triple batch of roasted carrots, roasted sweet potatoes, maybe throw some onions on there, maybe some butternut squash that’s a very fall feel. Um, but you could do basically anything cauliflower broccoli, and I’ll do two to three sheet pans.

Robyn Conley Downs: (15:10)

I’ll serve some with dinner and then I’ll have like three to four to five Mason jars first and veggies in the fridge. Now, if I’ve done those two things, the grains and a couple of veggies. Now, all of a sudden, when I look in my fridge, I have, you know, some brown rice and I’ve got some roasted veggies right away. I have basically a full lunch for me through the week. So I’m going to do maybe a rice bowl with some roasted veggies, and then we’ll get to the protein in a second, but you can use these as sides for your dinner as you can also put them together for lunches. The next step is protein. So you know where I’m going with this. So if you’re making, I have like so many amazing shredded chicken slow-cooker recipes on the site. Often I will do a double batch of one of those on a weekend or even on weeknight.

Robyn Conley Downs: (15:59)

And then I have leftover shredded chicken for the week. So 100% I could repurpose that into another meal, like into tacos, into a bowl, into pasta, into a casserole, or I could just use it for lunch, which is often what I do. So I’ll have no, I have like a pretty awesome bowls situation going on. I’ve got some grains, I got some veggies. I brought some protein. Um, you could do this with, uh, as a vegetarian option. I will often cook a big pot of lentils and just plain. And then, uh, I will use those for salads. I’ll throw those in the soups. So these built there, these building blocks for sides, or to add additional protein or for lunch that you can use and combine throughout the week without spending a ton of time sauces and dressings are another place that you can, one minute meal prep.

Robyn Conley Downs: (16:52)

And if you like to make bread, you’d see probably like at any given point three to four different sauces. If I’m making a sauce for dinner, I’ll double it so that I have leftover. And if I don’t use it, I’ll freeze it. And so the freezer here can be a super helpful tool for you, especially if you’re cooking for two or just one, and you don’t want to be eating that rice every single day, throw it in the freezer, pull it back out, and you can have variety. Like you could really do one minute minute meal prep as a single person and fill your freezer with these different things and be pulling them out and be eating such a variety and not feel like you’re eating the same thing all the time. I’m starting to build out the sauces and dressing section of www.realfoodwholelife.com by popular request.

Robyn Conley Downs: (17:38)

I am such a fan of sauces and dressings, and I think you could literally just make one or two sauces as your one minute meal prep and you’d be good. Um, you know, make some lentils or get some chicken shredded chicken, and you’re you’re well on your way to like eating really well and having variety without, with very little effort. Um, so you can check out on www.realfoodwholelife.com for all of the recipes I’ve mentioned. Okay last step in our one minute meal prep. So we’ve talked about, just thinking about the categories. So we’ve talked about grains, we’ve talked about veggies, we’ve talked about protein, we’ve talked about sauces and dressings. So I would not recommend that. You’re like, okay, now I have to prep. All of those things I’m asking you to think about when you have a little pocket of time, can you do one of those things?

Robyn Conley Downs: (18:25)

And over the week you would actually be able to touch on quite a few or while you’re already cooking. Can you add this in or double something, one more protein that’s obvious, uh, that I didn’t mention is, is eggs. Hard-boiled eggs, not everyone eats eggs, but I do have like a one minute hard-boiled egg on www.realfoodwholelife.com in the instant pot, instant pot. If you haven’t tried, it does hard boiled eggs really well. They come out perfectly every time and the shells, like slip right off. So you don’t have to deal with like the peeling thing. That’s a great one for protein as well. So let’s talk soups if you haven’t checked it out yet, www.realfoodwholelife.com. We have a incredible slow cooker soups roundup of like, I don’t know, 30 soups that are made with real food ingredients that are dairy and gluten free naturally that, um, most of them freeze well and that make a big batch so that you can have leftovers.

Robyn Conley Downs: (19:24)

So I would definitely recommend to grab that. We’ll put the link in the show notes and I actually put together a free download, a free ebook that has all links to every single recipe by, um, vegetarian and vegan soups, chicken soups, and, uh, Turkey and beef soups. Because I think that soup is, is like the missing key for so many people in terms of cutting out unnecessary additives and like ingredients that you don’t want to necessarily be eating all the time. It’s a really great way to get so many vegetables into your diet, especially if you’re not someone who, if you’re someone who doesn’t love vegetables, it’s like eating a salad without knowing that you’re eating a salad. And it’s just the best for grabbing out of the fridge. When I used to work outside of the house, that was what I did is I would make these, I would make a big batch of soup.

Robyn Conley Downs: (20:19)

We’d have soup night and then I’d have them in Mason jars. I’m such, I will never stop talking about Mason jars because the lid screws on. And I can’t tell you how many times when I would work outside the house, I’d put something in my bag and it would leak everywhere. And the Mason jar was only thing that I could get that wouldn’t leak soup all over my bag. So my love goes way back. And then I put soup into the one minute meal prep category, not soup does not take minute to make, I’ll give you that, but if you’re making it already for a meal, like as part of our capsule meal plan, our fall capsule is also live. I haven’t mentioned that yet. So we do soup night on Thursday nights. And so we always have some extra. And if I will either eat that for lunch, or hopefully Ellie want some for lunch and I’ll freeze at least one or two portions.

Robyn Conley Downs: (21:11)

So if you open up my freezer, you’ll see like literally six or seven different soups in ready to go, you know, individual portions in Mason jars. So I’m not eating the same thing every day. And I do count soup in one minute meal prep because I’m already making it as a meal. And so whatever comes out of it, the leftover didn’t take me any extra time, any extra cleanup, but it allows me to eat well either another night of the week or for lunch. Um, I’m such a fan and that’s why we went to the effort to put together that free resource of our favorite soups. You can make them in a slow cooker. That’s my preference just because I work all day and I’ve got kid and all the things, but you can definitely make them on the stove top and in the instant pot.

Robyn Conley Downs: (21:57)

So grab that at www.realfoodwholelife.com under soups and stews. Also it’s in the show notes. And literally if you’re single, I hear from people all the time. Like I can’t do this because I’m cooking for one person. I get that and I’ve done it myself. And also Andrew and I were married 10 some plus years before Elle was born. So I cooked for the two of us for a very long time. And I totally hear what you’re saying. And I would also challenge you on this like one minute meal prep thing that you could take these individual things that you’ve cooked, freeze them. If you don’t have room for Mason jars, you could definitely use Ziploc bags or you know, Silicon re resealable bags. And then when you look in your freezer, you have these options. You’re not eating the same thing over and over.

Robyn Conley Downs: (22:50)

And when you make like a soup that has four to six servings, eat it for dinner, maybe eat it for lunch one time that week, and then take the other four portions, freeze them. And then you, you basically won’t have, you’ll have like whole week three. You don’t have to cook. So it’s like more than one minute meal prep for you. It’s basically zero minute meal prep. So that’s it. That’s how to one minute meal prep definitely first ask, how do you feel and how do you want to feel? And what’s the gap. And then remember that this one minute real meal prep will help you close the gaps. So that’s why it’s worth doing, um, remember why, why it can be helpful. And then I would say, just start with one, whether you want to think about grains, veggies, protein sauces, and dressings, or soup, maybe pick one thing this week to either double while you’re already cooking or make in a small pocket of time, put it in your fridge.

Robyn Conley Downs: (23:40)

You don’t have to use Mason jars. You can use any other food storage that you want to, and then just see how that changes things for you when you, when you’re making dinner another night, or when you’re thinking like, Ugh, I don’t feel like cooking tonight. And you’re able to kind of put something together that’s fresh and new, but that’s already been made. And how that changes, how you feel that you didn’t, you know, that you didn’t have to cook or that you didn’t have to go grab something from the drive-through or take out when you didn’t, if you didn’t want to be eating that that night and just see how that changes, how you feel, because once you get that reinforcement and that success, it’s so much easier to do, it’s a lot of times getting over that initial hurdle. So that’s it for our one minute meal prep. I hope this was helpful. Again, we always appreciate those positive reviews, whether it’s on a recipe on the, for the podcast or on the book and share this with someone that, you know, needs this, you know, really simple, feel good information in their life as always, you can connect with me on Instagram @realfoodwholelife. Thanks again so much for listening, for being part of this conversation about what it really means to be healthy and part of this feel-good movement. Thanks again for listening until next time here’s to feeling good.

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