More meal prep secrets + a black bean burger you’ll love

This year, the theme for National Nutrition Month is “going further with food”. This might mean choosing foods that nourish and sustain your body longer, or it could reference the potential smart meal prep and planning has in setting you up for dietary success. Nick Patterson, RD, CD, Parkview Regional Medical Center, shares a few pointers to support both ideas, including his go-to burger recipe.  

As we’ve discussed throughout the month of March, meal prepping can help save you valuable time and money, while also setting you up to make healthier food choices. Whether you have never practiced meal prepping or you’re just working on sharpening your skills, this article will help fine-tune your food preparation routine for the week.


Nick’s Tips for Meal Prep Perfection

  • Map it out.  Plan your recipes for the week and determine the number of servings you’ll need to last you throughout the week. Make your grocery list accordingly and stick to it at the store.
  • Break up your efforts.  Trying to prepare all your food in one day can be overwhelming. While this may work for some, others may prefer to prep meals on two days of the week, such as Sunday and Wednesday.
  • Keep it simple. Opt for quick and easy recipes during the week or on busy weekends. Save more complicated and time-consuming recipes for special occasions or when you have extra time to spend in the kitchen.
  • Chop, chop.  Remember, not all food prep involves cooking. Cutting up and portioning out fresh fruit and vegetables into individual baggies or containers is a quick and easy way to get in a healthy snack or side.
  • Snack attack.  Keep snacks simple, with options like individual cups of Greek yogurt, pre-cut veggies with hummus, or hard-boiled eggs.
  • Divide and conquer.  Use reusable containers with divided sections for easy portioning. This is also a convenient way to cut back on the number of dishes you have to wash throughout the week.
  • Freeze.  Determine which foods/meals keep well in the freezer. Some recipes may be better enjoyed freshly cooked. Once you figure out which meals you and your family enjoy, you may want to consider cooking batches that can last two weeks and even longer! Just freeze all leftovers and thaw as needed.

A key part of a well-balanced diet is including a protein source with most meals. Lean meats, such as chicken breasts are good high-protein options, but if you are looking to mix things up with a meatless option, give this black bean burger recipe a try. Not only are black beans a good source of protein, they also provide complex carbohydrates with plenty of fiber.


Homemade Black Bean Burgers

1 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed               
½ green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces  
½ onion, cut into wedges                                                            
3 cloves garlic, peeled 
1 tablespoon chili powder                                             
1 egg                                                             
1 tablespoon cumin  
1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce  
½ cup bread crumbs

  1. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork into a thick paste.
  3. Finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic using a knife or a food processor
  4. Then stir into mashed beans.
  5. In a bowl, stir together egg, cumin, chili powder and chili sauce.
  6. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
  7. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.

Serves 4

[Nutrition facts per serving (one patty): 198 calories; 3 g fat; 33.1 g carbohydrates; 11.2 g protein; 607 mg sodium.]

Adapted from a recipe featured on

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