When it comes to food prep, Giada De Laurentiis knows her stuff (are you surprised?). Her smart strategy: By spending a few hours prepping ahead of time on Sunday, the celebrity chef is able to whip up easy, healthy meals all week long. The key, she says, is focusing on basic but versatile ingredients.

"If I'm around on a Sunday, I cook off two, sometimes three, grains, and I keep them plain," she says. "You do not put any seasoning on it, you don't put olive oil, you don't put butter—and let them cool in containers."

She repeats this process with vegetables ("my daughter's favorites are green beans and broccoli") by blanching them in a little salt and water. Next, she preps a protein: One of her go-tos is chicken thighs, which she'll cook with a little olive oil and dry herbs in a hot 400-degree oven, "so it gets a nice crispy crust."

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During the week, these ingredients become the base for easy, healthy meals that require minimal thought or preparation. "I can take the chicken and reheat it with the broccoli," she explains. "Or I can put it in a sandwich with a little bit of mayonnaise. Or I can do it with brown rice and put it over salad."

Once you have a grain, vegetable, and protein on-hand, the options are endless: "You can mix and match and re-create meals left and right," she says. "When you have the basics to work with, it doesn't become daunting!"

Want more great cooking tips from Giada? Sign up for the 30-Day No Takeout Challenge with Health and Giada De Laurentiis. You'll get a month's worth of easy-to-make weekday recipes, plus downloadable shopping lists, daily email reminders, and exclusive tips from Giada.