So what is meal prep? Meal prep can mean different things to different people. What is important is that you find a routine that works for you! Essentially, it should save you time in the kitchen and make it easier for you to eat healthier during the week.
When it comes to healthy eating, preparation is the key to success. Meal preppers love to quote “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” By planning and prepping, you can help prevent making not so healthy food choices during the busy week. And, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be amazed how much time and money you might save. Luckily, planning and preparing your meals ahead of time will make healthy choices a no-brainer.
Invest in Food Storage Containers:
You will definitely need to do is invest in some storage containers. They can be tupperware or the glass variety. Keep in mind that if you are going to be reheating your food in these you want to choose ones that are BPA free and that won’t fall apart in the microwave/oven. If you are going to be prepping for a few days in a row, it can be a good idea to buy containers that are the same sizes so they can be easily stacked in your fridge. You might also want to think about getting an insulated bag to carry your meals everywhere you go.
Have a meal plan:
Make a list of your favorite foods, choose simple recipes that can be made quickly or in bulk, and decide what you’ll eat. This step will get easier and faster with practice. Plan your dinners first. Don’t forget about leftovers! Depending on the size of your family, many recipes can feed a family twice (or provide some lunches)! I’m all about cooking once and eating twice. You may also want to make things easier on yourself by designating certain days of the week for certain types of meals. You could have Taco Tuesday, and so on.
Tip: I wirte my menu in two places on my fridge so my family can see our weekly dinner menu, and in my planner so we can go back and see what we had in weeks past for ideas.
Make a grocery list and stick to it:
Once you have made your meal plan you will know what you need from the store. Stick to it. Don’t let junk sneak into your shopping cart. Not having it in the house means not having to use your willpower to avoid it. By sticking to your list and by minimizing the impulse buys, you’ll help yourself save money and some unwanted pounds.
Keep Things Simple:
When you’re planning everything for the week, it’s important to keep things simple. Save time by choosing snacks that don’t require a lot of time to put together. Fresh fruit, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, and pre-cut veggies. Tuna or rotisserie chicken is an easy protein to add to salads or snacks.
When you get home from grocery shopping wash raw vegetables and fruits right away. Cut veggies in bulk ahead of time to avoid wasting precious minutes chopping on busy weeknights. Chopped vegetables like carrots, onion and pepper will last a week when refrigerated properly in a sealed plastic bag or tupperware.
If you like your vegetables freshly cooked, then you have them already portioned out for each meal and ready to be steamed or cooked. After you wash all fruit and portion the nuts that you will be using as snacks, so that you can easily eat them on the run.
Cook what you can ahead of time:
The point of meal prep is to make life easier for you during the week, this doesn’t mean you have to pre cook ALL of your food though! For example, you can marinate your chicken breasts, place them in the freezer, and defrost when you’re ready to use them.
Roasting vegetables, sweet potatoes, and even chicken breasts all at once will save you time. Imagine all of your side dishes and quick lunches for the week.
Tip: I will usually boil eggs, cook up some ground turkey, grill some chicken for quick lunch protein sources.
I hope you have a little more understanding of what meal prep means and, more importantly, how to do it! Remember to only do what feels comfortable for you and make sure it suits your lifestyle. A little bit of meal prep is still better than none at all. Even if that is just chopping up a few veggies or grouping things in containers, you will feel so much better about cooking your food if you have it organized ready to go!