Meal prepping is a great thing. Ether you are trying to work through a busy schedule, you want to follow a special diet, or you just want to make your meal time and cooking easier. That might seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn`t have to take a lot of time and not everything has to be perfectly prepared. It will get better and easier with every week.
When we are not prepared it can be easy to lose sight of our health and fitness goals. Meal planning and prepping is an excellent way to keep your nutrition goals in the right place. Learning more about meal prepping will help you make delicious meals for the whole week in an easy way.
The hottest food trend lately is meal prepping. It is a great way to save money, and time and reduces waste in the kitchen to a minimum. If you are someone who wants to start meal prepping, we have some information for you. We will help you figure out how and where to start and help you decide when to prepare all your favorite food.
When should you meal prep?
It is always best to start prepping early in the week, but that is not something that works for everyone. The best thing would be to just make sure that you don`t overwork yourself by trying to cook all meals at once. Meal prepping should never be something that will make you feel overwhelmed or tired. This might lead to not wanting to meal prep anymore.
For this to work, you need to find a time that is best for you to cook. For most people, Sundays work best because they are the closest to Mondays and your food will be fresh throughout the week. Additionally, it is the weekend so you have time off.
Even if you don`t have a lot of time on Sunday, you will need somewhere around two or three hours. Also, try to get the shopping out of the way or prep out a part of meals. That will still save you time during the week. If this is something that still won`t work, you can make your Monday night shopping and prep night.
If it is easier, you can slip up meal prep into Sunday and Wednesday night cooking fest.
Think about your schedule, things that you do the whole week, when can you eat your healthy meals, and meals that you might have somewhere else. For instance, you might need only breakfast and dinner if there is an office meeting with a team lunch. Maybe you are going on a business trip. In that case, you can think about meal prep when traveling or you can decide to prepare less for that week. Make sure to think about exactly how many days and meals during those days you need to prep in advance.
The right answer is to find days or days when meal prepping will be a fun activity for you, not a difficult responsibility. Just figure out your schedule, when you have time for shopping and cooking and it will be a success for sure.
Who should meal prep
Meal prep is not for everyone, but is good for people who like efficiency and convenience over variety. When you meal prep, you generally eat the same things for a few days, so If you don`t like leftovers, or you easily get bored with food, then meal prepping is not for you.
If you like having control over what you eat or you want to maximize your budget or time. Additionally, it is not important to eat differently every single day, then meal prepping is your ticket.
People usually meal prep for themselves or one more person. It is not impossible to meal prep for the whole family, but if there are picky eaters, it can be challenging. This is because it is easier to please one person than a few more and it would require a lot of containers.
Where to start
Firstly, we need to say that meal prep is the right choice for you if you want to stress less about mealtime, save time in the kitchen, or make healthy food choices. You should try it. However, this can go from preparing freezer smoothies for breakfast to cooking complete meals for the upcoming week.
Secondly, there is no right method to do meal prep. You need to choose the way that is best for you. In another word, find what works best for you. You don`t have to spend the whole day cooking. Half an hour of planning and a few hours of cooking are just enough. This will make your life easier and you will eat well during the whole week.
Further, you need to know that meal prepping is, simply said, the act of preparing meals or recipes and then portioning them to create grab-and-go meals for later. You already know how to do it if you ever tried packing leftovers and taking them for the lunch next day.
Simple steps to help you start
1. Find the method that works for you
Based on your schedule, meals that you want to prep ahead, and your cooking style, you might choose some of these meal-prep methods:
- Bach cooking or freezing – preparing multiple batches of a recipe. Make portions and freeze them for meals in the weeks to come. For instance, double the chili recipe or steam more rice to freeze and then use later(next three months)
- Make meals ahead – if you don`t have enough time to prepare meals during the week, cook complete meals in advance and reheat them at mealtimes.
- Portion meals individually – when you have specific health goals or you need grab-and-go meals you can prepare food and make portions into separate servings.
- Ingredients that are ready for cooking – for those who like to cook meals right before eating. Prep and chop everything you need. That way you will cut down on kitchen time.
2. Make your plan
When you know what type, or types of meal prep you want to use, spend some time creating a plan to help you organize. Write a menu and prep plan and consider:
- Choose recipes and meals you want to prep – prep smoothie packs to reduce the time you spend on making breakfast. Also, make dinners that you can reheat ahead if you have busy evenings.
- Make your menu – rely on some recipes that you cooked before. Keep things simple so you don`t overwhelm yourself. Choose your meals according to seasonal produce to get the best flavors.
- Schedule time for your prepping – setting time is important. If you can, choose the same day you go shopping so your groceries can be fresh. It might not be possible to cook many meals simultaneously, so you can set the time for preparing some ingredients and that time for making the recipes.
3. Stock up and go shopping
When you finish menu planning, make a shopping list. However, before you go shopping, check the inventory of your pantry and fridge. Buy enough spices, whole grains that you can keep longer, quinoa, beans, and similar things. Eggs can stay in the fridge for some time. Freezer-friendly food is also something that you can easily transform into a meal.
Making a shopping list is essential because you will go through the grocery store quickly and be organized. Make sure that you have all the ingredients that you use weekly. For example, onions, brown rice, and olive oil, and add them when it is necessary.
Stock up on food containers. Depending on which type of prepping you choose, make sure that you have all storage containers that you will use. Glass or plastic containers with lids, mason jars, freezer, or zip-lock bags. The best ones might be plastic because they are lightweight and easier to take with you.
4. Prep your meals and store them afterward
Before you start chopping, make the most of your time by beginning with food that requires the longest time to make. Prepare ingredients that will be cooked first and preheat the oven. Boil water for food that needs longer cooking. If you have two recipes with the same ingredients, chop, and prep those things for both.
When using a cutting board, cut the produce that you will eat raw first. Then, cut the product that you need to cook. Always use clean cutting boards and utensils after preparing poultry or meat.
Think about the time that food can stay in the refrigerator. Cut vegetables can stay for 2 to 3 days. Vegetables that you wash, dry and keep in the refrigerator can stay fresh for up to 4 days. Also, freeze properly so you can keep the food quality. First, make sure that you cool the meals before freezing them. Wrap, close, and store carefully in the freezer. Put a label with the name and date as a reminder.
5. Enjoy your meals
When you get a hang of it, you will soon experience all the benefits of meal prepping. Whether you prep ingredients for one meal or work lunches for half or a whole week, make double batches to freeze, you will see that any amount of time you spend doing so, will come back to you as a reward.
You will need time to decide what is the best kind of meal prep for you. But, keep in mind, have patience in the beginning and you will soon become a pro meal prepper.
What food can we meal prep?
This is something that might be different from person to person. But here are some ideas of food that works well for meal prepping:
- Cooked meat
- Seeds and nuts
- Roasted veggies
- Fresh veggies like carrots, peas, celery, peppers, cabbage, kale, radishes, etc.
- Cooked grains and pasta
- Whole fruit like oranges, apples, berries, etc.
- Dips and sauces like hummus, salad dressings, sour cream, salsa, etc.
- Cooked beans
Food that you should try to avoid because they usually do not go well with meal prep:
- Crunchy food like crackers, chips, fried food, etc.
- Softer veggies and fruits
- Food that does not reheat well
But, if you want to try to use these foods, just pack them individually and they should stay fresh longer and will not change the other ingredients. When you store the food properly there would be no problems.
The bottom line
Making your meals ahead is a convenient way to help you meet your health goals. Also, it will encourage better eating habits and make your life easier. If you are following a special diet, or you just want to eat healthily, meal prep is the way to do so.
As long as you have a little patience, the right ingredients, and enough food containers, you don`t have to worry. These are all things that will help you make nutritious and tasty dishes. That way, you can do other things throughout the week during the extra time you will get. Even if it can sound confusing at the beginning, be persistent, keep planning and you will be a meal prep expert in no time. Let us know if there is something about this topic, or diet in general, that we can help you with. Enjoy your meals!