Meal Prep 101
If your Instagram is anything like mine, you constantly see photo after photo of cute little containers full of healthy tasty prepped meals. You may be tempted to try it, and you should be; as meal prepping is not only a smart way to cook and eat, it also saves you time and money. Meal prepping goes hand in hand with meal planning, and together they both mean that you can eat properly and spend less time cooking every day. Meal prepping makes your life easier and reduces the temptation of hitting the drive-thru or grabbing an unhealthy option. Knowing that you have meals almost ready to go makes a huge difference when you’ve slept late, got stuck at work or are just tired and hungry at the end of the day. Here we’ll look at some tips on how to get you up to speed with meal prepping.
What Meals do You Need?
When you start your prep, think about your schedule and what’s going on in your life this week, or for whatever time frame you want to prep for. Make a list of the meals you want to be prepped. Write down what you want to eat for the week, all of them, if you have plans to dine out or have dinner with friends, simply put an X on that meal, include your snacks too. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just outline what you like to eat.
Make it Easy
Use your favorite recipes, recipes list all the amounts of ingredients that you need and will provide consistent yields. If you are short on time during the week but want a fresh hot meal, make it easy on yourself and use the slow cooker. Prepping a meal that you put in the slow cooker on your way out the door at the start of a busy day, will make coming home to a fully cooked and ready meal a real treat. To prep a slow cooker meal, place meats, peeled and cut veges, along with seasonings in a Ziploc and simply add it to the slow cooker, you can prep these meals and toss them in the freezer too.
Use what you have on hand and buy only what you need, this approach will save you lots of money over time. Look in your fridge and cupboards and make a list of the types of ingredients you need and how much you need to prep all your meals. Shop seasonal, which provides you with variety of flavor and the best prices on ingredients.
Cook it Once
If you are going to be eating boiled eggs, grains or meats at more than one meal, cook as much as you need for the entire week. If you make rice or quinoa, make a big pot of it, let it cool and portion into containers and pop it in the fridge, this can easily be combined with a quick stir fry to make a quick weeknight meal. You’ll spend less time putting meals together each day and you’ll spend less time washing dishes, which, means more time to do other things that you enjoy.
Gather Everything You Need
Start with one meal, let’s say you want to prep breakfast and you want a smoothie Mon, Weds & Fri with Oatmeal on Tuesday and Eggs & Veges on Thursday. Get 3 ziploc bags, a jar and a small plastic container. Portion the fruits/vegs and greens you want in your smoothie along with anything else you want in your smoothie like protein powder and place it in the Ziploc, then simply pop it in your freezer. Portion your oatmeal, nuts and dried fruits in the jar and put it in the cupboard or leave it on the counter. Chop up the veges you want in your eggs and keep it in the fridge. When you are ready to make your smoothie, simply empty the portioned smoothie bag into the blender and add water, milk or juice. For the Oatmeal, add milk to the jar on Monday night, put it in the fridge and simply heat in the microwave in the morning. For the eggs, just cook your veges and add the eggs. Apply the same approach to other meals, start collecting different sized containers to make storing prepped foods easier. When you prep salads, keep the dressing on the side, so the salads don’t wilt. On average a prepped meal will stay fresh in your fridge for 4 days, when you are prepping cooked meals, you can freeze them for up to 30 days.
Portion Your Snacks
Keep a well-stocked snack drawer or basket of nuts, bars, fruits or jerky can be a life saver. Wash all fruits and vegetables and have them trimmed so they are ready for on-the-go eating.