Meal prepping is an effective way to not only save money on food but also eat healthier and lose weight. But the task of meal prep can feel incredibly overwhelming and daunting.
Don’t stress! Keep reading to get the complete guide to meal prepping.
Find The Best Meal Prepping Method
Depending on your cooking style, schedule, and meals you want to make, there are different meal prep styles you can choose from. Let’s break it down.
This is ideal if you have little time to prep meals during the week. Here you would want to cook complete meals that can you reheat during mealtimes.
For example a batch of soup, or a tray of casserole. This method makes weeknight dinners a breeze.
Batch Cooking & Freezing
Here, you would prepare multiple batches of a recipe that you would portion out and freeze for meals during the weeks to come. Such as a vat of chili, or making extra rice, and then freezing that food to use for the next three to six months.
Individually Portioned Meals
This type of prep usually involves specific health goals or the convenience of grab-and-go meals. Here you are preparing and portioning foods in the right servings. This would include something like single-serving of overnight oats or mason jar salads.
Read To Cook Ingredients
If you’d like to cook your meals right before you serve them, then your meal prep might involve simply prepping ingredients. Meaning chopping onions and peppers to make chili night easier. Prepping ingredients cuts down on cooking time, which is ideal for busy weeknight meals.
Make A Meal Plan
Now that you know what type of meal prep you’d like to do, its time to make a plan. When doing this, you’ll really want to think about your week ahead and determine how many meals you will need to make. So if you have dinner or lunch plans in the coming week, make sure you keep that in mind.
You might even want to set themes to your days, to make meal prep easier, such as Meatless Monday or Taco Tuesday. This takes out some of the guesswork of deciding what to cook.
You’ll also want to pick recipes that work well with the basic pantry staples and condiments you already have on hand. Since you’ll already have to load up on fresh vegetables, proteins and grains, adding a ton of new spices and sauces to your haul will add up. Unless you plan to use those items for multiple meals.
Choose Your Meals To Prep
Meal prepping doesn’t mean you have to make every single meal for the week ahead, instead focus on your needs. Maybe you’re looking to streamline your morning routine, in which case prepping smoothies or overnight oats will cut down the time you spend on breakfast. Or if your evenings are usually slammed, you may want to focus on make-ahead dinners you can easily reheat during the week.
Write Your Menu
When you’re planning your meal prep, you’ll want to rely mostly on tried and true recipes you can whip up with ease. You can also incorporate maybe one or two new recipes as well. You want to keep your menu as simple as possible, as this will end up saving you a ton of time.
You’ll want to also build your meals around seasonal produce to get the best flavor and value out of your dishes. Such as squash for fall, or ripe juicy tomatoes in the summer.
If you’re not sure where to start with this, try making a batch of brown rice, some chicken breasts and a tray of freshly roasted vegetables. These are easy staples you can quickly assemble into a rice bowl, fried rice or a salad.
Schedule Your Prep
You’ll want to set aside some time where you can actually prep all your food. If possible prep your food on the same day you shop.
Make sure you prep plan is realistic, for example, it may not be possible to make five meals in an hour. Or if you’re up for a challenge, set a timer for your meal prep process to keep you focused.
Don’t Forget Breakfast
It’s nice to have breakfast on autopilot, especially if you’re not much of a morning person. You don’t want to have to wake up early in the morning and stress about what in the fridge to eat before you rush off to work.
Most of us tend to eat the same thing (or a variation of the same thing) for breakfast every day anyway, so you might as well prep it to make your life that much easier.
Stock Up On Containers
Durable reusable containers are key in getting yourself organized for meal prep. After all, meal prep is all about the containers. So make sure you invest in a batch you love that are well made and leak proof.
Shop The Bulk Bins
Most meal prep recipes rely on basic ingredients like nuts, seeds, beans, and grains. These items are all much cheaper when you buy them in the bulk section of the grocery store.
This is also a great way to test out new grains like buckwheat and farro without committing to a big expensive package. Also, oats are always cheaper when bought in bulk.
Use That Slow Cooker
The slow cooker is your best friend when it comes to meal prep. You can wake up on a Sunday morning, throw some things in the slow cooker, set it and then forget until that night when a batch of a meal will be ready.
Slow cookers also allow you to multi-task, as it cooks one meal while you can focus on prepping others.
Know When To Cut Corners
Meal prep doesn’t mean to make everything from scratch. You don’t need to rice your own cauliflower (also don’t do this, it makes you kitchen stink for days).
You can still stock up on shortcut staples to make your life that much easier. Items like canned beans, frozen brown rice, rotisserie chicken, zoodles and pre-cut butternut squash (it’s a pain to cut and peel). These shortcuts will save you a ton of time when you meal prep.
Make Your Meal Prep Plan Today!
Now that you know how easy meal prepping can be, make your plan today. Meal prep isn’t overwhelming as long as you stick to a plan and cut corners when you can. For more home cooking tips and tricks, check out our blog.