Meal prepping involves preparing some or all of your meals in advance. It saves a lot of time during the week and comes in handy when you need a quick, healthy meal.
But we know what you're thinking...
Meal prep? You mean a whole Sunday in the kitchen?
We get it. You already have a lot to do on the weekend. You don't want to spend one of your days off and relaxing working.
But it can certainly pay off throughout the week. Plus, we created this blog to help you make the most of your food plan in the most effective way possible!
Benefits Of Meal Prepping
Before we get into the ins and outs, let's take a look at why you might consider meal prepping to begin with.
Diet and nutrition - Having meals planned and already prepared can be very helpful if you're dieting or trying to make sure you're getting the right amount of nutrients.
It's healthier - If all your meals and snacks are already prepared, chances are you won't be driving to the drive-thru. You'll be more likely to avoid take-out and other unhealthy options like that. And because you plan ahead, you're more likely to choose healthier options for yourself.
You'll snack less - If you're looking to watch your calorie intake or just want to avoid the temptation to snack on unhealthy foods, meal planning can help. You'll always have complete meals that will keep you fuller longer.
You'll save money - Since you can plan exactly what groceries you'll need for the week, your budget will be much easier to manage.
Convenience - It may seem like a chore at first, but throughout the week, you'll thank yourself every time you sit down to eat your nutritious pre-prepared meal.
Different Ways To Meal Prep
What you need to understand about meal preparation is that there is no one way to do it. The best way is to see what works for your needs and adopt those practices.
Here are some of the most popular forms of meal prep:
Make-ahead meals - These are complete, pre-cooked meals that you can freeze or refrigerate and reheat as needed. This is a great option for parties!
Batch cooking - This involves making large quantities of a recipe - for example, chili - that you can freeze for weeks or months and reheat as needed.
Single-serving meals - If you make sandwiches, wraps or a salad that you can put in the fridge and eat over the next few days, it can be a great take-out meal that you can easily grab on your way out the door.
Ready-to-cook ingredients - doesn't always have to be a whole meal. You can chop vegetables ahead of time or prepare other ingredients that you know you will need throughout the week to cut down on time spent in the kitchen.
The type of you choose depends on your needs and situation. If you want to have more time in the morning, single-serving meals that you can grab on your way out the door may work for you. Or, if you find that you don't have as much time as you'd like in the evening, batch preparation, make-ahead meals, or ready-to-cook ingredients might work for you!
How To Choose?
You may be wondering what types of meals to make and how much to make.
Remember, you can take your time to figure out exactly what type of you want to do. It may take some trial and error.
Take a look at your calendar and see what meals you would like to prepare ahead of time for which days. Estimate how much food you will need to prepare for those days and times. If you're not sure, it's better to have too much than not enough.
Keep in mind when you plan to eat out or order in.
When deciding what type of meal to make at first, it's best to stick with a known recipe. That way, you won't get bogged down in a new recipe too quickly. That being said, it's good to vary things up to get a healthy range of nutrients and not get bored by deciding to go to the drive-thru anyway!
How To Cut Down On Your Cooking Time
Cooking can often be a pleasure. But sometimes you're just tired from your busy schedule and want to rush through the kitchen without sacrificing the quality of your food choices.
Here are some tips for cutting back on cooking time:
Stick to a schedule - It's best to pick a time when you'll do your grocery shopping and meal prep. Otherwise, you may find yourself disorganized and the whole process may fall behind schedule. Set aside a certain amount of time each week - Sunday morning or Monday evening - to prepare all your meals. This way, you can control your schedule and your time.
Be careful with the recipes you choose - It may take some time to find your rhythm, but eventually you will find that your efficiency in the kitchen improves. Choose recipes that require different cooking methods. If too many recipes require the oven, you will have to wait all day to cook them.
A good rule of thumb is to choose one recipe for the oven and two recipes for the stovetop. That way you can cook them in tandem. While they are cooking, you can work on things that don't need to be reheated, like sandwiches or salads.
Organize prep and cooking times - Similarly, a planned workflow can save you a lot of time. Start with the recipe that requires the most cooking time, such as a soup or baked dish. Once those are underway, focus on cold foods like sandwiches. Also review your recipes ahead of time. If two of them call for chopped onions, chop them all at once.
Make a grocery list - This list is not for cooking, but it is still part of the process. A shopping list can save you a lot of time, because you can confidently walk around the store to get what you need without stopping to try to remember it.
Store Your Food Properly
The way you store the food you prepare can make a big difference in keeping it fresh and preserving its nutrients.
Here are some recommendations for containers:
Airtight containers - Reusable silicone bags, stainless steel containers and Mason jars can keep your food crisp and fresh.
BPA-free microwave containers - These are convenient and healthier, especially if you microwave your meals. Glass or silicone containers are also good options.
Freezer safe containers - These can help reduce freezer burn and nutrient loss. If you use a glass container, be sure to leave enough room for the food to expand when it freezes (for example, an inch of air at the top of a Mason jar).
Compartmented containers - You can prepare foods that need to be mixed just before eating. A container with airtight compartments is perfect for this type of meal.
Steps To A Successful Meal Prep
Preparing some or all of your meals doesn't have to be as time consuming and laborious as it sounds. With practice, you can learn to simplify the process to make it as efficient as possible.
Using the information presented in this article, here are some tips to help you succeed with your meal prep:
- Select the method of your choice based on your lifestyle and specific needs.
- Choose a day to focus on your shopping and meal prep.
- Be sure to choose the exact number of meals you will need for the week or month. Remember to exclude times when you will be eating out or at a friend or family member's house for a meal.
- Choose recipes that allow you to simplify things in the kitchen.
- Look for ways to speed up both shopping and your time in the kitchen.
- Store your meals properly. Don't leave food out too long and don't leave perishables out too long, as they may start to grow harmful bacteria. The "danger zone" for bacteria growth is between 40 and 140 degrees Celsius.
Once you've found the right pace for your goals, can be a huge game changer. We hope this blog will help you save time throughout your busy week - whether it's because you've been chopping veggies ahead of time or making ahead of time for each night.
Boost Your Meals
When you prepare meals, all your meals are homemade. This is a great opportunity for you to increase your nutritional intake. This can have lasting effects on your overall health as you consume healthy foods regularly.
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