Meal prep. Do you love it, or do you hate it? I can’t help but think of endless containers laid out on the counter with exactly the same thing in each of them. Not to mention, countless hours spent in the kitchen preparing these meals.
It doesn’t have to be that way! I’ve got six tips for you to make meal planning and prepping doable and sustainable. But before we jump in, let’s discuss why this habit is worth mastering.
There are countless benefits of home-cooked foods, including: having more control over your plate, increased fruit and vegetable consumption and healthy weight management. Implementing meal prep into your week can also lead to an increased ability to stick to healthy habits and goals, as well as improved decision making skills.
But yet, Americans are spending an average of $8 more per meal by going the convenient route of grab and go foods.
Here are six simple tips to master modern meal prep.
Have a plan. But not just any plan. A three-part plan that includes a menu plan, grocery shopping list and meal prep plan. First, create a menu plan for the week by writing down your meals (home-cooked and/or out) to organize the days ahead. Once you identify which meals will be made at home, create a shopping list and stock up at the store. Instead of winging it in the kitchen, create a meal prep plan of what foods you want to make ahead of time.
Decide what’s a must. To avoid spending hours in the kitchen, don’t feel like you have to make all meals at one time. Look at your week ahead and identify which meals are going to be the most challenging for you. Only prep these meals and save the rest for later!
Find shortcuts. Follow the “semi-prepped” method by looking for convenient options where it makes sense. This might be pre-chopped fruits and vegetables, frozen veggies and grains, or individual packets of hummus and guacamole. It can be worth the extra few pennies if it saves you time and energy in the kitchen.
Divide and conquer. Break your prep session into bite-sized chunks of time. For example, I prefer to prep what I might need to get me through the middle of the week on Sunday. On Wednesday, I’ll prep anything remaining for the week.
Multi-task. This is the secret to improving efficiency in the kitchen! The goal is to have multiple things going at once. A good rule of thumb is to have something in the oven, on the stove and keep your hands busy (chopping or assembling) at all times.
Find your inventory sweet spot. If you’ve tried meal prepping all of your meals on the weekends, you might have noticed that there’s some waste at the end of the week. This can happen because plans change last-minute, or a recipe lasted longer than you expected. To avoid this, find the inventory formula that works for you. This could be one or two breakfast items, a snack, and three mains on hand to get you through the week.
Happy meal planning and prepping!
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