It seems the new rad in the food world is meal prep. We all see the pictures on social media that make our typical meals look less than appetizing and wonder how our dish could look like theirs. Then strolls in more questions like, how are they so organized, how do they know what to make, can I eat that healthy? Have you ever considered your own meal prep but are not quite sure on where to start? Let us take the overwhelming portion out and give you the steps on how to start your own meal prep.
Before we start, let’s dig into what meal prep means and get some facts straight. Meal prepping, simply put, is creating all of your meals for the week ahead of time. This can be done for an individual or for a whole family. It can be as simple as chopping up fresh fruits and veggies for salads or as in-depth as cooking full meals and portioning them out for the week.
You may be wondering, “Why me?”. So, why should you meal prep? First off, meal prepping will save you time, save you money, and puts you in control of your eating habits. The second thing you should know is meal prepping is not a one size fits all. What are your goals, are you looking to cut macros, cut carbs, or merely make your mealtimes more convenient? If you are wanting to start off slow, take a look at your needs. Do you skip breakfast or go for the donut based on convenience? Start with prepping a healthy breakfast for your week. Do you spend way too much money on lunch? Then maybe meal prepping lunch should be your first priority. Do you find yourself crunched for time to sneak in a dinner? Meal prepping for dinner is your answer.
Starting with one meal a week will get you off on the right start and build a routine to where you can eventually start meal prepping for more than just one meal a week.
How to prep for meal prepping.
Storage Containers! Use high-quality food storage containers to keep your meals hot, cold and fresh. Having quality food containers will make a big difference in your meal prepping, you want your food to keep for the week. Even more important, you don’t want containers that release chemicals into your food. If you do not have any, I recommend purchasing some before you get started. Make sure to stock up in a variety of sizes, that last thing you want is to run out of storage containers while meal prepping.
Choose recipes and create your meals to meet your needs. When considering your meals for the week, you can either choose to make a meal that will last you all week or make some mix-and-match meal options to eat from throughout the week. Cooked meat, roasted vegetables, soups, your choices are endless. One thing to consider is when working with soft vegetables, cut fruit and/or crunchy foods, they will get softer throughout the week so keep these in separate containers to help hold up the quality. Keep your dressing separate from your salads until the day of eating. These little tips go a long way. Once you have nailed down your meals, take stock of what you need for those recipes, plus any missing essentials you might need and create a grocery list.
Schedule Time for meal prep!!! This is a must as these two go hand in hand. Pick a day in your week for meal prep. This could be a Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday…any day the fits best in your schedule. If you are worried about time, think of options of ways to cook more than one food at once. Examples are using your oven and stove to prep more than one food; if you’re making rice or quinoa, use a rice cooker.
Once you have your meals set, groceries bought, it’s time to PREP! Some things to consider when first starting out. Keep it simple. Focus on one main dish and avoid spending the whole day cooking. You don’t want to overdo it your first-time meal prepping, this may discourage you from meal prepping again in the future. Make sure you are making well-balanced meals. Get enough of the right food groups to balance out your recommended daily intake. Cook foods you will actually eat. You do not need to venture off and try new foods when meal prepping. Stick to what you know you will eat; you don’t want to waste your food or your time. Know that you can switch up your meal prepping routine each week. Find what works, what doesn’t and adjust your meal prepping time if needed.
Here are some great recipes to get you started on your meal prep adventure: