Meal prepping is basically choosing and putting aside time to prepare food in order to make eating during the week easier. It helps you eat healthier, save time and money, and reduce stress. There are a few methods to do that: batch cooking, preparing ingredients, and preparing individually portioned meals. With batch cooking you prepare a large batch of something that you know you’ll be using frequently during the week. Preparing ingredients usually involves washing and chopping up vegetables, marinating meat, or doing some roasting; it means preparing the ingredients that you’ll use to put together your meals during the week. Preparing individually portioned meals means that you’ll have to prepare everything and set it out in containers so that they’re fully ready to grab anytime you need them.
Meal prepping comes in so many shapes and forms so we’ve set below some simple steps that’ll hopefully help you get the gist of it.
First of all, you need to decide which meals you will need to prepare for the week ahead. You can start by choosing just one (breakfast, lunch or dinner) and move up when you’re ready. When the meal is set, choose the type of food that you’re going to be eating. You can prepare a versatile base and use that for several different dishes or you can simply make large quantities of the same dish to last you for most of the week.
2. Make a grocery list
After choosing your recipes and building your menu, you’re going to need to make sure you have everything you need. Break down your recipes into their ingredients and make a grocery list for all the items you don’t have.
3. Pick a time
Setting aside a day or two during the week for meal prep will help immensely. Meal prepping does not need to take all day; 30 minutes may be all you need. Most meals last between 3-5 days in the fridge so if you’re planning on meal prepping for the entire week, you’ll want to schedule two days a week. Make sure you check out the FDA guide to how long you can safely store your food.
You’re going to need to store the food that you prepared. Reusable plastics and plastic bags are not usually recommended for packing meal prep foods. Use divided containers or pack the items separately to avoid cross-contamination and flavor contamination, make sure you use clean, air tight containers, and pack wet food separate from dry food. If you plan on freezing or microwaving your food, choose safe containers for that.
- Make sure you’re preparing balanced meals depending on your diet and health goals.
- Prepare food that you’ll actually eat
- Make sure you get the right amount of food. You don’t want to run out of food during the week, but you also don’t want to make so much food that it ends up going bad. Always keep your schedule in mind when doing that.
- Focus on simple meals
- Choose the recipes based on your needs and the time you have.
- Try to multitask. For example, chop up the vegetables while your food is in the oven.
- Choose food with a long shelf life.
- Start simple and move up gradually. You do not need to prep full meals right away.