Meal prepping remains one of the hottest food trends, being popular amongst very busy people who want to save time. Meal prep services make it so people don’t have to think about what they need to eat in order to be healthier. Although these services or delivery kits exist, they can be quite pricey for the average person. Doing it yourself, however, is a very feasible and affordable option that doesn’t have to overwhelm or exhaust you.
If you are new to meal prepping, it can seem like a daunting task. Some meals may include poached salmon with wild rice and roasted asparagus, but all meals don’t have to be that labor intensive. Meals can include smoothie bags, mason jar salads, simple pasta dishes, and more. Ideally, you create balanced meals that deliver an array of nutrients from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lean proteins.
What is Meal Prepping, And Why Should You Do It?
First of all, meal prepping is a convenient, efficient way to eat and reduce the temptation to eat outside your diet plan. If you are on a budget, meal prepping is an excellent way to save money because you won’t need to eat out. The goal is to spend one day out of the week, typically Sunday, prepping about three to five days worth of food at a time. Depending on how labor-intensive you want the prep process to be, you can simply focus on breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, or all of the above.
Different Ways To Meal Prep
There are a few different approaches to meal prepping, and you have to choose the method that best fits your schedule. Make-ahead meals, which are full meals that you cook in advance and refrigerate until reheating at mealtimes, are very popular for lunch and dinner prep. Batch cooking is another way to prep by making a large batch of one recipe and portioning it out to be frozen. You then periodically eat those batch meals over the next couple months. Ready-to-cook meals are essentially ingredients that you prep ahead of time to cut down actual cooking time in the kitchen. Finally, you can individually portion out meals that you can refrigerate and eat over the next few days.
The method that you choose will depend on how you want to streamline your days. You may not have a lot of time to make a nutritious breakfast in the morning, so overnight oats or chia pudding can be great breakfast prep options. Batch cooking can be great if you need to feed several people for dinner and don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Choose a method that interests you and then slowly experiment with other styles of meal prep to determine what you like.
Make A Plan
Once you establish which meal prep suits you best, you have to make a plan and write your menu. The best way to start is with recipes that you’ve cooked before, throwing one or two new recipes into the mix. Keeping things simple in the beginning will save you time. It’s better to build meals around seasonal produce items for the best flavors. This is also another way to create budget-friendly meals.
Sometimes, you don’t need to create one dish for meal prep; rather, you can piece together a meal with several different components. Consider making a big batch of brown rice, quinoa, or roasted sweet potatoes, a tray of roasted vegetables, and your lean protein of choice. You can also assemble mason jar salads, which you can learn more about by clicking here. If you want to keep it simple and assemble smoothie bags, which contain ingredients that you add to a blender, then you can do that as well.
Stock Up On Staples
Once you establish your menu, you have to build a shopping list. Before you rush out to the grocery store, it’s a good idea to take inventory of things in your kitchen. It’s a great idea to stock up on pantry staples, purchasing dried herbs, spices, and shelf-stable grains and legumes. This simplifies the meal prep process. Additionally, you may want to purchase salt-free canned bean varieties or low-sodium vegetable stock. Olive oil, coconut oil, liquid aminos, tahini, and other liquids are great to stock up on as well.
The last thing you need before you meal prep is a great supply of containers. Depending on the meals you want to make, you may need smaller or larger storage containers. Zip-top storage and freezer bags are also good to have on hand, especially for batch cooked meals and smoothie bags. Let us know how your meal prep journey goes and if you want to see more content like this.