Creating new eating habits can be difficult and overwhelming. You have finally landed on how you want to improve your meals, but how do you begin? You made goals, but how do you actually accomplish them? Many people tend to get stuck at this point. This is where meal prep comes into play! With every goal comes the need for being prepared.
If your goal is to add more veggies to your diet, cut down on processed foods, or just trying to incorporate more home cooked meals, preparing your meals ahead of time is one way to actually make it happen. The concept of meal prep is pretty easy. Just take one day or one afternoon to make your meals for the week! I know, easier said than done, but there are a few ways you can do this. What’s important is knowing yourself and making your goal attainable. If you don’t cook at all, maybe just choose one recipe to conquer a week and focus more on technique to start. If you are comfortable in the kitchen, I challenge you to two or three recipes or branching out to different cultural cuisine that will add flare to your go-to meals.
Before you begin, there are a few things you need:
- Freezer bags or glass containers with lids
- Kitchen essentials for bulk cooking (knives, cutting boards, measuring cups, sheet pans, a slow cooker, etc.) Check your selected recipes beforehand to see if there is anything you need to purchase.
- A recipe or two than can be done in bulk
- List of ingredients for those recipes
- Maybe a friend to help if you are new to this!
5 tips for meal prepping success:
Make a plan. Sitting down and planning out your meals is essential. What day works best for you? What kind of meals do you want and who will be eating them? What are your goals? You can take time here to search for new recipes to try, or stick with old faithful on your first time around. Sit down, grab some coffee and make a plan.
Give yourself more time than you think. With more food cooking at once, things can take much longer. Clean-up for multiple recipes will add time at the end. Don’t worry, this will improve with practice!
Select recipes that freeze well. If you are someone who won’t eat the same thing for lunch every day, you may find yourself getting tired of the meal you prepped. Freezing single servings in bags or containers will save you time later and will reduce food waste. Soups, chili or burritos are a great place to start. Choosing something like a salad, although can be done, will not keep as well, and can’t be frozen.
Start with a recipe you have made before. If you are intimidated at the thought of bulk cooking, go with something easy and familiar. This will give you practice in portioning out meals and knowing what you may need to improve for next week.
Make it fun. Though it does save you time throughout the week, meal prep afternoons can feel long! Invite a friend over, play your new favorite album or throw on a movie to make chopping and cleaning more fun. Remind yourself that not only are you saving time and money, you are creating great food habits for yourself and for your family.