Get off to a simple start and you will be surprised at how much impact even a little bit of meal prep can have. Meal prepping is convenient, efficient, reduces waste, and reduces the temptation to eat outside your plan.
First of all, it helps with consuming the right foods (having most of your food readily prepared makes it a hundred times easier). It also saves you money because you’re not buying your lunch everyday and not wasting any ingredients. And most of all, saves you precious time, because prepping ahead means you will be spending less time cooking during the week, which automatically reduces stress, since you’ll have one less thing to worry about.
Committing a couple of hours to meal prep, generally during weekends or days off, and staying consistent will make you more likely to get used to it. Dedicate at least a few hours once a week, dedicated to meal planning, shopping, meal prep and cleaning. Schedule it in your calendar and by the time you get the hang of it, meal prep will become an easy, weekly routine. Firstly, plan your meals. Write down breakfasts, lunches and dinners food items needed. Last but not least, include food items needed for snacks and individualise all the ingredients you need to buy. Get shopping, and if online grocery shopping is possible it’s more favourable as you will avoid impulse buying. It will not only save you time, but you’ll end up with exactly what you need for cooking. Once you have the lists and all the ingredients, you can start prepping.
Few beginners tips:
It would be best not to try any new crazy recipes whilst you’re still trying to get the hang of meal prep. Using recipes you know are easy and tasty might be the best base to start on.
Make a little more than you may think you need as any excess food can always be packaged and frozen to be defrosted at a later date. Foods like soups and chopped vegetables all freeze near perfectly.
Plan ahead for the unplanned. Cravings - something salty or sugary. Prepare bags of chopped ingredients that can be easily made into a smoothie, or portions of mixed nuts that can be easily packed up, this will help you to not consume unhealthy processed food items when cravings may arise.
Some tools will do things faster than we ever will. I’m talking about time-saving must-haves that prepare food or perform cooking steps while you do other things. Some gadgets to look into are a food processor, pressure cooker and a hand blender.
Multitask. While your hard-boiled eggs are boiling, pull out your hand blender and start making soup for your dinners. Play around with the tools enough, and you’ll fall into a natural rhythm. Just keep your space organised, so you instantly know where to reach for everything. Clear, glass containers are the most practical containers to stock up your fridge with. You can see everything at first glance whilst also being assured of no chemical leakage from over-used plastic containers.
How long do meal preps stay ‘good’? As food is stored in the refrigerator it begins a slow decline in quality. In addition to this, the way food is packed or the individual nuances of your refrigerator environment can impact the quality of your refrigerated meals. So often the lifespan or acceptable changes in texture and flavour will be subject to the eater. Always begin with the refrigeration guidelines set by the FDA, and then evaluate them against your own preferences.
Meal prep is about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and fuelling your body with the right meals, but at the same time, it’s about feeling free. After planning and preparing all your meals for the week, you’re left with more free time and less decision making. You don’t need to think about what you’ll make for dinner when you get home because it’s already been decided and made. Use your new mental energy for other things you care about, taking care of your family, your relationships, your passions, your workouts, or anything you see fit.
Never stop moving forward!
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