If you want to save time, money, or simply eat a healthier diet, meal prepping can help you reach your goals. Meal planning is allotting a block of time once a week to prepare for all your upcoming meals. Unlike meal planning, which entails finding recipes to fit your schedule best, meal prepping is the actual preparation of meals or ingredients ahead of time and then storing them until they will be used. In meal prepping, you can choose to make and freeze entire meals ahead of time, prepare meals in individual containers for on-the-go lunches, or chop and store ingredients ahead of time. This can help you reduce food waste, save money, and eat a healthier diet as well. Ready to get started? Here are some tips for success on your first meal prep.
Start small If you are just starting with meal prep, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to plan an entire week’s worth of meals all at once. You might want to start with just a few meals a week or maybe just dinners, lunches, or snacks. You can already inject positive changes to your meal planning habits wherever you begin!
Make a checklist It is a good practice to spend time writing down everything you will need to do during your weekly meal prepping session. Collect all your recipes and make a shopping list of all that you will be needing. By doing this, you won’t miss anything and have the right ingredients on hand on prep day.
Invest in containers When you meal prep, you will be making meals or preparing ingredients for several days of meals at one time. This makes investing in a set of quality food storage containers very important as you will be reusing them each week. It may take you a few weeks to figure out how many containers you really need, so it’s a good idea to start with a medium-size set and just add more containers as you go. Glass containers are more eco-friendly and generally last longer than plastic.
Gather ingredients A few days before your planned prep day, start gathering the ingredients on your shopping list. Your pantry is the best place to start shopping. Take stock of what you already have and what you actually need to buy. Try rotating the food in your pantry regularly. This helps you avoid wasting your money on expired food items. If you can, try and find recipes that include things you already have to maximize your meal prep efficiency.
Schedule enough time Meal prepping can take several hours, depending on the quantity and type of meal you are preparing. Allot a sizable chunk of time for your weekly meal prep sessions. Try to do your meal prepping on the same day of the week and, at the same time, make it a consistent part of your new meal planning system.
Prep smart Your ultimate goal might be to prep everything fresh or from scratch, but don’t feel guilty for taking a few shortcuts when you need to. If chopping vegetables is too time-consuming (or is just not your thing), go ahead and buy pre-cut vegetables instead. Also, do not attempt elaborate meals at this time. While it is ideal to include all the basic food groups into your meal plan, if you find yourself struggling, scale back your meal prepping a bit. When you are more efficient in your meal prepping session, you are more likely to do it consistently every week.
Finally, keep in mind that meal prepping is different for everyone. Experimenting with different approaches is a good way to find a system that works best for you.
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