Have you ever felt that you just don’t have enough time to make a home-cooked meal every night for dinner? Ever wondered how you can save money by buying in bulk? Do you simply dislike cooking?
If you said yes to any of these questions, meal prepping might be a good fit for you! Before you stop reading because you think meal prepping means boring chicken, rice, and broccoli, you might be surprised to learn about its many benefits in addition to the variety of ways meal prepping can be done. Here are just a few of the ways in which meal prepping can help reduce unnecessary stress in your life.
Benefits of meal prepping:
- Saves time
- Saves money
- Controls portion sizes
- Less cleanup
- Fewer trips to the grocery store
Intriguing, right? If you’re interested in trying out meal prepping for yourself, make sure to set yourself up for success by following these guidelines.
Know Your Schedule
It’s no surprise that meal prepping requires meal planning. In order to ensure you have enough time to dedicate to meal prepping, it’s important to set aside time for a prep day. Most people find that Sundays are their best day for making their meals and/or snacks. Moreover, giving each day of the week a theme can add more pizzazz as well, such as Soup Sunday, Meatless Monday, and Taco Tuesday.
Keep Basics on Hand
Stocking your pantry and fridge with healthy staples aids smooth meal prepping, reduces frustration, and saves you extra trips to the grocery store. Examples of shelf stable and perishable staples can be found below:
Prepare Your List
One of the best parts about meal prepping is that you don’t have to drastically change your diet in order to do it. Before going to the grocery store, it’s a good idea to have a plan of attack.
- Assess the contents of your pantry and fridge and choose recipes based on what you already have.
- Make a list of all the ingredients, and their amounts, you need in order to make your recipes.
- Group your list of ingredients according to your grocery store layout to minimize wandering back and forth between the aisles. For instance, all the produce should be grouped together, grains/pastas go together, dairy products go together.
When preparing your list, try to follow the layout of MyPlate. This strategy helps create healthy, balanced meals to help fuel your day.
- 1/2 plate fruits and veggies
- 1/4 plate whole grains
- 1/4 plate lean protein
- 1 cup low-fat dairy
Cook in Bulk
Sheet pan recipes are an easy way to cook large batches of food at one time while reducing the number of dirty dishes. As an added bonus, try choosing versatile ingredients to allow repurposing of leftovers. For instance, leftover bell peppers can be incorporated into tacos, salads, eggs, and more.
Invest in Storage Containers and a Lunch Bag
Have all this food but nothing to put it in? Invest in reusable storage containers to make your meals portable and to help keep your prepared foods fresh. Having different sized containers on hand makes it easier to pack different portion sizes, such as for sauces or dressings. When shopping for containers, make sure they pass the test by ensuring they are:
Here are some helpful resources for recipes and more information on meal prepping:
Step by Step Food Prep: https://www.theleangreenbean.com/how-to-food-prep-step-by-step/
Meal Prep Menus: https://therealfoodrds.com/meal-prep-menus/
Meal Prep Magic: https://nutritionalanatalie.com/meal-prep-magica-registered-dietitian-explains-the-process/
Examples of Meal Plans: https://www.jennagorhamrd.com/meal-plans/
9 Meal Prep Tips from Dietitians: https://sharonpalmer.com/9-meal-prep-tips-dietitians/