Most people know that preparing meals ahead of time can save them the headache of wondering what to eat when it comes time for a meal. However, if you have never done it before or if you are not usually the type to cook, this process can appear extremely daunting. Just opening up Instagram and seeing tons of #MEALPREP with 35 Tupperware containers neatly laid out on a table is enough to turn many people off to the task.
Well good news - it does not have to be that difficult! In this guide, I will provide some tips on how you can easily get started on your meal prep journey and make it work for your lifestyle.
1. Make a schedule. Decide which day you will do your shopping/cooking and put it in your schedule. Some people prefer to get it all done on Sunday, while others choose to split the week by preparing food on Sunday and Wednesday, for example. Decide what works best with your schedule and stick to it!
2. Start by preparing just ONE MEAL per week. Identify the one meal that causes you the most stress and start there. Very often this can be lunch, if you find yourself struggling with finding a healthy option on your lunch break. Whichever meal that is for you, prioritize it with your prep. Prepare 5 of these meals plus a snack for your work week lunches (if that is your trouble meal) and this will take the guessing out of what to eat. It could also leave you some time to enjoy a walk or some reading on your break!
3. Have a plan before you go shopping and KEEP IT SIMPLE! Decide exactly what foods you need for your prep and stick to the plan. For example, purchase enough vegetables for the week that you can roast, steam, or even microwave (because frozen veggies are one of life's great conveniences!). Grab a bag of rice or some potatoes for your starch, and some chicken / ground turkey / beef / tofu etc. for your protein. This will save you time and money in the grocery store. Don't forget to include healthy snacks you can easily portion out, such as fruit, nuts, or hummus and veggies to dip.
4. Going back to keeping it simple, it is also in your best interest to multitask! For example, you can have your veggies and potatoes simultaneously roasting in the oven while your ground turkey with peppers and onions is on the stove. Or you can have your chicken baking in the oven while your rice is cooking. A lot of first time meal preppers become overwhelmed by just the process of preparing all of the components of a meal, but when you multitask, it makes it SO much easier.
5. Utilize kitchen tools that do the work for you. Some of these tools tools include a slow cooker, rice cooker, and the newly famous air fryer. These tools allow you to literally set it and forget it. The only time you will spend preparing the food is the time it takes to season, chop and measure. I know many people who "have one and never use it." Well, now is the time to use it! If you're not sure how, a quick Google search can give you a quick education. Do not worry if you don't have these tools, because meal prep can still be a breeze if you follow the rest of these steps.
6. Make sure you have containers on hand. Since you will be reusing them, make sure you purchase containers that are reusable, stackable, microwavable and dishwasher safe. Also, make sure you have lots of zip-lock bags on hand for snacks.
So remember, meal prep does not have to be stressful and once you get it down, it is SO worth it! You will eat healthier, you will feel less stressed and you will create some more time in your day for important tasks or just some extra rest.
I hope this helps, and please feel free to ask me any questions you may have!