Meal Prep For Beginners
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Nutrition—the good and the bad—is widely talked about. Therefore most people know at least the basics on what they should and shouldn’t eat. But, making those changes is easier said than done. That’s where meal prep comes in.
What Is Meal Prep?
Meal Prep is basically prepping and/or making all or some of your meals ahead of time. It’s like having the convenience of those frozen burritos or mac and cheese dinner ready to pop in the microwave, except you, make them yourself with healthier, unprocessed ingredients.
With the fast paced world we live in, it’s no surprise the convenience of pre-made foods is so attractive. You’re busy, you’re exhausted, and the last thing you want to do is think about what you can eat that’s healthy and quick—and a plus if YOU don’t have to make it.
That’s where meal prep is fantastic.
Get the tools you need. Having a great set of containers is a biggie. You want to be able to see what’s in the containers without having to open them. Also, no one wants their foods to mix together, so compartments are another thing to look for. These are an excellent choice. Here are some other things to consider.
Make a plan. Make your meal plan for the week. Not sure where to start with meal planning? Check out my last blog. Choose which meals you will be prepping for based on your weekly schedule. Pick meals that you might struggle with because of busy days, work, etc. Make your grocery list and hit the grocery store. Stick to your list!
Pick your day. For most, Sundays are the best choice. They are off work, and kids are home so you can have them help you out in the kitchen. Remember to start with 3 or 4 meals and add in more as you get more experienced. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself on the first day.
Those who have meal prepping for a while using Sundays and Wednesdays to prep. That way you aren’t doing it all in one day and so your food for the end of the week is fresher. But choose one or two days that work for you.
Now it’s time for the kitchen.
Learn to multitask. Cook multiple foods at one time by using all your oven space. There’s no need to cook one item at a time. Cook different veggies on one pan by using foil to separate them. Or use multiple ovens pans. Pinterest has a ton of great “one pan meals” that are simple to make.
Start simple. Chicken is a meal prep favorite. It’s versatile, easy to cook, inexpensive and healthy. You can cook your chicken, make a couple different vegetables and sides and have three entirely different meals. Use it in salads, wraps, as the main dish, etc.
Wash, cut, portion out and store. Even if you aren’t going to cook your veggies a head of time, it’s nice to be able to reach and the fridge and grab what you need. Before storing your fruits and vegetables after your grocery store trip, get them ready for grab and go snacks. This way you are more likely to grab them over a prepackaged snack, and you stick to the proper portions.
Utilize your Crockpot and/or Instant Pot. These are often overlooked but are amazingly helpful when you are busy or forget to take something out. I have both and love them both for different meals. The Crockpot, I can toss my ingredients in and come back hours later to a fully cooked meal. It’s fantastic for those busy days you just don’t have time to stand over the stove.
The Instant Pot is my favorite. It cooks super quick and has saved me on a number of occasions—I often forget to take meat out of the freezer and end up struggling to throw dinner together. I can toss frozen chicken in, and less than 30 mins later I have tender, juicy, delicious chicken. If you don’t have one, you should look into one. Here’s a video I did making boiled eggs with my Instant pot in FOUR minutes.
It’s not going to be perfect the first time you meal prep. You might run into some snags. It might take you longer than you planned. But, it gets easier, it gets better, and it will make a world of difference in the time you save throughout the week.
Just remember to start small and add in more meals as you get more comfortable with meal prep. Try new recipes. Try new foods. Have fun with it!