Ever wonder what all of the hullabaloo is about with meal prepping? Doesn’t it just take more time and create such a large mess? Well yes and no, let me explain why..
Meal prepping is considered planning and preparing food for more than one meal that you do not eat right away. Prepping food makes it much more convenient for lunches on a busy day, or dinner when you have no desire to cook and a drive thru sounds so tempting. Preparation can save you time, money and help you avoid those undesired extra pounds. Best part of meal prepping, it can be done for one individual, or an entire family. Adjust meals accordingly and enjoy your delicious creations!
There are 8 simple steps that will help you perfect that meal prep life:
Step 1: When meal prepping, pick a specific day (or days) that you can set aside time to focus on meal planning and prepping. Do your best to stick with this set day to allow the ease of prep into your life and stay there. Personally, I love meal prepping on Mondays since I have can dedicate time with minimal distractions. Occasionally, I can set aside time on Thursdays if there was not enough food prepared or the stability of the food won’t last a full week.
Step 2: Write out what you want to eat for the week. For example: you want smoothies for breakfast, chicken/veggies, a hearty soup and spaghetti for the other meals. List out all of the ingredients and then go shopping! Simple as that!
This part can seem to get expensive, especially when starting out. The best trick I can tell you, is to make your meals for the week as ‘similar’ as possible. Let me explain what I mean real quick. Chicken and veggies can be made separately, but they can also be combined in the soup. Just make sure you buy a bit more of each item. This will help save you money, but also, less food will go to waste! Save the spaghetti for a week you want to have homemade burgers and split the ground beef between the two meals.
Step 3: Unbag all of your items! Do not put it all away because you will just have to get them back out again! Also, it will help you remember what you have so you don’t miss any steps when cooking new creations or modifying old recipes. It is easy to go back to old habits and forget to add shredded carrots and spinach to your spaghetti to make a more complete meal. (Learn what a complete meal is here).
Step 4: Begin with the easy stuff! Wash your fruits and vegetables. Preheat the oven. Pull out needed equipment. Categorize meals into areas of the table. Creating some sort of organization helps the creativity flow. Feel free to crank up the music and dance a little!
Step 5: Start with the meal that has to cook the longest in the oven, or set up in the fridge. These can do their thing, while you continue to do your thing! You can also do anything that is super easy to get out of the way. It will help clean up your surroundings and save you a headache or potential frustrations.
Step 6: Clean as you go! Instead of saving all of your dishes until the very end, it is so much easier to clean and reuse pots, pans, or utensils. When I first started, I wanted to cry every time I finished meal prepping because of all the dirty work I had to do at the end. And, ‘dirty’ doesn’t do it justice. Unfortunately, I am a hot mess when it comes to cooking and can’t help but spill everything as I go so cleaning was always a total nightmare. One day, a friend told me to just wash and reuse a specific pan for the next meal and a light went off and my life was changed. I can guarantee you, it can and will save you some hairs from turning gray.
Step 7: Portion control! Once everything is cooked, cut, or mixed, separate evenly. Two chicken breasts were cooked, I can only eat half a breast in one sitting, so I split into 4 containers. If snacks are desired, portion out a handful of nuts into little baggies. These are just two examples of the endless possibilities, but it gives you an idea of how foods can be portioned out.
Step 8: The finishing touches! Garnish your soup with a sprinkle of cheese, put a small container of dressing on the side of your salad, cover your meals and refrigerate. Definitely empty the trash and start the dishwasher.
You just completed a full round of meal prepping! How do you feel? I promise it gets easier, and less time consuming as you go. It may feel like you are spending so much time doing this, but it is much less time when you compare the collective amount of time it takes to cook each individual day. Meal prepping also helps you stick to your goals. Be proud!
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