Once you get home from work, you should have cooked dinner, eaten it, and cleaned up. Not so fun when it seems as though it’s nearly the end of the day. Prepare your meals in advance using a system that simplifies cooking and lets you plan your menu around your schedule, so you don’t have to spend your evening fumbling through a 16-step recipe.
What is Meal Prepping, Anyway?
Food preparation methods such as meal prepping can be described in several ways, but it’s essentially organizing leftovers for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Benefits of Meal Prepping
By purchasing and preparing home-cooked food in advance, you can save time and money. Most people shop and cook on the weekends, which may fit better with your schedule than trying to squeeze it into the workweek. In addition to helping you eat healthier, meal prepping can help you plan your menu. There is less chance that you will choose a less-than-ideal option when you already have a healthy dinner in the house.
If you don’t have enough time to grab ingredients and prepare your meals on your own, Iron Bodies and Minds can provide meal prep services in Sacramento.
Now, let’s dive into the 10 tips and tricks to effectively implement a meal plan and prep so you can have more time to spare for important things in your life.
10 Tips for Effective Meal Prep
1. Plan Your Meals
You will be healthier and will save money by cooking more at home. Having a little planning will allow you to squeeze it into even the busiest schedule. To get the most out of your time in the kitchen, plan it out well in advance. Make a list of what you will make each day for the week in advance. It might even be better to outline for each week: chili on Monday, pasta on Thursday, and tacos on Friday. Having an idea of what to expect makes planning easier, and some kids particularly appreciate knowing what to expect.
2. Choose Easy Recipes
Make it simple. Roasted vegetables and Turkey Chili are simple to make and reheat. While fish stews and lasagna are more labor-intensive, they may not stay as fresh. You can save a recipe in a file or spreadsheet when you find one you like. Create a shopping list of all the ingredients you’ll need, along with how much you’ll need. Tools such as apps and websites can help you calculate exact measurements.
3. Make a Detailed Shopping List
You can waste a lot of time and money by going to the grocery store without a shopping list.
When you make a list, you stay focused and avoid buying food you have no intention of using just because it’s on sale.
A few larger grocery chains offer the option to shop online and have your groceries delivered or picked up at a specific time, depending on where you live.
While there may be fees associated with these services, they are a great way to save time and avoid long lines and the distractions of promotions you would encounter in a store.
4. Shop Once
Choose a shopping day that works with your schedule once you have your list. Visiting the local farmers market on Saturday or going to the supermarket in the week when it’s not crowded maybe your favorite thing to do. Always make sure you purchase what you need. When you get home, don’t be overwhelmed by a week’s worth of groceries. It’s not necessary to go shopping and cook on the same day.
5. Pick a Prep Day
You can prepare healthy meals on hectic days by cooking more food at once. Prepare as many of your dishes as you can on a particular day every week. Don’t forget to have fun! Have some good music playing. Cook up some delicious food with friends. Consider making it a family affair so everyone gets a job that corresponds to their age. Rather than tackling a full week of meals at once, prep meals for two or three days at a time and prepare another dish later in the week.
6. Think About Cooking Time
During prep day, begin with foods that require more time on the stove or in the oven: meat, vegetables, quinoa, beans, and roasted vegetables. After you’ve got those pots and pans ready, go ahead and do quick tasks like washing lettuce or chopping carrots and celery into convenient snack-size portions. To avoid pre-cooking your meat, marinate it so it will be ready to be thrown into the pan or oven when you need it.
7. Batch Cook
Cooking in bulk refers to making large quantities of a particular food to be used in different ways during the week. Cooking during the week can be time-consuming, so this method is especially useful if you lack time to cook.
For salads, stir-fries, scrambles, or grain bowls, cook a large batch of quinoa or rice and roast a tray of vegetables, tofu, or meat at the beginning of the week.
If you wish, you can also prepare chicken, tuna, or chickpea salad to add to salads, serve with crackers, or use in sandwiches.
8. Pre-portion Your Meals
When you’re trying to consume a particular amount of food, preparing your meals ahead of time in individual containers is an excellent meal prep strategy.
Fitness enthusiasts and athletes use this method to monitor their calorie and nutrient intake closely. It’s also a good way to promote weight loss or even just to get ahead during crunch time.
Prepare a large meal with four to six servings to take advantage of this method. Serve each portion in its own container and place each in the refrigerator or freezer. Just reheat it when you need it.
9. Stay Organized
When you are done packing and preparing, don’t just leave everything in the fridge or freezer. Clearly label the containers with the contents and the date. Place the stuff you use first near the front, so it’s easier for you to find. Foods like herbs and chopped fruit that go bad the fastest should be placed at eye level so you don’t forget about them.
10. Make It Enjoyable
Your new meal planning habit will be more likely to stick if it’s something you enjoy. If you reframe it as a form of self-care instead of something you have to do, it will be easier to achieve.
You might want to make meal preparation a family affair if you’re the household chef. Make these activities quality time spent with your family rather than a chore. You can chop veggies together or batch cook soup so that you’re ready for the week.
Take advantage of your free time while meal prepping by listening to your favorite music, a podcast, or an audiobook. In no time at all, it will become a favorite activity.
Choosing healthier food options and saving time and money can be accomplished by planning and preparing meals.
Developing a sustainable meal planning habit that works for your unique lifestyle appears difficult at first, but there are a variety of tactics you can use.
It is also possible to avail of meal prep services if you do not have the luxury of time on your plate.
Iron Bodies and Minds has a meal prep solution to fit any schedule, whether you juggle a 9-5 job, family obligations, or other commitments. Healthy inspired meals are available at affordable prices to help you reach your health and fitness goals.