10 Tips for Easier, Faster, and Smarter Meal Prep
Meal prepping is a huge trend that has not only been circulating through the fitness, health, and wellness industries, but it’s taken the social media world by storm as well. It seems like every fitness enthusiast, celebrity, and suburban mother of three we know is taking advantage of the wonderful benefits of meal prep! If you’re considering trying meal prep, but aren’t sure where to begin or fear that changing your diet habits is too overwhelming to do on your own, then keep reading. Here are 10 tips for achieving easier, faster, and smarter meal prep.
- While meal prep can help you develop healthier eating habits and cut down on cooking time during the week, preparing your meals all at once can be a relatively time consuming undertaking. That’s why it’s important to set aside enough time so that you’re able to quickly and efficiently prepare all the food you need. It’s a good idea to create a weekly routine or schedule by picking a day or time you can easily stick with. Sundays or Mondays usually work best for most people, because it allows you to prepare food for the entire week, while having it be as fresh as possible.
- Meal prepping doesn’t have to be expensive; in fact, cooking in bulk can actually save you money, especially if you buy in bulk. Buying food like meats and poultry in bulk is ideal because they can be kept frozen virtually indefinitely, and can be thawed at a moment’s notice year round. You can also buy things like fruits and vegetables in bulk, but keep in mind that freezing these foods usually causes them to lose some nutritional value.
- Many people believe that meal prep means strictly preparing and cooking an entire week’s meals ahead of time, but that doesn’t have to be the case. If you want to avoid feeling like you’re eating soggy or stale leftovers by Friday, then consider “prepping the prep.” Prepping the prep means setting yourself up for cooking throughout the week to make your meals fresher. For example, simply gathering what you’ll need to cook for each meal ahead of time will save yourself time in the kitchen. Try packing up the ingredients separately and saving the actual cooking for the night before.
- Another great idea is to freeze sauces, soups, or seasoning combinations in an ice cube tray to use later in other general recipes. This way, they’ll be ready to go when you need them—just throw a cube or two in the pan while you’re cooking for quick and easy seasoning!
- For more variety and to avoid feeling like you’re eating the same meal every single day, try combining like ingredients or using the same base for multiple dishes. You’d be amazed at just how much switching up the sauces, seasonings, and sides of a meal can completely change the taste and feel of the dish! For example, try combining the chicken you cooked with a red sauce and pasta one day, a teriyaki sauce the next, tossed into a fresh salad the third, and tucked into a Caesar wrap the fourth. There are a ton of combinations that can be easily tried from day to day!
- Meal prep can be a lot of work, but not if you look for shortcuts. Try buying precooked meats or precut/peeled veggies that can be kept frozen until needed to save some precious time on the cutting board.
- If you find yourself too busy juggling work, family, and other obligations, then consider using a slow cooker or crockpot to cut down on even more time in the kitchen. Crockpots are great because they can do the cooking for you, either while you’re at work, running errands, or even while you’re sleeping.
- Meal prepping is made easier with an organized fridge, where every ingredient and container is within reach and kept fresh. Keep your fridge organized by labeling and dating each item to make sure it’s used before it goes bad. Always make sure you store each item correctly—some vegetables and fruits are meant to be stored in the crisper drawer, others are meant to be left out in the open. You can also freeze whatever will go bad, especially if you are planning on being away for a few days at a time.
- Our last tip is to shop smarter. Meal prepping actually begins in the grocery store. Use a list to remember everything you need it and organize based on the general location of each item within the store. Try to do your grocery shopping on Wednesdays, if possible, to avoid crowds or long lines.
- If you’d like any suggestions for easy meal prep recipe ideas, then check out this great article!
Meal prepping may take a little planning and a decent amount of time, but it doesn’t have to seem like an impossible feat. Meal prepping can be made easier, faster, and more efficient with these tips. Once you get the hang of it, meal prepping can actually be fun, and it can help you to eat and stay healthy. What are your favorite things to cook? Let us know in the comments below!