Meal prep is a great way to ensure that you are eating a healthy, balanced diet. It can also help you to perfect recipes that you enjoy, making it more likely that you will stick with any diet changes.
Meal prep can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. Here are some tips to get you started:
Plan your meals
Before you can start meal prepping, you need to make a plan of what meals you will be making for the week ahead. This can be done on a piece of paper or using a meal planning app. Ensure that you include any snacks that you may need to prepare, as well as a list of ingredients that you will need. You should also check the fridge, freezer and pantry to see what you already have. This will help reduce food waste.
Your meal plan will help you determine how many meals you need to cook each week and which days you will be preparing them. It will also allow you to shop for the ingredients needed for those meals. This can be a great way to save money, especially if you are buying items in bulk or shopping for sales.
For example, if you are making chicken for dinner one night and there is a good sale on it, then it would be worth buying more than you need and freezing the extra pieces for another time. This will help to reduce the number of times you buy takeaway meals or go out to eat. It will also help to keep your diet varied and interesting. You could even use your meal plan to make sure you have a few meals ready for when you get home after a long day, such as soups and stews or salads.
Shop for ingredients
Whether you’re shopping in-store or online, use personalized recipe suggestions based on your diet and food preferences to build your menu for the week. You’ll be able to find recipes that include core ingredients you already have on hand and then just tap to add everything at once to an organized grocery list.
Shop for meal prep ingredients with a focus on whole grains like brown rice, quinoa and bulgur. These foods are higher in fiber, which can help you feel full and keep your hunger at bay throughout the day.
Try to shop for meal prep ingredients that are a mix of raw and cooked items. This helps ensure that you have a variety of meals to choose from for lunch and dinner during the week. It’s also a good idea to look for recipes that require minimal amounts of certain ingredients, like one that calls for five core ingredients or less. For example, tuna melts are a simple but delicious option that only requires canned tuna, bread, mayonnaise and cheese.
If you’re new to meal prep, start with just a few recipes that are easy to prepare ahead of time. This will help you get comfortable with the process and figure out what works best for your schedule. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can start cooking more complicated meals or even making homemade frozen meals to eat throughout the week.
Prep your food
Meal prepping can be as simple as preparing leftovers for lunch or cooking enough food for three to five meals at once. But the process can be more complex, depending on your needs and health goals. It can help you stay on track with dietary goals, save time and money and reduce food waste.
Meals that require reheating are the most commonly prepped, but you can also prepare ingredients that will be used in other recipes. This could include roasted vegetables, washed greens, hard-boiled eggs, frozen smoothie packs or canned beans. The meal preparation part of the process can be a bit overwhelming at first, but it will get easier as you practice.
The best way to reduce your prep time is to plan ahead and work efficiently. Organize your tasks by starting with the foods that take the longest to cook and working through your list. This will help you avoid having to re-start a task later in the day if something goes wrong.
Another key tip is to label your containers and keep track of when you made them. This will help prevent food waste if you are unsure how long your meals will last in the fridge or freezer. It is also a good idea to store any perishable items in the front of your refrigerator and at eye-level so they will be easily visible.
Cook your food
Before you can begin prepping your food, it’s important to decide on a cooking strategy. A popular meal prep method is batch cooking, which involves preparing multiple portions of a particular recipe at one time. This saves you time by allowing you to prepare several different ingredients while one is cooking or soaking. This technique is especially useful if you’re counting calories.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned meal prepper, it’s important to find a method that works for your personal needs and lifestyle. Some people choose to cook full meals or recipes, while others prefer to focus on specific foods or meals that hold up well to reheating.
When planning your recipes, be sure to account for how long the food will last in the fridge. You don’t want to spend a lot of time preparing food only to find that it spoils before you can eat it. Alternatively, you can freeze any unfinished meals or leftovers.
When beginning meal prep, it’s a good idea to start with recipes that are simple and familiar. This will help you get comfortable with the process and build your confidence in the kitchen. Over time, you can experiment with new recipes and techniques to find what’s right for you.