How to Meal Prep for Beginners
Meal prepping is one of the fastest-growing food trends today and there’s plenty of reasons why. Not only is it a great way to save time and money but it also gives ample opportunity to reduce food waste in the kitchen while creating delicious meals your colleagues and friends will be jealous of. For some, meal prepping can seem arduous and complex. Maybe you think it’s something reserved specifically for experienced chefs or fitness gurus. But it’s not true! Anyone can become a master at the simple and effective planning system that is meal prepping.
Meal prepping is the simple act of preparing and portioning a meal or recipe to use later. Anyone who has packed up leftovers from last night's dinner for the next day's lunch has already mini-meal prepped without even thinking about it- easy right? Typically though, the best way to maximize the effects of meal prepping means preparing and packaging enough food for 3-7 days, like packing up your lunches for the whole week on a Sunday night instead of daily. This same technique can be used for breakfast and dinner, too!
There are a variety of ways to prepare future meals and the best part is that there is no right or wrong way to plan. While single-serve meals are the most common approach to meal prep, there are other types to choose from depending on your schedule, tastes, and dietary needs. These types of meal prep meals include:
- Full make-ahead meals: You cook an entire meal and store it in your fridge or freezer.
- Batch cooking or freezing: Make multiple meals, then portion and store them. This approach is useful for recipes you can easily cook in large amounts (like big pots of soup, quinoa, or mashed sweet potatoes).
- Meals for one: Prepare food and portion it in single-serving containers. (Usually enough to last a few days and is perfect for lunches or quick dinners).
- Ingredient prep: For people who like to cook and serve food all at once, just prepare parts of recipes. Chop veggies, mix spices, or marinate meat in advance to save time until you’re ready to cook!
Unlike processed ready-to-heat meals, the different methods of meal prepping give you much more control over what goes into your food. Say goodbye to questioning sketchy ingredients or eyeing up sodium levels, the new methods of meal prepping will help you feel good about the types of food you’re serving your family. Not to mention, it can make a hectic schedule much easier by taking the guesswork out of dinner.
Planning is a huge part of the meal prepping process. Once a week, we suggest making a menu of what types of meals you’d like to enjoy that week and what are goals you’d like to achieve. Maybe you are wanting to create a seamless breakfast routine or you are looking to save time in the evenings for the family game night as opposed to creating and cleaning up after meals in the kitchen. Once you have a goal in mind, the process can become much easier to help create the end results. For someone who is looking to be more efficient for dinners, we suggest batch-making meals, freezing, and then reheating for convenient entrees. Is breakfast a sore spot? Prep and portion fruit and freeze in storage containers for an easy smoothie-making kit. We also love to make different varieties of breakfast burritos, which can freeze in tin foil and reheat easily in the oven for a hot breakfast to go!
These days, everyone is busy. Maybe you are a supermom, balancing busy work schedules with some much-needed family time, or a single bachelor looking to enforce better eating habits. With these simple but effective tools, anyone can become better at meal prepping to a more healthy, sustainable, and budget-friendly future!
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