One of the main issues that people seem to have with eating healthier is planning ahead and knowing how to do it. My clients, and friends, genuinely want to stick with a plan but life can throw us curve balls and we find ourselves in the drive thru. Meal prepping can really go a long way to prevent that from happening plus take a lot of stress out of meal time too! In this post, I hope to give you some tips that will help you get started and enable you to stick to your plan to eat more whole foods and be a good steward of your body! Let's get started!
#1 First off, you are going to need containers before you prep a single thing! You have to have something to put all that food in once you are done chopping, cutting and cooking. BPA plastic, or glass, is best. It should be airtight, freezer and dishwasher safe, have dividers if needed, clear so you can see what's in them, all the same size so they are stackable and lastly reusable!
#2 Next, pick a day to do your meal prep. It doesn't have to be the same day of the week every week, although Sunday seems to be a popular day. Second to that is Wednesdays. It really doesn't matter what day you choose, just make sure to set aside 2-4 hours to do your prep. You can shorten this time by having your spouse, a friend or family chip in and help! It can be fun and inspirational to others! Plus they will see how easy it really is and how worth it is too! The time to do this will vary quite a bit depending on the size of your family.
#3 Now, you need to take stock of what you have in your freezer, pantry/cabinets and fridge. make a list of dry goods, canned goods, meats, sauces, etc.. so you don't buy more unless it's needed. Most of us have things in our kitchen that we haven't used, either because they have been forgotten or we don't know how. This is a good time to google recipes using something you might have on hand and try a new recipe! Just keep it simple for your first time around--you'll be a pro in no time ready for more complicated recipes!
#4 You are now ready to pick the meals you want to make. Here is my sincere suggestion to you: Start with 3 meals and make them as simple as possible. This lessens stress, frustration and time. Once you get the hang of it, which happens pretty quickly, then you can do more meals and plan for an entire week or more! For now, just get your feet wet!
#5 Be a multi-tasker while you prep! You can have more than one thing in your oven cooking, something in the crock pot, the Instant Pot and on the stove. This will really cut down on time, but it's also another reason to keep it SIMPLE the first time you are doing meal prep.
#6 Which brings me to a couple of appliance that I could not do without in my kitchen when it comes to prepping; My CrockPot and my Instant Pot(I actually have TWO of these!). These are life savers, time savers and flavor givers. Plus, I can get them out once a week, cook what I need to and put them away and be done with them until another time. I hate getting things in and out of the cabinets day in and day out, don't you????
#7 Produce Tip: Wash and cut up ahead of time. Fresh, cut up veggies can quickly be added to salads, omelets, in wraps and other dishes. Pre-cut fruit can be used in yogurt, cereal, added to smoothies, made into fruit salad and more. ***You will find yourself eating more fresh veggies and fruit because it's ready and available to you!
#8 Be sure your meals have a healthy protein (and make sure it's from a clean source!) plenty of veggies and low glycemic carbs. Your plate should really be about half veggies and the other half divided between your protein and carb.
#9 Write down ideas and recipes you come across so you have somewhere to begin each time you meal plan. Make note of favorites and those that are easy for you to prep ahead of time. Write down what you needed to do differently if something didn't work out the week before.
#10 Have grace for yourself! This is a learning process but once you get it down, it makes life much easier AND you will find yourself enjoying meal time even more!
Happy Prepping! it is really worth the effort to do this, I promise! The weeks I focus and get this done are weeks I have more time to enjoy my family because I'm not in the kitchen every evening for hours. I make a rather large mess ONCE and then the rest of the week there is less to clean up leaving more time for what's important. Prepping can be quality family time and teach kids invaluable lessons on health and nutrition too!
Please, leave any comments, your own tips or questions below!