If you want to save time, money, or simply eat a healthier diet, meal prepping can help you reach your goals. Meal prepping is scheduling a certain block of time on one day a week to prepare for all of your upcoming meals. In contrast to meal planning where you follow recipes to fit your schedule best, meal prepping is the act of preparing meals or ingredients ahead of time and then storing them for future use. In meal prepping, you can choose to make and freeze entire meals ahead of time, prepare meals in individual containers for on-the-go lunches, or chop and store ingredients ahead of time. This can help you reduce food waste, save money, and eat a healthier diet as well. Ready to get started? Here are a few ways you can be successful on your first meal prep.
Start small If you are just starting with meal prep, it can sometimes feel overwhelming to plan an entire week’s worth of meals all at once. You might be more comfortable starting with just a few meals a week or picking just dinners, lunches, or snacks. You can already inject positive changes to your meal planning habits wherever you begin!
Make a checklist It is a good practice to spend time writing down everything you will need to do during your weekly meal prepping session. Get all your recipes and make a shopping list of the things you need. By doing this, you won’t miss anything and have the right ingredients on hand on prep day.
Invest in containers When you meal prep, you will be making meals or preparing ingredients for several days of meals at one time. This makes investing in a set of quality food storage containers very important as you will be reusing them each week. As it could take a few weeks before you figure out how many containers you will really need, so it would be good to start with a medium-size set and then just add more containers as needed. Keep in mind that glass containers are more eco-friendly and usually last longer than plastic.
Gather ingredients A few days before prep day, gather the ingredients on your shopping list. Start shopping in your pantry! Take stock of what you already have and what you actually need to buy. Rotating the food in your pantry regularly is also a good way to avoid wasting money on expired food items. In fact, if you can find recipes that use ingredients you already have, your meal prep will be more efficient.
Schedule enough time Meal prepping can take several hours, depending on how many and what type of meals you are preparing. Make sure to allot a good chunk of your time for your meal prepping session. To help make it a consistent part of your new meal planning system, it is good to do your meal prepping on the same day of the week and at the same time.
Prep smart Your ultimate goal might be to prep everything fresh or from scratch, but don’t feel guilty for taking a few shortcuts when you need to. For example, you can buy pre-cut vegetables if chopping vegetables takes up too much of your time (or you just don’t like doing it). Also, this is not yet the time to go for big or elaborate meals. While it is ideal to include all the basic food groups into your meal plan, if you find yourself struggling, scale back your meal prepping a bit. When you are more efficient in your meal prepping session, you are more likely to do it consistently every week.
Finally, keep in mind that meal prepping is different for everyone. Go ahead and experiment with different approaches until you find the one that works best for you.
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