Prepping your meals ahead of time can help you make more mindful eating decisions and save time and money, but it can also be overwhelming. So here are 5 tips to make meal prep easier:
1️. Meal Prep, Not Plan: Some people like to map out their exact meals and don’t mind eating the same food all week, but this might not be the most straightforward approach. Instead, pick the meats, carbs and veggies you want for the week and batch cook them so they can easily be turned into a bunch of different meals. This takes less time and gives you food flexibility. From there, you can portion into individual containers for the entire week or only for the following day.
2. Look For Shortcuts: Frozen fruit and veggies are among the best and least expensive foods to use when meal prepping. If you prefer fresh produce, buying pre-cut is a huge time saver. If pre-cut isn’t in your budget, we suggest you prep before you prep! As soon as you get home from the store, before you put anything in the fridge, do all of the washing, peeling, cutting and chopping. This same concept applies to meat. Head to the freezer section and grab some pre-cooked frozen chicken, beef or shrimp. You could even purchase a fresh rotisserie chicken from the deli! Canned tuna is an easy, no-cook protein to add to salads or snacks for a more budget-friendly option.
3. Multi-Task: The more you have going at once, the more time you’ll save! Always have items roasting or baking in the oven and cooking on the stove simultaneously. While they are cooking, you can throw together “uncooked” things like salads, pre-measured baggies of fruit and protein powder for your smoothies, etc. Also, don’t forget about meals that cook themselves! Overnight oats and chia seed pudding are excellent no-cook, prep it, forget it, grab-and-go options!
4. Invest In Kitchen Gadgets: If you want to make multi-tasking even easier, buying a few kitchen gadgets is worth it! Things like a pressure cooker, veggie chopper and air fryer are excellent ways to speed up meal prep! Oh, and don’t forget about a slow cooker! You can “cook” while you sleep or are at work!
5. Overlap Ingredients: We believe the best approach is to keep it simple. A protein, a carb, a veggie and a healthy fat that keeps or freezes well – that’s all you need. Then you can individualize each meal with different condiments and seasonings. But if you prefer creative recipes, find ones that use the same protein, carbs and veggies but use different herbs, sauces or seasonings.
Meal prep is just like diet and exercise – there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Don’t overcomplicate things, use a method that is best for your lifestyle and, most importantly, one you can stick to.