If you’re looking to save time and maintain your healthy eating goals then meal prepping may be the way forward. The concept, working ahead of time to reduce stress at meal times, may seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Planning and preparing in advance will keep it stress-free while ensuring your time is spent efficiently.
There are so many ways to meal prep; it is about finding the methods that work for you and your lifestyle. Here are a few tips to help you start your meal prep journey.
1. Start small
A day spent in the kitchen prepping a meal is nobody’s idea of fun; instead, plan out meals for two or three days. Find the areas in which you struggle. For example, if you want to eat a healthier breakfast but don’t have the time to prepare in the morning, or if your lunch hour has become too reliant on the restaurant down the road and you want to save money, start by preparing solutions in advance. Preparing the meals you need will keep you motivated as opposed to preparing a whole weeks’ worth of meals that may end up being wasted.
2. Recipes vs components
Batch cooking one meal and eating it over the course of three days is an excellent time saver, however, it won’t be long until it becomes boring and repetitive. Rather than making different recipes, prepare components for meals such as brown rice, roasted vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, chicken, tofu and sweet potatoes. You can now pick and chose what you want every day, bringing some diversity into your meal time. A variety of proteins, grains and vegetables will build nutritionally balanced meals keeping you full and satisfied for longer.
3. Foods that do & don’t work
It is important to note that not everything can be prepared in advance. As food sits in the refrigerator, it naturally begins to decrease in quality. Therefore, it is vital that we prepare items that can withstand a couple of days in the fridge as this prevents having to throw out any food that is starting to go bad. Pre-cooked meats, grains (do not reheat rice!), pasta & beans are ideal for storing in the fridge along with roasted vegetables, nuts and seeds. Softer fruit & vegetables such as berries, apples, cucumber or lettuce tend to become unpleasant after a few days and any crackers or chips will become soft.
4. Keep Your Workspace Clean
Before you begin any cooking, having a clean and clutter-free workspace will make it a lot easier. Make sure your sink is free of any dishes, your dish rack is clear and your dishwasher is empty. Doing these steps before you begin cooking will mean that you can clean as you go, preventing pots & pans from piling up. Kitchen hygiene is incredibly important when doing any cooking or preparation. Make sure any countertops that may have been in contact with raw meat are thoroughly disinfected, as well as keeping separate chopping boards allocated for meat, fish & vegetables to prevent possible cross-contamination.
There is no right or wrong way to meal prep, take the time to find your feet and you will discover what suits you.