5 Easy Steps For Meal Prepping

November 28, 2017

Beat cooking fatigue with a smart meal plan

Meal prep is preparing some or all your meals in advance. It doesn’t have to be about cooking your meals completely. It includes chopping up vegetables for recipes, washing fruits and vegetables, portioning out nuts or other food items for snacks. It is a simple process that helps to save time on grocery shopping and can make cooking much more fun and healthy. Here’s how to approach meal prepping in five easy steps.

Step 1: Assess your goals

One of the most common misconceptions is that meal prep is only for fitness enthusiasts. Meal plans are a helpful tool for everyone, whether you are a college student trying to eat healthy or a working mom shuffling between chores. Here are some of the reasons why people get interested in meal prep:

  • Making better food choices
  • Making meals more exciting
  • Preventing food waste
  • Saving money on groceries
  • Reducing the time spent on shopping and cooking meals

Step 2: Create a plan

Another misconception about meal prep is that it’s rigid, inflexible and must have only home- cooked meals. The beauty of weekly meal prepping is that you can craft it to fit your needs and schedule while giving yourself room to experiment. The following points will help you create a smart plan:

  • Number of meals (breakfast/lunch/dinner)
  • Weekly activities (gym/art class/nights out/others)
  • Type of meals (slow-cooked/quick/grilled/others)
  • How to remember (a piece of paper/food journal/others)
  • Backup options (eggs/cereal/healthy takeaway/others)

Step 3: Collect recipes

Choosing recipes is the best part! Browsing through those mouthwatering dishes on Pinterest, blogs and cookbooks can be fun. Yet you shouldn’t just save a few recipes you like and hope for the best. Keep the following points in mind during your research:

  • Make a list of recipes you know by heart, and add a couple of new ones
  • Have a family to feed? Look for recipes with large serving quantities. They will yield tasty leftovers for the next day.
  • Look for recipes with ingredients that you already have. It helps reduce the time spent on shopping for new ingredients.

Step 4: Time to shop

If you want to make your meal plan a success, you have to shop purposefully. A grocery list is your best defence against impulse buys and helps you to shop quickly and efficiently. The following tips can be useful if you are on a budget:

  • Shop by category: Group items on your list into categories like meat, vegetables, and frozen items, and shop accordingly.
  • Select seasonal produce: Seasonal produce is always abundant, fresh and cheap compared to other items.
  • Choose available ingredients: If certain items are expensive or difficult to find at your local supermarket, go for ones that you are familiar with.
  • For the days when you are just not up for cooking, buy a few things you can turn into meals without prep.
  • Stock up on Ziploc bags and airtight containers for meal batching.

Step 5: Meal batching

The fridge can help you spend less time in the kitchen and more time doing the things you love. It’s the secret of meal batching, which is prepping for your weekly meals within one day and refrigerating/freezing them until it’s time to cook. After you shop, spend some time chopping, dicing, marinating and pre-cooking ingredients. The rules below will help you meal prep safely:

  • Read this chart that shows how long food items can be frozen. Most vegetables can be kept for up to a year, but things like potatoes and pasta don’t react well to the cold.
  • Store food according to the portions you will need. If you are serving four people, store as four individual servings.
  • Eliminate excess air before wrapping the food to avoid damage from the cold.
  • Defrost food in the refrigerator, not out in the open. It helps prevent the growth of bacteria.

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