https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44obkMlbYPI Meal prep can sound intimidating at first, but it’s actually a fantastic way to save time and money if you do it right. Plus, it’s not that hard if you follow these easy tips, which will have you whipping up delicious meals in no time! The benefits of solid meal prep can include less food waste, less confusion on what to make, and less money spent on dining out. Let’s break it down in an easy way.
Make a Plan
First things first, get inspired and make a plan. There are a ton of awesome recipes out there to try, and great resources to use. PlantX has a whole recipe section on the website, Pinterest is great for visual inspiration, you can try out a new cookbook and work your way through it, or there are even meal planning apps that you can use. A helpful tip is to try and set days during the week for a specific style of meal that you love and to try and just rotate the ingredients to keep things fresh. For example, every Tuesday you have tacos, but some weeks it’s lentil mushroom tacos, and others it’s tempeh tacos. Some other ideas using the theme concept for lunch/dinner:
Schedule it in
Take a look at your schedule ahead of time and make sure that there is a day that works for you to get started on your prep. It’s good to pick a day during the week that allows you some extra time to make a few additional things to prep. It’s easier to meal prep when you’re already in the kitchen making something. It’s another form of multitasking but it’s efficient when it comes to preparing ingredients which is the next step. For example - Are you roasting some veggies in the oven? Well then toss in some tofu too or make extra veggies for your busy day tomorrow. This is a great way to avoid spending too much time in the kitchen and is more energy-efficient too.
Next thing is to prepare your ingredients to be set up for success. This means making batches of things that you use frequently such as rice, quinoa, hummus, dressings, baked tofu, or baked/chopped veggies. Store all of these in containers in your fridge. It’s so handy because this allows you to build a “salad bar” in your fridge by having containers packed with your favorite ingredients ready to be used at a moment's notice, to easily create something delicious. The build a salad bar concept works great for things like easy salads, bowls, or wraps, easily with all ingredients set and ready to go. Remember to store your prepped ingredients separately. This helps ensure that you’re getting a variety of different foods, by mixing and matching what items you take from the fridge. This
also helps things stay their freshest such as cooked grains, which are ideal to store separately. You can label the containers if the amount of them in the fridge feels overwhelming. *Tip- Building a buddha bowl is an awesome weekday meal hack as they are nutritious, quick, and versatile. By using some of the prepared ingredients mentioned above, all that you would have to do is toss them into a bowl with a sauce or dressing and you’re all set. This is a real-time saver! Handy Food Storage Equipment:
- Mason jars - the cheapest option
- Snap-lock containers - choose BPA free
- Resealable bags - great for the freezer, and easy to reuse - just wash with soap and water and dry.
Nutrition Check it
Next, do a quick nutritional value check with each meal. You want variety in your meals to make sure that you are getting all the nutrients that you need. Aim for meals that include 3 to 4 of the following:
*Tip - Aim to never get bored with these quick and easy meals by using an array of different veggies, nuts/seeds, or protein sources. Sometimes switching up a few basic ingredients such as using different herbs or dressings, can transform a similar dish into a whole new flavor.
- Whole grains
- Legumes or soy
- Nuts or seeds
It’s also important to avoid over prepping by setting yourself up for only 2-3 days ahead at a time. This allows for less waste and you’re less likely to get sick of the options available. Plus, if you did prepare a little too much, it’s likely to last a few extra days and you won’t have to waste it. Having too much food prepped can lead to overeating, so aim to find balance with your meal plan. Look for fun ways to use up what you have on hand. For example, if you have an excess of quinoa and are not sure what to do, glance over Pinterest quickly or search online to find an easy recipe including quinoa that inspires you. If you don’t have all the ingredients on hand, simply switch them out for the ones that you do! If a recipe calls for potato and you only have yams, that’s ok. Go for it and add it all together, you may surprise yourself at what you come up with. *Tip- Buy lots of frozen fruits and veggies to help shave off some of my prep time. Plus these veggies/fruits are usually frozen right after being picked, meaning they generally are the freshest option. Plus no chopping required. And that’s a wrap on a basic but important way to meal prep. Remember to have fun with it, and make it as simple as you need it to be. Happy prepping!