Have you been struggling to prepare meals in advance due to your busy lifestyle?
Meal prepping is a great way to save time, money, and maintain a healthy diet. However, it can be challenging to know where to start.
By breaking down the process into simple, easy-to-follow steps, you can make meal planning accessible and enjoyable. In this article, we’ll go through a step-by-step guide to help you get started with meal prepping.
Whether you’re new to meal planning or just looking for some new ideas, you’ll find everything you need to make delicious, healthy meals that fit your lifestyle. Grab a pen and paper, and let’s get started!
Choose Your Recipes
The first step to meal planning is to choose which meals you want to make for the week.
It’s essential to choose recipes that you enjoy eating. The first step in selecting your recipes is to consider your dietary needs and preferences. If you have any dietary restrictions, such as gluten or dairy intolerance or specific allergies, seek out recipes that fit those requirements.
Next, consider the ingredients that you have readily available in your pantry and fridge. You may base some of your dishes around ingredients that you already have and complement them with additional ingredients that you’ll need to buy during your next shopping trip. Also, keep in mind the season or occasion, and consider your cravings while choosing your recipes.
Lastly, it’s important to select recipes that are easy to prepare and that you can make in bulk. You could choose recipes that involve simple ingredients, require minimal effort but can be quickly batch-cooked, such as one-pot dishes, soups, or stews. Selecting recipes that use similar ingredients in some meals for a week reduces both the shopping and cooking time.
By keeping these factors in mind, you can select recipes that are both enjoyable and practical for your meal prep routine.
Always carefully consider what you are choosing, as it makes a difference in your meal prepping experience.
Create Your Shopping List
Once you’ve selected your recipes, create a shopping list that includes all the ingredients you need for the week.
Creating your grocery list is essential to be sure that you are prepared and have everything you need for your meal prepping.
Start by reviewing the recipes you’ve chosen, and note what ingredients you already have and what you’ll need to buy. Check your pantry and fridge to see what you already have to hand. Then, list everything you need to shop for, and group the ingredients by category for easy shopping.
When creating your shopping list, always remember your dietary requirements and make sure you have everything you need to meet them. Be sure to add whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables, and any special items you need for your dietary preferences. If you are meal prepping for a week, then buying in bulk can be more cost-effective so consider the quantities needed.
It is also a good idea to double-check your list before heading out to the store.
Ensure there are no duplicates, and you’ve listed everything you need. Check for coupons, rebates, or specials on certain items that you can save on to stretch every penny.
An organized grocery list can help you get in and out of the store faster and avoid unnecessary shopping costs.
With providing a detailed list, you will reduce your time in the store by knowing exactly what you need to get. The ultimate goal of meal prepping is to be more efficient while enjoying healthy meals. Creating an organized shopping list can help you start on the right foot.
Set Aside Time For Prepping
Once you have chosen your recipes and created your shopping list, the next step is to consider the time you’ll need to prep your meals.
The time you set aside for prepping depends on your schedule, the number of meals you’re prepping, and how comfortable you are with your meal prep routine. It’s essential to set aside enough time for prepping, as it will make it easier for you to maintain the habit and achieve your goals.
Here are some tips on how to set aside enough time to make meal prep work for you:
- Plan for a dedicated meal prep day. Dedicate a day of the week to meal prep, consider using your free days preferably over the weekend. Depending on the time available, you may prep meals for a few days, a week, or even the whole month. Keeping whatever you’ve prepped in the fridge, freezer or meal prep containers.
- Calculate the time required for each recipe. Before beginning to prep, assess the time each recipe requires. If it’s your first time meal prepping, you may underestimate how long it takes to cook or slice certain ingredients. Make sure to add extra time to your planned prep time so that you’re not rushing to finish.
- Keep it simple at first. Start with simple meals that are easy to prep and can be scaled up in quantity. As you become more comfortable with the routine, you can start trying more complicated recipes.
- Multi-task while cooking. While dinners or lunch items are cooking, prepare other meals or ingredients simultaneously, e.g., Seasoning and grilling chicken breasts while preparing tomato sauce. Multi-tasking can save you time and increase productivity.
By following these tips, you can ensure that you have enough time for prepping and making your meal prepping journey a success.
Remember to be flexible with your schedule as events may occur that could throw your schedule off. With pre-planning and good time management, you should be able to reach your meal prepping goals without disrupting your routine.
Store Your Food
Storing your prepped food in a proper container is crucial for maintaining food quality to avoid unnecessary waste.
The goal is to safely store your meals, ensuring they are fresh, accessible, and eat within the required time frame. Here are some useful tips to help you store your prepped food properly:
- Invest in the right containers: Purchase containers that are airtight, microwave-safe, and freezer-safe. Glass or BPA-free plastic containers are reusable and can help you to save money over time.
- Label your containers: It’s essential to label your containers with each recipe and the date you made them. This makes it easier to keep track of what’s in your fridge or freezer, and when you need to eat your meals by.
- Follow the “first in, first out” rule: This rule helps you keep track of the dates of the food. It refers to the idea of using the oldest foods first before the newest ones.
- Store it in the right spot: Store prepped food in the right place in your fridge or freezer, making sure that the temperature of the fridge is at 40°F or lower and the temperature of the freezer is 0°F or lower.
- Freeze some meals: Meals that are not to be consumed within the next five days should be frozen. Divide your prepped food into single servings and place them in a microwave-safe container making it easy to reheat and consume without having to defrost the whole meal.
These tips will help you keep your prepped meals healthy, fresh, and flavorful for longer.
Properly storing your meals is an ideal strategy for maintaining healthy eating habits and avoiding food waste, which is essential when meal prepping.
Enjoy Your Meals
Enjoying your meals during meal prepping is important as it helps keep you motivated and inspired to continue with the routine.
To enjoy your meals, try to switch things up by modifying the recipe by adding or removing ingredients to create new flavors that suit your tastes.
Don’t be afraid to use leftovers to make new meals, use spices, and sauces to add unique flavors to each dish, and take a little extra time to plate your meals nicely.
Remember, meal prepping is meant to make your life easier, so don’t hesitate to reward yourself for your efforts by taking a break from cooking every once in a while and indulging in other favorite foods.
By following these simple tips, you’ll soon find that meal prepping can be a fun, creative and enjoyable experience.
Keeping it Simple
When it comes to meal planning, it’s a good idea to keep things simple.
Don’t feel like you have to plan elaborate meals every day of the week. Instead, opt for easy meals that can be scaled up in quantity, such as sheet pan dinners or one-pot meals. When selecting recipes, choose ones that use similar ingredients to cut costs and reduce food waste. Additionally, don’t forget to make meal prepping fun! Try experimenting with different recipes and cooking methods to keep things interesting and enjoyable for you. By following these tips, you can make meal planning a breeze and enjoy delicious, healthy meals every day.
Meal planning is the perfect solution for busy individuals who want to enjoy healthy, home-cooked meals without spending hours in the kitchen. By following these 5 easy steps for meal planning, you can make it easier to stick to your budget, develop healthier eating habits, and reduce mealtime stress.
Start small and work your way up to more elaborate meal plans as you become more comfortable with the process.
With a little planning and preparation, you can set yourself up for success in the kitchen and enjoy delicious, healthy meals every day.