Spending a little extra time to prepare healthy food for the week not only saves money and reduces food waste, it can help with weight control, improve your diet and reduce stress when it comes to deciding what to eat. Make successful meal prep a habit with this simple guide.
The first thing to do is to carve out time once a week to work out your meal plan. Consider your weekly work, family and social commitments and what days you will put aside to prep and cook. For example, could you do some batch cooking on Sunday to portion up and freeze or refrigerate?
While your social feed may provide you with plenty of healthy eating inspiration in the form of the hashtags #mealprep, there’s no reason to get bogged down trying to prepare 20 containers of food and wind up overwhelmed. Begin by planning out just a few meals or snacks for the week ahead and build upon your plan as you see fit. Remember the best meals for prep are simple, freezable or re-heatable (i.e. can keep in the fridge for up to four days).
Once you've figured out a few easy meals, make a weekly shopping list and stick to it. While the list may change as you build upon your weekly repertoire, it’s important to stock your fridge with key staples that pair well together, such as quality proteins (e.g. meat, fish, tofu) and vegetables, and then fill in the gaps by maintaining essential pantry items to help improve the efficiency of your meal planning efforts.
Consider recipes that you can cook in large amounts so you can reuse in different meals or automatically have food already prepped for the next day’s lunch or dinner. For example, cook larger batches of whole grains, such as brown rice or quinoa, and then divide the grains into portions to store in fridge or freeze. You could also chop, slice, or grate extra vegetables so you have them prepared and stored ready for stir-fries, frittatas or meat or plant-based patties. Not only does this save me time and clean up, it also encourages you to add more veggies to dishes. Do the same with fruit so you always have a quick snack on hand or can add to Bircher, smoothies, and salads.
Invest in good containers. Food storage containers are one of the most essential meal prep tools. Having the right size containers to store leftovers to take for lunch or store in the freezer makes it easier (and more enjoyable) to prep and store food. Most importantly, each container will need to fit the meals you want to prepare and fit into your fridge or freezer easily (note: opt for a . variety of sizes). Also look for BPA-free, microwave safe, and have leak-proof lids.