Planning and preparing meals ahead of time is a great way to stay on track with healthy eating. With a little planning, meal prepping can save you money and provide greater control for getting the best nutrients into your body. Here are some helpful tips to make meal prep work for you….
Schedule Your Prep Time
While preparing during the week make work for some people, if you live a busy lifestyle this may be too much for you. Instead, schedule into your calendar you shopping day and your food prep time. Give yourself about 2-3 hours and plan for meals that can easily go in the freezer and come out to pop right onto a plate to warm up for breakfast, into a lunch bag or out to warm up when you return home. REMEMBER: This does not need to be done all at once. If you want to rotate, put that into your calendar too: 1st Sunday of the month can be dedicated to making breakfast meals, 2nd Sunday for lunches, 3rd Sunday for dinners. A great way to keep meal prepping on track is to schedule your time right after shopping at the grocery store, so use your calendaring tool for more than just work and meetings. Schedule your prep time too!
Focus on Ingredients Instead of Meals
Too often we are focused on a single dish that has a ton of prep steps with a bunch of different ingredients. This can be overwhelming too. The trick is to think of foods that are easy and convenient to prep and transform into different meals. What vegetables do you like that you can throw into a variety of meals? What proteins can you use as staples in a day? This will help in making the meals take 5-10 minutes instead of 50. Great examples would be foods such as hard boiled eggs, roasted chicken, vegetable noodles, roasted vegetables, generic seasonings like steak seasonings (it can go in/on more than steak meals), quinoa etc…….
Use Muffin Tins
Muffin tins can be a great way to create portions for your meals. A great on-the-go breakfast is the egg frittata. It can be stored in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for longer. These tins can also help with grain-based carb control. Avoid the temptation to overload your diet with grains, by using the muffin tin for portion control. This will free up space in your meal for more of those amazing veggies (many of which you can carry along raw.)
We use mason jars for lots of things, but have you tried a salad jar? Salad Jars are great for the on-the-go lunch. Put your heavier and liquid items at the bottom and work your way up. BOTTOM: dressing followed by your protein, hearty vegetables, greens and last your favorite topping. When you are ready … Shake and eat! Need a bigger salad, just grab a bigger mason jar.
Your Secret Tool
The freezer is the best tool you can incorporate in your food preparation. The first rule is to have the right type of storage, such as freezer bags or freezer storage containers. The best meals that are great for the freezer would be stews, soups, sauces, stocks, raw or cooked meat, casseroles, hearty vegetables and crock pot meals. Make 2-3 times your normal portion and freeze the excess. Keep in mind however that some foods are not for the freezer like dairy based foods, and your bigger water based fruit or vegetables. These you will want to buy in smaller amounts regularly.
These are just some of the tips available. Your time in the kitchen should be fun and productive. Make it your own time to take a break from your busy schedule by enjoying creating foods that provide nourishment and not a chore.