With a busy schedule, it’s much too easy to resort to fast food or skipping meals altogether. Prepping meals ahead of time is a great way to skip the drive-thru and control not only what to eat, but how much. By taking a little time to plan, the schedule keeps clear, and the food stays good.
What Is Meal Prepping?
At its most simple, meal prep is cooking ahead to save time – and that does not necessarily mean kicking off the week by laboring over a hot stove for hours! Every schedule and every life are different, but the concept of meal prep can be applied to anybody.
One option is to cook a full meal ahead of time and keep it refrigerated until dinner time. If there’s a single night of the week busier than others, this could make dinner one less thing to worry about.
Another way is to cook in batches, making large portions of a certain food and then freezing them to be brought out later. This can cut down on cooking time if there’s a favorite side that works with a lot of different meals.
Or meal prep could be as basic as prepping the ingredients – chopping the veggies, making the sauce – so that they’re ready to go when needed.
Plan to Prepare
Of course, before the preparation itself, some decisions need to be made.
First, the meals themselves need to be selected. Sit down and think of how many meals need to be prepped. How many dinners, lunches, or even breakfasts need to be prepared? This is the time to choose what to eat with a clear head, balancing nutrition, taste and everything else.
Second, the cooking itself needs to be planned. Pick a day, pick a time and stick to it – it may take a while, but remember, it’s an investment that will pay off later. Try to choose meals that do not require the same kind of prep to maximize effort. For example, rather than picking three things that all take the oven, try to spread it and do as much as possible at a time.
Finally, organize the shopping. Make a list, plan out where everything can be found in the store, and don’t deviate! It’s too easy to grab a bunch of extra goodies when there’s no preparation. When there’s a list and a plan, everything is under control, from the calorie count to the budget.
Storing and Restoring
Once the groceries are bought, and the food is cooked, all that’s left is to store it. Make sure that the containers are airtight, freezer-safe, and leak-proof. These meals could be in storage for a while, and they need to be ready and delicious. Then it’s just grab-and-go, thaw and reheat – and repeat!