From saving money to improving their health, people have a range of reasons to start meal-prepping. Individuals and families are embracing this habit — which involves making batches of healthy meals at home to eat throughout the week — in increasing numbers. If you’re ready to make this lifestyle change, or you already have and want to streamline your process, here are some helpful tips:
1. BUY QUALITY CONTAINERS
When you’re meal prepping, putting food in proper containers ensures it will stay fresher longer and reheat more easily. Pick up a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate any food you choose to store. Glass containers tend to be more popular among preppers than plastic, as they conduct heat better, are more environmentally friendly, are microwave and dishwasher safe and leak proof.
2. CREATE A SCHEDULE
Success starts with a plan, and meal prepping is no exception. Determine which days of the week you can take time to cook, shop and do other related tasks, and allocate time for them in your schedule. It may be difficult at first to incorporate the process into your daily life, but it will get easier and faster the more you do it. Plus, you’ll gain back all the time you spent planning meals on the fly.
3. START SLOW, AND KEEP IT SIMPLE
You may be raring to go and ready to churn out a fridge full of gourmet meals in one day. Instead, ease into it and give yourself a chance to get acclimated. Try a recipe or two the first week, and then increase your output as you get more comfortable. Also, don’t assume that the more complicated a recipe is, the better it must be. Especially as you’re getting started, stick with simpler fare that’s delicious, easy to make and reheats well.
4. STAY ORGANIZED
Meal prep requires order and consistency — namely staying on top of your ingredient inventory and scheduling what you will eat each day. As soon as you run out of something, add it to your shopping list — which you can write out or keep stored on your phone. That way, you won’t forget to pick it up on your weekly grocery store run. On your paper or electronic calendar, keep track of which meals you will eat and when. It’s also a good idea to have a physical or digital place/folder set aside for storing recipes. Finally, arrange your pantry and fridge in a clear, consistent way that allows you to find what you’re looking for quickly.
5. ESTABLISH YOUR STAPLES — AND KEEP THEM WELL STOCKED
Even if you like being adventurous and trying new recipes, you’ll likely find yourself reaching for certain key items in your fridge or pantry every day. These could be anything from chicken breasts and eggs to rice and oatmeal. Whatever you use a lot of, buy it in bulk to ensure you always have it on hand.
6. GET COMFORTABLE WITH MULTITASKING
While your veggies are roasting in the oven, you can be making rice on the stovetop. While your meat is cooking in the crockpot, you can be mixing or chopping on the counter. By doing multiple things at once, you can accomplish more in a shorter amount of time.