Meal Prep for Absolute Beginners
I know, I know… yet another meal prep post. It’s trendy to meal prep!
But so many people don’t know how to do it well. To be honest, there is trial and error to the process. When I stated I made a fair share of mistakes in my attempts to be organized (and save money). The first few times I tried, I ended up frustrated, with a whole lot of food waste. Not fun, bad for the environment, and it turned me off of the process. Here’s what I’ve learned by doing it for the past year or so:
- Plan a week at a time. No need to start going any further than that. Food spoils, and you’ll get bored
- Look at your calendar first. Having a sense of what you week looks like will let you know what nights you can cook, what nights you’ll be out, and what nights will be easier to have leftovers on hand. Plan around those evenings will ensure you’re not buying too much food
- Plans meals that use one ingredient more than once. If you know that a head of broccoli will last you for two meals, plan two meals that incorporate the broccoli. For instance, one night you could serve it steamed or seared as a side, and a couple of nights later, in a soup
- Add some variety. Seriously. If you’re facing the prospect of the exact same lunch for five straight days, I can assure you will get bored, and likely fall off the wagon. The same ingredients can be used a variety of ways
- Choose a couple of hours on the weekend and prep, baby, prep! Cook a batch of your protein of choice. Chop vegetables such as carrots or broccoli to last the week. Slice enough peppers for a couple of days (they won’t last five days cut up in the fridge). Prepare overnight oats, or prepare and freeze your fruit and veggies for morning smoothies. Measure out portions of dressings or dips. Anything you can do to make your lunches grab and go, the better.
- Follow a formula. There’s a reason why meatless Monday or taco Tuesday exist. Because it’s easy to follow a formula to meal prep. If your family always orders a pizza on Friday nights, grab the ingredients and make one together. It’s likely going to be healthier, too.
- Use it up! Have leftover vegetables at the end of the week? Don’t throw them out! Use them in a frittata, egg cups for next week’s breakfasts, or a soup. Make a pasta dish with a chunky vegetable sauce. Either way, have a plan to use anything you might have left.
A bonus tip? Make double batches of anything you can freeze, and freeze it! For those nights that are busy, or those weeks when you didn’t make a plan, at least a fresh healthy meal will just be a defrost away!