Ah, Meal prep. We either love it, or we hate it. Proper meal preparation is key to overall success or failure in a healthy eating program.
Without it, we are all doomed to fail at least once. With it, we are more likely not only to see success but also enjoy the process.
First, make sure you have all the right tools for success. You will need to make sure you have plenty of:
- storage containers,
- Ziploc bags,
- and perhaps some mason jars with lids.
Make a plan for the week
I can’t stress this enough. It’s going to save you stress, keep to your budget and save you a lot of time overall. So, take the time to sit down and plan the meals you will be preparing.
1. I start with writing down dinners, then breakfast, snacks and build my lunch around these.
2. After getting my meals written down, I decide which meals will go on which days
It’s easiest to look at the menu plan and make sure that you are eating the foods that go bad quicker at the beginning of the week so that you are getting the most nutrient values and making sure that meals do not expire in the refrigerator.
For instance, when buying berries, I will make sure that they are eaten Monday or Tuesday since these generally go bad in 3-4 days.
3. And finally, I make a shopping list with my local circular flyers, compare prices at my local stores and budget accordingly to which store will overall be the cheapest.
I will go to the store and gather all the items that are needed for the week.
Proper meal preparation
Then comes the time to prep the food for the upcoming week. There are several different methods for how you can do this. My suggestion is to try each one and find what works best for you.
The most common way to prep is to prepare the food by the food group, and then portion these out into meals. If chicken is on the list, cook all the chicken for the week and all the sides separately as the chicken is cooking. When finishing the cooking prepare the other meals, in the same manner, breakfast then lunch then snacks.
Divide each for the week. And set into the clean containers, label with date prepared, who the meal is for, and what meal is then stored in the refrigerator.
This is a great way to make sure that allergens are not included in one person’s container, or if one member doesn’t eat carrots, you can leave carrots out of their snack containers.
My all-time favorite meal prep method though is the freezer method. Usually, meal prep can take a full day to get prepared and ready, but I can’t speak highly enough of how much time this saves me weekly.
I prefer to sit down on a Saturday evening and plan 30 dinners out in advance on a calendar, then 30 easy to cook breakfasts, lunches and snack ideas. I will peruse the circulars and create my list based on which store has the best deals.
After getting this done, I will come home and use the same method that is used in the weekly process, preparing main courses, snacks, however, I do not cook breakfasts or lunches for the 30-day freezer method.
For this, I will take my dry ingredients and package them into 30 different Ziplocs or prep bags and then freeze the other ingredients.
For dinners, label each Ziploc what the meal is while the meal is cooking, and the date that it of preparation along with the day that it will be eaten after the food is cooked, bag and put into the freezer.
This method saves not only time during the week because all you need to do is grab the meal and reheat. But saves money because you can purchase in bulk, in season and it eliminates impulse purchases at the grocery store.