Meal preparation (a.k.a. meal prep) is a must-have skill for any one looking to reach specific goals. Preparing each meal as you go can be extremely stressful. Not only is it time consuming and inconvenient, it can be overwhelming figuring out what to do when you do know where to start.
You have way better things to do with your life than cook and organize five or six meals or snacks every single day of your life.
That’s where meal prep comes in. Instead of making all of your meals every day you can prepare your meals, or at least certain elements of your meals, ahead of time. Meal prepping can seem intimidating and overwhelming when you first get started. Here are our simple steps for first-time meal preppers.
The first thing you need to do when you’re meal prepping is decide what your menu is going to look like for the week. Flying by the seat of your pants doesn’t work when it comes to meal prepping. You’ll want to be prepared from the get-go.
Plan out all of your meals and snacks for each day through the whole week. Once you have your menu all laid out, it’s time to make a grocery list and go shopping. Be sure to only buy how much you need. If you buy too much, chances are that extra food will go to waste.
When you first start meal planning, don’t feel like you have to prep all of your meals for the entire week. Instead decide which meals you want to tackle. You might try only prepping two or three days of meals at a time. Or you could try prepping one meal, like breakfast or lunch, for the entire week.
Meal prep is supposed to make your life easier, so do whatever you feel will work best for you. I personally like to prep all of my lunches for the week on Sunday. That way when I’m in a hurry in the morning I can just grab and go.
After you’ve planned your meals and decided which ones you want to prep, it’s time to get organized. This step is important for your prep to go smoothly. Gather your ingredients and make sure you have everything. Trust me, you don’t want to make it halfway through a recipe only to realize that you forgot to grab a crucial ingredient!
This is also a great time to decide what order you want to prepare each element of each meal. Start the things that take longer to cook first. That way everything gets done around the same time and you’re not waiting around to finish your meal prep project because you started your brown rice at the end.
Now’s the time to get chopping… literally! Prepare all of your ingredients: slice, chop, dice, etc. If you think that this step is all you need to make your life easier, you could even stop here. Cooking dinner gets a lot faster when all your ingredients are ready to go.
This step is also for ingredients that require no cooking. Measure out your almonds, slice up veggie snackers, scoop out peanut butter… whatever your plan calls for, put everything in baggies or tupperware and set the items aside.
With all of your other steps out of the way, cooking is the easy part. Especially if you pick a passive cooking method like slow cooking chicken in a crock pot, or roasting veggies in your oven. These are methods that allow you to multi-task.
You can arrange your veggies on a sheet pan and stick them in the oven. All you have to do is stir and check every once in awhile to make sure they don’t burn. The more skilled you get the more you can multitask and the faster you’ll get done!
Meal prep takes some time, planning, and effort but the payoff is major. You don’t have to worry about how you’re going to eat your next meal, you can control your portions and ingredients, and you’ll probably end up saving big bucks!
The more you do meal prep the better you’ll get and the easier it will get. Pretty soon you’ll be able to prep an entire week’s worth of food in a couple hours.