words Al Woods
Over the past few years, meal prepping has become more than a trend. Considering the time it takes to prepare for a single meal, the cost of eating in restaurants, and your health requirements, having meal prepping skills is increasingly becoming a necessity despite one’s age, gender or profession.
Cooking your own meals can help you save time and money, not forgetting that you’ll be sure to get the most out of your diet. The best thing about meal prepping is that you don’t require sophisticated tools or complicated meal ideas to get started. All you need is enough time and some elbow grease.
While there are various meal prepping ideas out there, there is no right way to meal prepping because what works for someone else may not work for you and in addition to this, it’s all about what works for you best. For those who want to stick to a certain diet but are forced to order dinner or lunch from restaurants and fast food joints, there are meal prepping and storage hacks that can provide a solution. It can also help you to stick to a diet and achieve your fitness goals.
As if enough hasn’t been said already, below are the proper ways to cook and prepare your food for your busy week.
1. Choose Meals That Can Be Stored Longer
The first thing you’ll need to do is evaluate your schedule. There are various ways to prepare your meals but then again, it will depend on how much time you have on your hands, types of meals prepared, and your cooking style. One thing to note though, you need to be mindful of the storage life. You really don’t want your meals to develop mold in the name of saving time and money. Molds will usually grow on dairy products, baked foods, and leftover meals. When consumed, molds can release toxic chemicals some of which can be lethal. According to a recent article published on Microbe Formulas about mold toxicity, various molds can trigger widespread symptoms and diseases in your body. They could be anywhere in your home, especially when your food is not stored right. To steer clear of food poisoning and mold toxicity, prepare foods that can stay fresh in your fridge for a few days and ensure they do not stay there for too long.
2. Meal Planning
It’s very important to plan your meals. The first thing you want to do when preparing your meals is planning a menu. This will have to include creating a shopping list because come to think about it, you’ll need your groceries. So stock your pantry with all the ingredients you’ll need for the week. Ensure to get a good supply of fresh local farm produce and reliable products that will not go bad for the next few days. Ingredients such as canned beans, canned broths, freezer-friendly foods, eggs, pre-cooked chicken and beef, and whole grains are among the things to include in your shopping list. You also need to have an assortment of different sizes of storage containers, including glass, plastic, zip-top bags or freezer bags. Some of these containers will also come in handy when packing your meals to go.
3. Meal Prepping
With your ingredients ready and your recipes picked from your meal planning, pick a meal that you normally have challenges preparing. For some, it’s breakfast while for others it’s lunch. Whether it’s a single meal in a day, you’ll definitely see the benefits of meal prepping. To ensure that you’re not overwhelmed especially when starting out, keep things simple. Find simple recipes that require less time and ingredients when preparing, like a tasty tater tot breakfast casserole. If it’s your first time meal prepping, it’s not the best time to try on some crazy and complicated recipes. For most people, Sunday is the best time to prepare and cook your meals for the week, so have fun while at it. Crank up the volume and enjoy some music. Hey, you can also involve your kids or spouse in the activity. Just ensure not to disturb your neighbors while at it!
Strategies for meal prepping
- Make-ahead meals – these can include sauces, soups, casseroles, etc. They are easy to make and in addition to this, sauces and soups go well with almost anything.
- Ingredients prepping – sometimes making your ingredients could cost you a lot of time. Prepping your ingredients beforehand can make it easier to cook your meals if this is what you prefer. This means prepping, chopping, and keeping your ingredients refrigerated at the beginning of the week.
- Batch cooking – this involves cooking different recipes in portioned ratios but in large quantities. You can then freeze them for the days to come. While there’s a plethora of batch-cooking recipes on the internet, some foods you can batch-cook include a whole chicken, legumes, or whole grains, and many others.
- Portioning – whether you’ve cooked an entire meal or different components, having portions means that you can grab your meals anytime and go.
- Precooked meals – this is a great strategy for breakfasts and lunches. These are meals that will not require a lot of time cooking or prepping. They include fries, salads, sheet pan meals, sandwiches, stews, and soups. Some may need re-heating while others can be taken cold.
4. Cooking Your Meals
While it can seem like a lot, especially if you are a beginner at meal prepping, meal prepping can help save you a lot of time during the week. Now, when cooking your meals, you want to ensure that they retain their nutritional value. One way to ensure that you get the most out of your prepped meals is to eat the most heat-sensitive foods raw. Alternatively, you may want to try out different cooking methods that include steaming, baking, roasting, sautéing, or microwaving. For instance, a crockpot is a great cooking tool when preparing different types of meals. But with a bit of practice and motivation from easy to make recipes, it will only take you a few weeks to get used to it. Below is a list of some of the best foods to meal prep for the whole week:
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Roasted veggies
- Grilled chicken breasts
- Whole wheat pasta
- Sliced veggies
- Iced tea for breakfast
- Sweet potatoes, baked
- Grilled shrimps and salmon
- Mashed potatoes
So, for a less hectic meal making, saving time in the kitchen, and less worry about the quality of food in some restaurants, try meal prepping today. For people who’ve made healthy food choices and are looking to try something different, meal prepping is the way to go. It’s a great idea if you’re checking your diet and are resolute about wanting to improve your overall health. Take advantage of the above easy meal prepping tips and see a dramatic change in your health.