How to Meal Prep for the Week
It is the beginning of a new year so there is a good chance you have, at one point or another, seen a tv show segment or social media post about meal prepping. Or maybe you have heard your friends, co-workers, or family members talking about ideas or showing off photos of their weekly meal prep.
If you aren’t taking advantage of this time-saving means to healthy eating, perhaps it is time. So, to help you get started, let’s dig into all things meal prep. Ready?
Meal Prep: What Exactly Is It?
Meal prep is just the act of preparing meals in advance so they are easier to grab and eat when the time comes. Many people use meal prep for the 5 workdays to make life simpler during and after a long day, leaving the weekends with a little wiggle room. Others prep for the entire week. So, yes, meal prep is essentially all about cooking at least 5-7 meals at once – or more if you are throwing together breakfast and lunch, too.
The idea behind meal prepping is easy. We all know that we need to eat healthier and avoid fast food, takeout, and convenience foods every single day. We also know that after a long day at work, coming home and cooking dinner is not something most people look forward to. It is much easier to hit up the drive-thru on the way home or have a pizza delivered than it is to cook. But what if your dinner was already prepared? What if you had a healthy meal all ready to go and all it required was heating?
Ding, ding, ding! There you have it – the reason why meal prep is so important and popular. If the healthy, nourishing meal is convenient, you are more likely to eat it.
Benefits of Meal Prep
Sure, you eat healthier when your food is prepped and ready to go. But that is not the only benefit you will get when you decide to give this a try. You can also reap the following benefits, too:
- Save time by preparing everything in advance – or at least the major parts of the meal. Then you don’t have to worry about dealing with it when you are crunched for time.
- No longer worry about what you are going to cook or eat – or stress out about not sticking to your healthy eating plan. It is just one less stress you have to worry about.
- Save yourself some money by eating the stuff you buy at the grocery store – and not wasting it. Plus, you will be less likely to order takeout – and that can lead to huge savings.
Types of Meal Prep
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to make full meals to reheat when you are doing your meal prep. There are other ways to meal prep, too. Remember, the key is to make it easy, accessible, and convenient. Below are a few types of meal prep that may spark your interest:
Cooked, Just Reheat. These are your typical meal preps – the ones you see stacked in the fridge all ready to grab for work lunches or for dinners. They consist of a fully cooked meal that simply requires reheating.
Assemble Now, Cook Later. This one is especially good for family dinners, such as stews, soups, and one-pot meals. You assemble everything you need to for the meal, put it together in a baggie, then place it in the freezer.
Prepped Ingredients. Chop and portion your ingredients. This comes in handy with meats, produce, etc. You are more likely to eat healthy when you can just grab it. If the veggies are already chopped, then you don’t have to worry. Just grab them from the fridge and get to cookin’.
Mix and Match. Prep all your basic ingredients and store them. Again, if it’s easy, you can grab and eat something healthy. Go grocery shopping and have everything prepped, portioned, and ready to go. This way you can create different meals throughout the week, but you don’t have to do the prep work.
Batch Cooking. Finally, the last type of meal prep is batch prep. Pick a few ingredients that you commonly use in different recipes and then prep them in advance. For instance, chicken. Cook up a big batch of chicken and store it for use later. Maybe you shred it and make tacos, chop it and put it on a salad, or heat up a chicken breast alongside some veggies.
Tips for New Food Preppers
Starting a new routine of preparing your food in advance doesn’t have to be tough, but it can be overwhelming. If your interest has been sparked and you want to start fitting in, then you are going to need these tips for new food preppers.
Make a Plan. You have to first decide what you want to cook and how you want to meal prep. Then head to the grocery store and gather all the ingredients.
Buy Reusable Containers. Get yourself containers that will work for whatever you decide to do. If it is reheatable cooked meals, buy 5-7 microwavable containers that allow you to easily store them. If it is prepping veggies and staples, get the right containers for that. Prepped ingredients sometimes work well in gallon-size freezer bags for storing in the freezer. Just be sure to write with a Sharpie what the prepped meals are.
Clean Out Your Refrigerator – Or Get a New One. You are going to be filling your refrigerator so it helps if you have one that is organized and has a lot of space to keep your foods right where you can see them for easy access. Rearrange things if you have to.
Get to Work. Once you have everything ready to go, get to work cooking, prepping, and organizing. Whatever it is that you decide to do, pick a day and do it. Then it’s done for the week and you don’t have to think about what you are going to eat because you already know!
Well, there you have it. Everything you need to know for meal-prepping your way through 2022.