Whether you’re looking to lose weight or simply improve your eating habits, there’s a lot to be said for meal prep and planning. Not only does it save time and money, but it also keeps you on track for your weight loss, and health and fitness clothes. Meal prep takes the guesswork out of what to eat and when to it. If you’re new to the world of meal prep, keep reading for some basic tips to help you get started.
Buy Color Coded Materials
Meal prep and the proper containers go hand-in-hand. Investing in quality, color coded containers with tightly sealed lids is an essential part of proper meal prep. Depending on the the type of the meals you’re preparing, purchase containers in a few different sizes. To make your meals easy to find and “grab and go”, color code them. Make your breakfast containers red, lunch green, and dinner blue (or whatever pattern works best for you). This way, when you open your refrigerator, you can easily find what you’re looking for.
Perform Weekend Prep
It’s essential to designate a meal prep block of time. For most people, this comes on the weekends. Whether it’s Saturday or Sunday, earmark a specific time when you’ll perform your meal prep duties. But don’t view meal prep as an inconvenience or unpleasant chore. There are countless ways to make meal prep fun. Play some of your favorite music. Lay out all your materials and use your meal prep time as quality time with yourself. Or, if you live with someone or have family members who want to get involved, let them help out. But be sure to set a timer or designate an end time for your meal prep. If not, you might spend an entire day in the kitchen!
Find Recipes with Similar Ingredients
If you’re worried that meal prep is too expensive, don’t be. A great way to save time and money when performing meal prep is to use recipes that incorporate similar ingredients. If you’re having grilled steak with dinner, buy some extra and make grilled steak salads for lunch. Are you cooking spinach as a side for your fish or chicken? Leave some raw and mix that with romaine lettuce for a tasty spring mix. And get creative with your recipes. Meal prep doesn’t need to be boring or tasteless. There are countless delicious and flavorful recipes that you can use as part of your meal prep plan. Find a few that have overlapping ingredients and cook those for the upcoming week.
Buy in Bulk
This is another great way to save money when it comes to meal prep and make your life a lot easier. Buying items in bulk means a lower price tag and fewer trips to the grocery store. If there are staple items you use each week like eggs, chicken or produce, when you can, purchase them in bulk. Some items can be frozen or preserved to guarantee their freshness. Wholesale clubs are the perfect place to purchase food items in bulk.
Create a User-Friendly Grocery List
Without a detailed shopping list, you could waste hours wandering around the grocery store or leave without getting all the items you need. Before heading to the store, make a detailed list of all the items you need. When possible, organize your list based on the aisles in your local store. This will help you stay organized and make sure you don’t forget anything. Another pro tip is not waiting until you’re going shopping to start your list. Whether you keep a notepad on your kitchen counter or on your phone, add items you need as you come across them in recipes. If you run out of staple items you need, add them to your list immediately before you forget. Once you’re ready to hit the store, sit down with all your notes and recipes and construct your final list.
Use a Variety of Spices
Meal prep doesn’t need to be boring and the best way to add flavor to your food is by getting creative with spices. Think outside the box and try new and different spices. Many companies make interesting blends that taste like some of your favorite foods. These include pizza flavored seasoning, ranch, and even everything bagel! If your grocery store doesn’t carry these unique spices, do a little research online. Your tastebuds will thank you.
Speak to a Nutritionist
If your roadblock to meal prep is that you’re unsure of the types of meals to prepare, a nutritionist can help. Nutritionists are trained in creating a healthy meal plan for you. Based on your current weight, sex, and goals, they can detail the types of foods you should eat and those you should avoid. If you have certain medical issues or health conditions you’re trying to treat (diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.) a nutritionist can help detail a meal plan that addresses these concerns. Once you’re armed with information about the things you should be eating, creating a meal prep plan will be a breeze.
Worried about waste? Don’t be! Whether you choose to freeze ingredients like fruits and meats or freeze entire meals, this is a great way to make sure you get your money’s worth and cut down on waste. If you choose to buy meat in bulk, freeze some of it. This is an especially useful tip if there’s a sale. Stock up on ingredients that are freezer friendly. Stews, soups, chili, and different types of sauces are easy to freeze and taste just as good the second time you use them. Just be sure to date any items you freeze to ensure freshness.
Purchase Pre-Cut Items
Another amazing time saving tool is purchasing pre-cut fruits and vegetables. Although these items are often priced higher than the uncut variety, if time is your concern, this slight indulgence might be worth the money for you. Many grocery stores sell vegetables pre-cut form onions and peppers to zucchini, broccoli, and carrots. If you love the larger melons like honeydew and cantaloupe but can’t stand the prep of cutting them and scooping out the seeds, purchase the chunks that are already cut and packaged for you.
Relish in the Benefits
The initial act of performing meal prep might take some time and effort, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll reap all the amazing benefits. Not only will you save time during the week by having all of your meals prepared and ready to go, but you may lose weight, even if it’s not your goal. Having healthy meals prepared will stop you from hitting fast food restaurants or eating other prepackaged food that is convenient but may not be the healthiest options. By adopting meal prep into your life, you’re not only improving your overall health and wellbeing, but also cutting down on the stress of deciding what to eat and saving yourself hours of time to enjoy other things in life.
Article Submitted By Community Writer