Top Tips for Planning and Preparing
A home-cooked meal is often the first thing to go when you’re crunched for time, but a growing trend called meal prep is allowing people to better prepare for the week and enjoy healthier homemade options in a flash. Meal prepping has taken off because it enables people to set aside one day to prepare meals for the whole week (or month!), eliminating the need to start from scratch during the week and the temptation to hit the drive-through. Here’s how to have meal-prep success.
Use spare time to get ahead. Have some extra time on your hands? Go beyond preparing and start cooking portions of the weekly meals. If you plan on using tomato sauce that week, go ahead and start a batch while you’re cutting your veggies for another recipe. If you’re making lunches for the work week, go ahead and grill or bake your chicken and veggies for dinners.
Choose recipes for the week.
Before you go to the grocery store, have your recipes and a shopping list planned out for the week. One way to simplify this task is to keep a calendar to organize the meals you want each day. Make planning easier by having a theme each night of the week, such as pasta or fish.
Pick a prep day.
This is the day you’ll gather your haul at the grocery store and bring it back home. Prepare the food as soon as you get back from the store. Wash, dry, chop, and peel to prepare for each meal, then store each component for cooking later. Many people choose to do this on Monday (the day’s so popular it’s garnered its own social media hashtag, #MealPrepMondays), but Sunday is also a popular day.
It’s helpful to keep various storage containers handy if you’re preparing meals for the week. Separate or combine each component as the recipe requires, then place them in the refrigerator or freezer. You can separate meals into different portions like single-serve lunch portions, or family-size dinner portions. Remember: the freezer is your friend for the future, as you can make several batches of sauces, soups, or stews to enjoy during the week or within the next few months. When you’re done, you’ll have healthy food at the ready and can focus your time and energy elsewhere.