5 Essential Tips for Meal Prepping
The average American adult spends 37 minutes a day meal-prepping, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. That equates to roughly 4.5 hours a week and more than nine days a year.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. These tips for meal prepping will help you get it done all at once.
1. Plan wisely
This is perhaps the most important tip of them all.
Start by planning a menu for the upcoming 5-7 days. Healthy Gourmet is a great tool for that. Then, set aside a designated day and time to prepare it all.
Pick at least two lunch and two dinner options to make so you don’t get bored. If you eat the same thing for breakfast every day, you probably only need to plan one recipe for that. But you can still create different variations of it by adding or removing ingredients as you need.
Once you have planned the menu, build your grocery list around it and stick to it. Avoid overstocking by choosing a handful of ingredients to focus on each week.
2. Simplify your snacks
Snacks should take less time to prepare than your actual meals. Look for pre-cut veggies — like carrots and celery — to pair with your favorite hummus. Fruit, nuts and hardboiled eggs are also quick and easy to make.
If you plan on drinking coffee, tea or kombucha, be sure to work that into your plan as well and prepare it ahead of time. Pre-portioning your batches can go a long way, especially if you are crunched for time in the mornings.
3. Cook in batches
Your oven has multiple racks for a reason. Cooking your food all at once will help you drastically reduce overall prep time. Set the oven to one temperature, then remove food accordingly. Some items might need to stay in there longer than others.
4. Invest in quality containers
If you want to make a habit out of meal prepping, your containers have to be reliable. If you use plastic, avoid BPA that melts in the microwave or dishwasher. Glass containers, like Pyrex and Mason jars, are sturdier than plastic — and easier to clean, too. You won’t have to worry about scrubbing out stains after more than one use. And insulated bags are another great way to keep your food fresh throughout the day.
5. Take advantage of your slow cooker
If you are feeling a bit run down when it comes time to meal prep, a slow cooker might be your saving grace. Simply toss some ingredients in and forget about them until it is time to portion. Looking for inspiration? Check out these recipes.
You don’t have to be a total health nut to get into meal prepping. With so many different tips for meal prepping available, you can make your meals as healthy (or as indulgent) as you please. And if you are having trouble getting started, theming your days might make it easier to help generate ideas.